Umpire's decision will not be final for Test series

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The Independent Online

If the Test series between South Africa and England is too close to call, one aspect of it is a stone cold certainty. At some point, probably on the first morning, the Decision Review System will create confusion, controversy and delay. The DRS, whereby players have the right to question umpiring verdicts, which are then looked at anew with the help of television gizmos, is now International Cricket Council policy in Test series. Although its use looked doubtful in the four matches starting tomorrow, ICC intervention ensured it would go ahead.

Dave Richardson, the organisation's cricket head, delivered a well-argued and zealous promotion of the system yesterday, claiming that it would help to eradicate incorrect decisions in Test matches without causing undue delay.

"We are not going to get every decision right every time but we expect that 97 per cent will be correct," he said. "The majority of players and umpires want it and, if we are going to have television using technology and showing wrong decisions, we have got to give umpires the chance to use it."

The DRS will be used largely to challenge catches close to the wicket and lbw verdicts. As in the trial period earlier this year, slow motion will be used and predictive technology which traces the probable path of the ball has been added. It was used in the recent series between New Zealand and Pakistan, and Australia and West Indies.

All decisions still have the potential to be contentious. For example, if the Hawk-Eye technology shows that only part of the ball was hitting part of the outside of a stump, an lbw verdict will stand whichever way it was given. In that case, if a fielding side seeks a review because the batsman was given not out the decision will stand. Similarly, if the batsman appeals after being given out, he will not be granted a reprieve. The sense of theatre is undeniable, though there will be long delays. There may also be tears before lunchtime.

Right to appeal: How the DRS works

*Each side has the right to ask for two reviews in each innings. For each decision upheld they lose a review.

*For lbws if the centre of the ball is shown as being between wicket and wicket at the point of impact the batsman is out. If no part of the ball was between wicket and wicket it is not out. Otherwise, the original decision stands.

*If technology shows the ball would have hit the stumps in an area designated by a line drawn beneath the lower edge of the bails and down the middle of the outer stumps the batsman is out. If it shows the ball making no contact at all it is not out. Otherwise the original verdict stands.

*Only the dismissed batsman or the fielding side's captain in a not out decision can ask for a review.