On the Front Foot: Little chance of India having another look at referral system

Nothing demonstrates the impotence of the International Cricket Council more than the umpire decision review system (DRS). It has enhanced the accuracy of verdicts and the sense of theatre (while showing the general excellence of elite officials).

Last week the ICC's cricket committee felt the need to recommend unanimously that DRS be used in all Tests and one-day internationals. But as the committee knew well, it was already official policy. The trouble is, as they also knew, some countries refuse to use the system.

Well, all right, India have refused. They felt aggrieved at some decisions going against them (albeit correctly) in the trial period two years ago and have steadfastly declined to use DRS since. It was thought that their stance might change after Sachin Tendulkar, one of the chief opponents, benefited in the World Cup semi-final against Pakistan when an lbw verdict against him was overturned on appeal. He was 23 not out at the time and went on to make 85. But India will not budge.

Thus, although DRS will be used in England's first series of the summer, against Sri Lanka, no agreement has been reached for the second with India and it is unlikely that one will be. India have already announced their intention to vote against the cricket committee's decision (although their former coach Gary Kirsten was part of the unanimous voting) so a state of limbo and daftness prevails. The ICC can do nothing, and the idea of England refusing to play unless India come into line is ridiculous.

Magazine plays its shots again

The Cricketer is back. Thank the lord for that, sir. The world's oldest cricket magazine seemed to have vanished forever when it was forced to merge five years ago and became The Wisden Cricketer.

Changes of ownership have ensued and the Wisden tag never quite lent it the cachet it supposed. Taken over recently by enthusiast Lord Marland, it has decided to revert to the original title bestowed by its founder, Pelham Warner, in 1921, and also has a cracking website. Jolly good show.

WH Smith does have shelf life

To the British Sports Book Awards, at which the marvellous Slipless in Settle, a charming and funny tour around northern club cricket by Harry Pearson, took the cricket prize.

As chairman of the cricket judging panel perhaps it is treachery for me to say this, but the winner of a new category, best sports book retailer, seemed a decidedly odd choice. It is usually impossible to buy cricket books in WH Smith.

Opening night for a watchman

Unheralded the Sri Lankan tour may be – ticket sales for the First Test are pitiful – but it is attended by two significant cultural items.

The National Theatre is staging Nightwatchman by Prasanna Puwanarajah at the Cottesloe in July and August. It is about Abirami, who is to make her debut for England against Sri Lanka, and challenges preconceptions about politics, sport and national pride.

Similar themes are explored in a novel, Chinaman, by Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka, in which a sportswriter quests to find a disappeared mystery spinner. England have been on this fruitless search for decades.


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