Use of the video leaves unlucky tourists to reap what they sow

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The Independent Online

There are apparently people who when confronted with the Standard Test Match Playing Conditions have requested a copy of the General Principles of Relativity simply because they can make more sense of it. Einstein himself would have been hard pushed yesterday to understand why sections 3.2.3.1 and 3.2.3.2 of the STMPC are as they are.

From the on-field umpires in the second Test, the application of the provisions was impeccable. Unhappily, the decisions that followed as a result were only half right. The game was left looking slightly daft (again) and England were deeper in a mire that was already engulfing them.

It was their misfortune that two incidents in close succession magnified the debate.

First came Andrew Strauss, who in trying to break free of the shackles in which Anil Kumble had bound him, essayed a sweep shot.

The execution was neither perfect nor hopeless but from it the ball ballooned up and was caught by the wicketkeeper, Mahendra Dhoni. As Simon Taufel is entitled to do under 3.2.3.2, which governs bump balls, he referred the incident to the TV umpire.

The replay showed that Strauss had swept the ball on to his boot from where it sneaked along his pad and up into the air. He was out. Not long after Kevin Pietersen also swept.

There may be a case for suggesting that neither of them should have been playing what is in essence an attacking stroke when all England needed to do was survive, but that is another matter. It is impossible solely to defend.

Pietersen made a mess of the stroke and the ball was caught by Rahul Dravid, who had just positioned himself at leg slip which apart from anything else made it an astute piece of captaincy. The appeal was immediately upheld by Darryl Hair and just as quickly Pietersen motioned to his forearm.

The subsequent slow-motion replay indeed showed that the ball had come off Pietersen's arm. But under 3.2.3.1 Hair was not permitted to refer it because he had a clear sight of what happened. It was only his judgement that, for once, let him down.

This seemed to demonstrate that there is a case for all catches being referred, but this would slow up the game. Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, has long advocated a system of appeals by a fielding side, restricted in number, but this would go against one of the tenets of the game - that the umpire is right.

Pietersen might have been unlucky but he was, as they say, having a larf if he thought he had a case. Last week in Nagpur Pietersen's drive back to the bowler, Kumble, was referred to the third umpire because it might have been a bump ball. The only man in the ground who thought it was after the replay was the third umpire but he was the one who mattered, and Pietersen, 36 at the time, went on to add another 51 crucial runs. It is probably there in STMPC 42.11.1: What goes around comes around.

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