Pink balls sliding on more quickly than the red (Ajinkya Rahane), temperaments more suited to white-ball cricket (Virat Kohli)– the excuses and explanations for England and Indian batting collapses in Ahmedabad last week keep coming. But things are unlikely to get easier for batsmen caught in such spin traps in the longer-term if the ICC accepts a change to the Law recommended to them by the MCC last week.
Shane Warne, who would have probably shot England out for a single-figure score had he been let loose on the Modi-Dome allotment, has disclosed that he was the prime mover in pushing the cricket committee of the game’s guardian to confirm its opposition to “umpire’s call” in the decision review system.
Warne sits on the committee with the likes of Kumar Sangakkara and Ricky Ponting and they have advised the ICC, the body now responsible for instituting the Laws, to make the adjustment.
The former leg spinner told Fox Cricket: “We discussed this for about an hour and a half. I’ve put forward that I think we should remove umpire’s call because you can’t have the same ball out or not out depending on what the on-field umpire said.
“You can’t have the same ball out or not out in my opinion and, generally, people thought the same.
“So we’ve recommended to the ICC that the umpire’s original decision on the field should be removed. Everyone was unanimous with it.”
The committee said last week that some members thought the Law as it stands was “confusing to the general public”. They felt it would be simpler if the original decision “was disregarded on review and there was a simple out or not out”.
But any change to the Laws would offer richer pickings to the likes of Ravi Ashwin and Axar Patel, as batsmen who would have escaped on umpire’s call when less than 50 per cent of the ball clips the stumps find that option is no longer available to them.
Crucially, missing from much of the debate about how 21 out of 30 wickets were captured with straight balls on a raging turner was an argument very much in vogue when the DRS system was relatively new: that batsmen struck on the pads are more likely to be given out lbw since its inception.
In the past, batsmen would often prop forward against spinners and umpires would happily give them the benefit of the doubt (what an outmoded concept!) if they were considered a long way down the pitch; straight balls were often considered to be sliding down the leg-side. Equally, reviews have allowed umpires to see whether bat or pad has been hit first when there is confusion – overruling the naked eye, which cannot discriminate when the two happen closely together, and therefore earning the batsman a reprieve in most such circumstances.
The result is that Ashwin, Patel – even Joe Root – may go on to reap the benefits of what those that came before them were unable to do. As Yuvraj Singh put it in his tweet about the Motera pitch: “Finished in two days. Not sure if that’s good for Test cricket. If Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh bowled on these kind of wickets they would be sitting on 1,000 and 800” – unlike the 619 and 417 they ended with respectively.