David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: Still paying price for lack of technology

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New Zealand players celebrate the controversial wicket of Pakistan's Younis Khan at the Basin Reserve in Wellington yesterday. Photo / Getty Images
New Zealand players celebrate the controversial wicket of Pakistan's Younis Khan at the Basin Reserve in Wellington yesterday. Photo / Getty Images

Seven and rising.

Like a well-made souffle, the number of dud umpiring decisions when there's no recourse to technology is sure to rise.

When Younis Khan was given caught at short leg yesterday a ball before the tea break, he was suitably dismayed. And with good reason.

The ball from Dan Vettori bounced off his front pad into the hands of Jesse Ryder, his bat being some distance away from the action. The New Zealand team, wicketless through the middle session, went up and umpire Rod Tucker raised his finger.

Don't blame the fielding team. They might have thought bat was involved and in any case you try for what you can these days.

With no Umpire Decision Review System in place, courtesy of International Cricket Council inaction and the Indian board's intransigence, umpires Tucker and Darryl Harper have been left to their own devices.

The first two days of the test contained six decisions of which referrals would almost certainly have been sought.

The umpires should be cut some slack on those days when the northerly howled at the Basin Reserve. Trying to make decisions while being buffeted and in one instance trying to hold on to his hat, is no doddle for the decision-makers.

Of the seven wrong calls, Pakistan were on the rough end of five, but that's irrelevant. It could easily have been the other way.

With the ICC failing to resolve an impasse involving technology providers and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, for whom this is another opportunity to flex its muscles on the world game, this is what we are left with.

Vettori is a supporter of the UDRS system, but wants it in all test series.

It is being used during the overblown seven-game ODI series between Australia and England at the moment, as a trial run for the World Cup, starting on the sub-continent on February 19.

"You just have to get on with it," Vettori said of the present situation. "I've tried to be as consistent as possible. The system is good for cricket and 99 per cent of people think the same way. It's just a matter of convincing the other 1 per cent."

The 1 per cent hail from the game's financial giant and their particular issue is evidently with the predictive path on lbw decisions. That is the line which follows after a ball strikes the batsman's pad and like a ropey game show, tries to show what would have happened next.

The Indians have a point, up to a point. It's not perfect. Trying to say with any certainty what the ball will do in the final metre before it reaches the stumps is using a degree of guesswork.

The purpose of late swing is just that. The idea of spinning the ball is just that, to make it change direction after bouncing. How much is the question.

One short term solution: allow players to seek referrals for catches only. For the moment, leave lbw decisions solely to the umpires until India are won over, which will not happen any time soon.

Had batsmen and the fielding captain been able to avail themselves of that option in this test, five wrong decisions would have been corrected, so far. Martin Guptill, Chris Martin and Taufeeq Umar would have had their innings cut short; Mohammad Hafeez and Younis would have been reprieved.

It is a halfway-house solution, but in this case, half a house would be better than none.

- NZ Herald

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