Regular readers know that I haven’t been the biggest fan of the UDRS. If it were up to me, we’d stick to as little meddling with the onfield umpire’s authority. But watching its latest incarnations, I’ve been fascinated with the sheer awkwardness the system has created. First, the umpire has to cross his arms and plead for mercy if his decision has been successfully reviewed. But secondly, imagine what it does for batsmen like Michael Clarke, who refuse to walk?
In the old days — um, five years ago, say — batsmen could stay at their crease and happily wait for an umpire to make his decision if they nicked (or didn’t) a ball to a fielder. If a replay showed his guilt, the batsman wouldn’t care; after all, it’s not his job to rule on an appeal, it’s the umpire’s. Impeccable logic. Now, however, if a batsman nicks a ball, as Clarke did off Pietersen on Day4 at Adelaide, he has no choice but to walk if he hit unless he wants to take a very silly bet that Hot Spot won’t catch him out. Otherwise, he’ll be caught out on a technological display of who-dun-it, exposing his lie. By standing at the crease and risking the review, the batsman’s complicity grows somewhat more embarrassing.
Ryan Harris had a different problem the other day. He nicked the ball and was given out, but he was convinced he didn’t touch the ball with his bat. So he reviewed the decision, but the technology didn’t back him up (or rather, it was inconclusive). Now, one of the things that infuriates me in cricket, especially in this Glorious Age of Batting, is the notion that the benefit of doubt should go to a batsman. But in Harris’ case, thankfully, the benefit of the doubt went to the umpire, and he was told to head off, and rightly so. Let’s peg back these batsmen a touch or two, please?