For all its obvious merit, Test cricket and those supposed to govern it are often made to look dafter than a village batsman facing Shane Warne. It happened again yesterday when it emerged that the officially ratified policy to use modern technology in umpiring decisions has been ditched before it has begun.
The so-called review system, which allows players to challenge umpires, will not be used in the series between South Africa and England next month, or in the Tests between India and Sri Lanka, which started yesterday.
Its first outing as normal procedure in the playing regulations of the International Cricket Council was supposed to be in the first Test in Ahmedabad yesterday. But on the eve of the match the Board of Control for Cricket in India decided to abandon the procedure, under which either side can question two verdicts in each innings.
India's players were said to be unhappy after being on the wrong end of reviews several times during a brief trial period which ended earlier this year. Plans for the procedure's use in the four matches involving South Africa and England have been abandoned because of the cost.
"I can confirm that the Indian board decided it should not be used for reasons not yet stipulated and that there are doubts about its use in the series between South Africa and England," an ICC spokesman said. "It will be used in the forthcoming series in Australia when they play West Indies and we hope everybody will then see how effective it is."
But the ICC looked once more like a governing body which could not govern. The trials had only limited success. The main criticisms were that the system interrupted the flow of the game, and that marginal decisions remained marginal. It was employed to much irritation and hilarity in England's tedious series in the West Indies, when the last thing needed was extra delays.