Inzamam left to point the finger as umpires produce howlers

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The Independent Online

Inzamam-ul-Haq is not a man given to shows of emotion, so the angry bark that clearly issued from Pakistan's taciturn captain an hour and a half into play here yesterday was unmistakable evidence that he was seriously displeased. He had good reason, too, according to television replays. In the space of 10 minutes, England's Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook had been on the beneficial end of a couple of umpiring howlers.

In the case of Cook, the consequences were not as severe as Inzy might have feared after the young Essex batsman's hundreds at Lord's and Old Trafford. With eight runs to his name at the moment West Indian official Billy Doctrove ruled he had not made contact with the ball as the wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal and bowler Mohammad Sami appealed for caught behind, Cook added only 15 more before offering Umar Gul a tame return catch.

For Pietersen, obviously, it was quite a different story. Seeing the back of Pietersen early is high on the wish-list of any opposing captain and had Darrell Hair, the experienced Australian umpire, seen correctly when England's fortunate centurion tickled an inside edge off Shahid Nazir through to keeper Akmal via his thigh pad, the day might have followed a different route.

How Inzamam must have wished the right to appeal against umpires' decisions, proposed but rejected by the International Cricket Council last month, had been his. It was something Duncan Fletcher, too, might have mused on later.

The irony is that Fletcher, the England coach, is the man who originated the idea, specifically that in matches with a TV umpire each side should be allowed to appeal against contested decisions, but with the proviso that once three appeals had been lost, the right would be withdrawn.

It is an idea over which ICC members are split. The proposal that it should be put on trial at October's ICC Champions Trophy was passed by a 6-5 margin by that organisation's cricket committee last month but turned down by the ICC executive board on the basis it compromised the spirit and integrity of cricket.

However, that is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Having supported their coach's idea, the England and Wales Cricket Board has been given the go-ahead to test the three appeals plan in televised games in domestic 50-overs cricket next summer, which will be a bonus to whoever takes the place of Cheltenham & Gloucester as sponsors of that form of cricket, guaranteeing extra exposure.

Should the experiment - along with another planned in South Africa - be judged a success, it will be the prelude to another attempt to push for acceptance at international level. Should that happen, a fierce backlash from umpires should be expected.

The routine recourse by television to technological "aids" such as Hawkeye and the Snickometer has led to fears among officials that their role could be reduced to little more than cap and sweater attendants and any move that allows players openly to question their authority on the field is bound to be resisted.

The South African umpire Rudi Koertzen offered an insight into the likely depth of feeling during a similar experiment during the Super Series Test between Australia and a World XI in Sydney last year.

There, umpires were encouraged to refer any decision, contested or not, to the TV umpire yet on several occasions Koertzen pointedly declined the option, remaining unrepentant even when replays showed him to be incorrect.

"We all make mistakes and the players probably make more than the umpires do," he said. "They should leave it up to us to make the mistakes. We've got to live with that."

Shot of the day

* PAUL COLLINGWOOD Kevin Pietersen played his usual array of strokes, but it was the manner in which Durham batsman Collingwood got off the mark that caught the eye. Most batsmen try to nudge a single to get going but Collingwood hooked Umar Gul over the deep square leg boundary for six.

Ball of the day

* MOHAMMAD SAMI Pakistan should have made more of the overcast conditions than they did but the best ball, a nip-backer that shaved the inside edge of Alastair Cook's bat and was caught by wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, did not count. Sami had every right to look at the umpire in dismay when he said "not out" - as did the Pakistan fielders, who were livid.

Moment of the day

* KEVIN PIETERSEN The ultimate showman knows how to bring attention to himself and was at his best as he approached his hundred. On two occasions, after striking a four that took him to 91, and after successive boundaries that put him on 99, the physio was called to treat cramps in his arm. But he got there with a single to fine leg before leaping down the pitch in delight.

Weather and television times

* WEATHER Dry with sunny spells. Max temp: 23C.

* TELEVISION Sky Sports 1, 10.30.

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