The Ashes have arrived. Not just the urn. The controversies too. And where controversies go the UDRS follows. After Jonathan Trott’s UDRS corrected dismissal in England’s second innings, the system has come under scrutiny again.
In the afterglow of their afternoon batting resurrection the Aussies came hard at the England batsmen, in their second innings Michelle Starc dismissing Joe Root caught behind down the leg side on five. Off the very next ball, Starc swung one in and caught Jonathan Trott smack on the pads in front of the wickets. Umpire Aleem Dar though was unmoved by the Australian team’s appeal. Trott indicated to his captain that he had caught the faintest of edges. Michael Clarke called for a review, and, to general amazement, and Dar’s evident chagrin, the third umpire, Marais Erasmus, overturned the decision.
The displeasure wasn’t limited to the field though. Nasser Hussain’s comment on the post match show, where he proceeded to say that Erasmus had ‘looking at a two-dimensional image proceeded to give the batsmen out without conclusive evidence of it being so’ made sure that this wasn’t going to be taken lying down. This after his much publicized courting of the system that enables correct decision-making.
In all fairness Erasmus didn’t have much of a choice (as Michael Holding correctly pointed out, sitting not five yards from Hussain). The ball had pitched in line, was hitting the stumps and the Snicko didn’t confirm an edge before the ball hit the pad. The Hot-Spot was apparently unavailable, having being used to record the nick from Root’s dismissal off the previous ball (The system cannot apparently record and play at the same time). All boxes ticked, Trott marched back leaving England reeling at 11-2. Technology said out. Human judgement (Dar probably heard bat on ball) was disregarded.
Earlier in the day, when debutant Ashton Agar was on 6, he was adjudged not out from a stumping opportunity off Grame Swann’s bowling. Agar’s foot was close to the line when Prior whipped the bails off. Kumar Dharmasena, signalled to the television umpire (Erasmus) immediately, deeming it too close to call.In a situation eerily reminiscent of Ian Bell’s stumping in the Champions Trophy final against India – where Bell was given out – England were on the wrong end again. The Aussie number eleven was given not out and went on to make 98 – the highest score by a number 11 in a test match – helping his side to a lead of 65 runs.
England have gone on to seek clarification from the ICC over the system. Suddenly India’s position on the UDRS doesn’t seem so strange.