Confusion and distrust continued to plague the contentious referrals procedure in Test matches yesterday amid suspicion that it had claimed its first official victim. Mark Benson, the highly-rated English umpire, was on his way home after abandoning his role in the second Test between Australia and West Indies in Adelaide.
Although his employers, the International Cricket Council, said Benson stood down in mid-match because of ill-health there were several reports about his unhappiness with the Umpiring Decision Review System where verdicts can be overturned on appeal to the third umpire by either the batting or the bowling side. His future as a member of the elite panel of international umpires is now in doubt.
The procedure has been enthusiastically backed by the ICC but has been less popular among players and officials. It was intended to be used in all Test series from October following a trial period.
But India declined to use it in their home series against Sri Lanka. After the rubber ended yesterday in a 2-0 defeat for Sri Lanka, their captain, Kumar Sangakkara, insisted that the absence of reviews had cost his side.
"This series is the best advertisement for having the review system," Sangakkara said after his side's opening batsman, Tillakaratne Dilshan, was twice wrongly given out in the third Test in Nagpur. But MS Dhoni, India's captain, took an opposite view, although he conceded he had not played in a series that used reviews. "It is not 100 per cent foolproof," he said.
Benson was indignant on the first day in Adelaide after one of his decisions was overturned. He twice gave the West Indies batsman, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, not out to catches behind. On both occasions, Australia asked for a review. On the first, the third umpire, Asad Rauf, upheld Benson's verdict to the ire of Australia. On the second, although replays and hotspot were far from conclusive that Chanderpaul had hit the ball, Rauf told Benson that the batsman was out.
Rauf replaced Benson, who has previously suffered from high blood pressure, in the middle on the second day of the match.