Television trial brings crowd closer to the action

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Slow out of the blocks they may have been in terms of giving the Decision Review System a chance to prove its worth – or otherwise – over here, but at least England can claim a first in helping to turn the controversial procedure into an audience participation sport.

True, it was the South African official Marais Erasmus who effectively decided the fate of several batsmen at Trent Bridge yesterday. Yet by the time the third umpire passed on his view to on-field colleagues Tony Hill and Asoka de Silva, 11,000 or so paying customers had already given their verdict via cheers or groans.

The first Test against Pakistan is England's 900th in all, but unique in that the DRS has never before been used in this country – and should never be used again, judging by the look on Jonathan Trott's face as he dragged himself back to the pavilion. But more of that later.

Whereas the DRS – which allows teams to challenge an umpire's decision until they have been proved wrong on two occasions per innings – has been trialled around the world for a couple of years, the men in the middle have remained all powerful in England. Part of the reason for that has been a lack of conviction in the system itself (England having originally voted against it at an International Cricket Council meeting), but the biggest stumbling block earlier this summer was cash-based.

Not unreasonably, perhaps, host broadcaster Sky wanted a financial contribution from the ICC to help fund all the technology and, when none was forthcoming, the two-Test series against Bangladesh went ahead in the old fashioned way. Sponsorship of the various gizmos– such as hotspot, Hawk-Eye, super slo-mo and the like – was suggested as a way forward. In the end, though, the solution proved to be altogether simpler with Sky, the England and Wales Cricket Board and the ICC all making a contribution. And so it came to pass yesterday that Trott entered the book of curious little facts by becoming the first batsman in England to be reprieved by the DRS – a state of affairs that may have been forgotten a little later when the same process confirmed his dismissal.

What was really interesting, though, was the crowd's involvement. Elsewhere in the world, paying customers have twiddled their thumbs while the third umpire viewed replays and discussed matters with his on-field colleagues following a challenge. At Trent Bridge, the pictures being seen by Mr Erasmus were shown, simultaneously, on the giant TV screen, allowing spectators to reach their own verdict.

Consequently, anyone looking at the screen could see exactly why Trott had challenged Asoka de Silva's decision to give him leg before wicket to Danish Kaneria. In fact, the only unanswered question was how the Sri Lankan umpire had failed to detect an inside edge in "real" time.

Pakistan were slow, initially, to jump on the referral bandwagon with Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer declining to query not out verdicts against Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook. And while they were right to keep their powder dry then, Aamer should have followed up his leg before appeal against Trott with a challenge because replays showed the bowler to have been sinned against.

Perhaps as a result of information received during lunch, the tourists were less shy after the break, and Asif promptly frittered away the team's two unsuccessful challenges against Kevin Pietersen with follow-up appeals that, as the crowd told him, were optimistic in the extreme.

No one was unhappier than Trott, however, following the rubber-stamping of an lbw verdict. But, as the crowd could tell England's No 3, justice had been done. And done again when Eoin Morgan was rightly reprieved after being adjudged lbw on 78.

Referrals and rueful glances how the first day unfolded

11.15 The England captain, Andrew Strauss, is dropped after edging a lovely away-swinger from Mohammad Aamer. The attempted catch by Kamran Akmal was not so lovely as he virtually threw to the ground a straightforward opportunity.

11.38 Alastair Cook edges Aamer to first slip for just eight runs.

12.31 Jonathan Trott is given out lbw, but becomes the first beneficiary of the Decision Review System when replays show he hit the ball.

12.45 Aamer is brought back into the attack and with his fourth ball accounts for Strauss, finding a bit of extra movement and bounce.

12.58 Trott survives lbw appeal – had Pakistan asked for a review it would have been given out. Nothing's perfect.

1.50 Kevin Pietersen survives Pakistan referral for lbw. Replays show the ball would have clipped the stumps outside the ICC's "zone of certainty" – the batsman is given the benefit of the doubt.

1.55 Pietersen reprieved again as Pakistan wrongly believe they have a case for a catch behind.

2.05 Trott given out lbw, and again asks for referral but this time the technology backs the umpire.

2.08 Pietersen goes, an inside edge off Mohammad Asif removing the bails

2.25 Eoin Morgan survives appeal for catch behind when umpires themselves refer it. He edged it all right but the ball bounced before it reached Kamran, much to the crowd's derision.

3.04 Paul Collingwood hits his first boundary from his 30th ball.

3.20 Morgan, with a flourish, hits his sixth four in 12 balls with a brutal reverse sweep.

4.15 Morgan raises the bat after reaching his first fifty for England with his 10th four.

5.03 Collingwood on 48 is given huge let-off as Kamran fluffs an easy stumping – to Danish Kaneria's annoyance.

5.05 Collingwood pushes the ball behind square to reach his half-century.

5.47 Morgan brings up his hundred in emphatic style, driving Shoaib Malik for a straight six into the Radcliffe Road End.

Stephen Brenkley