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Cricket has now become the sport most reliant on electronic aid for officials.  Yet, as is usually the way in cricket, something new has been introduced in bewildering fashion.

When the ICC announces their plans for the review system, it seemed that reaction to it was almost universally positive.  Yet, as it has been tested in games, the flaws are now becoming more and more apparent.

Alarm bells should have started ringing when Sri Lanka and India decided that they didn’t want to use the system in their series.  Apparently, the review “rule” is actually something that players can pick and choose whether they fancy using.  Somehow, this means that two test series played at the same time can be played under different conditions.  Not only that, but the ICC are quite content with that.

The players are undoubtedly confused by it.   It would take a heart of stone not to chuckle at Chris Gayle calling for a review when only his ankle stopped the ball from taking out the base of middle stump.  If the players can make that sort of mistake, why does the umpire need to have his every decision scrutinised?

Then we come to the way that a referral is sought.  Players have to literally go up to the umpire and make a signal saying “I think you are wrong”.  What sort of example is this setting to the young generation of cricket fans around the world?  The first thing kids are taught is “the word of the umpire is final”.  Yet now, they see their heroes essentially arguing with the decision of the umpire.

Despite all this, one moment today has highlighted exactly why this system cannot stay, despite the fact that the right decision was actually made.   Stuart Broad was given not out when he was unquestionably out.  The ball hit him in line, and was taking out middle stump.  Yet South Africa needed 35 seconds to decide whether or not to risk their final review.  The allegation is that they waited for their analyst to check the replay before deciding.  If this is the case, it is a very dangerous precedent to set.

Stuart Broad will now find himself in hot water for arguing with the umpire’s decision, and rightly so.  Yet why is it OK for Aleem Dar to say Broad was not out, and for Smith to tell him that he thinks he was wrong, while if Broad does the same thing after the decision is reversed, he is fined?

South Africa have also been sinned against with this system.  Yesterday, a close LBW on Jonathan Trott was deemed not out.  South Africa asked for a review, and every camera angle and gadget suggested it was indeed out.  It hit him in line, there was no edge, it was not a no ball, and HawkEye had it hitting leg stump.  The decision from the third umpire was not out.

With any luck, the review system will either be drastically remodelled or dropped completely.  If the ICC really must have it, I would suggest only one unsuccessful review per innings.  This would mean that only the absolute howlers were challenged.  Also, if faith is to be put in HawkEye, surely it’s word must be taken as gospel?  Leaving grey areas all over the place is only going to make issues like those of today more and more commonplace.

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