Reviews win ICC approval despite Test controversies

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The Independent Online

The International Cricket Council yesterday announced its satisfaction with the new umpire Decision Review System despite the controversy that has dogged it since its inception.

The system, which allows players to challenge the decisions of umpires by calling for a review by the third umpire, was used in the recent series between South Africa and England, and the England and Wales Cricket Board expressed reservations.

There was also controversy in Australia when umpire Mark Benson pulled out of a Test against Pakistan in Adelaide after the first day. Benson cited illness but some media speculated that he was unhappy after some of his decisions were challenged.

An ICC statement read: "In 13 Test matches the percentage of correct decisions has risen from 91.3 per cent to 97.44 per cent. The board supported a desire for work to continue to build on the encouraging results from the first 13 matches and will discuss further technological improvements with broadcasters in March to improve and refine the DRS further."

One limitation of the system was its reliance on host broadcasters, not all of whom are able to afford technological aids such as "hot spot" or the "snickometer".

A process for Ireland to apply for full membership of the ICC – a move that could lead to Test status – was also approved yesterday. Ireland had previously announced their intention to apply and the latest decision will give them the necessary encouragement to press ahead.

The immediate future of the often-maligned Champions Trophy looks secure after the board sought bids to host the 2013 event. The tournament, often dubbed a "mini World Cup" but widely seen as an unnecessary addition to the schedule, was given a shot in the arm by a successful staging in South Africa last year.

The ICC also admitted that thought had been given to a possible relocation back to Lord's but "felt it important to continue its ongoing due diligence before reaching any decisions". The ICC left Lord's for Dubai in 2005.

The ICC is to consider day/night Test matches as part of some "urgent product research" into the game at the top level. It is thought the world governing body wants to increase the appeal of the longer format, which has suffered in comparison to the limited-overs games in recent years.

Audiences for Test cricket remain healthy in England but elsewhere, and particularly India, crowds have declined considerably as people prioritise the more exciting shorter games.

The ICC announced it will look into day/night Tests as part of a review to provide "greater context to Test, ODI and Twenty20 international cricket outside the major ICC events".