David Leggat: Knickers and bugbears should be smoothed

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Remember folks, it's only a trial. Knickers can be untwisted, at least for the moment.

The umpiring referral system is having its second tryout during New Zealand's series against the West Indies. The evidence so far? Yes, it has promise, certainly it adds a measure of theatre and undoubtedly it helps get decisions right. But without question, rough edges need smoothing off.

The biggest bugbear was there yesterday for all to see - unless you were a spectator at the ground - at 3.20pm yesterday.

Midway through his 14th over, New Zealand captain Dan Vettori struck West Indian wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin on his front pad and appealed vociferously.

Umpire Amish Saheba - who seems to have been central to all the referrals thus far in his test debut - signalled Ramdin out. Ramdin wandered slowly away, then had a word with his experienced partner, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, and signalled for a challenge to the third umpire.

What then transpired was manna to the nay-sayers who want the referral system put in the bin. It took five minutes for Rudi Koertzen in his booth to communicate to Saheba that his decision was correct.

Then Saheba had a chat to his fellow umpire Mark Benson. Players milled about and with nothing showing on the replay screen the crowd were out of the loop.

So they slow-handclapped while this palaver dragged on. Finally Saheba raised his finger, again, and Ramdin was on his way. The over took 11 minutes, and that is no joke.

Before lunch, Vettori had his hands up shaped in the T signal to register a challenge almost before Saheba had turned down a bat-pad appeal against Xavier Marshall.

Replays showed the ball had bounced from Marshall's pad onto bat into Jesse Ryder's hands at short leg. But this was a quick turnaround - only eight minutes for that over.

This test is doing what it is supposed to; that is, showing up flaws in the system which can be remedied.

The fixit men at the International Cricket Council have plenty of tuneup work ahead.

- NZ Herald

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