When BCCI boss Shashank Manohar said the Decision Review System has to be ‘foolproof’, I’m sure he didn’t mean eliminating the guy sitting in front of the TV and getting decisions wrong after 25 replays.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am referring specifically to the first-ever day-night Test ever, at Adelaide in November, where umpire Nigel Llong gave new definition to the word ‘foolproof’.
He didn’t give Nathan Lyon out, when he was out. He didn’t see the hot spot as Lyon top-edged the pink ball.
He didn’t see Lyon walk almost all the way to the dressing room after seeing the replay.
Simply, he didn’t.
What he did see was Lyon shaking his vehemently after hitting the ball, like all true-blue Aussie batsmen.
Long story short, Lyon was part of a 74-run partnership which sealed the series in Australia’s favour.
What that decision also did was make the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) cheer lustily. Since Llong didn’t see, didn’t hear, didn’t.
Llong took long, very very long, to come to the wrong decision.
Exactly why Mr. Manohar says BCCI won’t adopt DRS till it is, well, foolproof.
Not sure if Manohar is given to cheering, but anyone in his place, who would be against the DRS, would be cheering every time the English umpire took a look at the appeal and messed up.
Perfect advertisement for the BCCI’s point of view, I must say.
One more thing that keeps us guessing is the exact role of the on-field umpire.
Now, there was a time when the umpires carried way fewer things. Over the years, their workload and payload have both gone up. Ironically, their roles have taken a dive in the opposite direction.
Gone are the days of carrying a notepad, pen, a ball shaper and a pair of small scissors.
Then came the light meter. Followed by the walkie-talkie (initially, some guys had to carry mobile phones!).
Then came the two-way radio stuck on the belt, the earpiece. In some tournament, the umpires had to lug cameras on top of their caps. The sheer weight of all this must be nuts.
Plus, given the huge bats being used nowadays, I am sure the officials wear abdomen guards. Why they don’t wear helmets take us back to the old joke was to which parts of the male anatomy the said males value more.
This brings me to a question which has been bothering me for a long time. Exactly what is the no-ball rule now?
Like in football, I just don’t get the off-side rule any more. I mean, who is off-side and who isn’t? If the guy is off-side but not at a certain place, it doesn’t matter if he is off-side. Oh, never mind.
So in cricket, if the front foot rule is that if the bowler’s front foot lands outside beyond the inner edge of the crease, it’s a no-ball.
Fine. Then why don’t the umpires call them?
Have you seen the number of no-balls that go uncalled nowadays? Almost all the no-balls are the ones off which batsmen get out.
Once the guy is out, then the third umpire wants to check no-ball. Or the on-field umpire.
But wasn’t that the whole idea? To have that chappie stand there and ensure the bowlers weren’t overstepping?
It’s all so confusing really.
No wonder Manohar doesn’t smile.
Farewell McCullum: That same Test, the one in Adelaide, also showed the strength of character that Brendon McCullum possesses.
There are several skippers in world cricket who wouldn’t stop whining about that clanger that cost his side the series.
But McCullum didn’t say a word. Which makes him a star.
He was a star anyway. Along with AB de Villiers, he is one batsman at least yours truly would go miles to watch.
What a batsman. Fearless and often reckless, he has often left us asking for more, cursing that his stay on the square was so short.
He is the champagne stuff of attack, never back down and hit everything.
So it will be a pity when he signs off at home in February.
Just as well that he does quit against the traditional rivals Australia. As things stand, New Zealand may well have a thing or two to get back at the Aussies for.
McCullum epitomises the kind of players whose approach makes a refreshing change from the other stars.
They do not care about stats, about how many runs short they are of which landmark, where they need to get how many runs to cross which aggregate or average.
These are players like Brian Lara, De Villiers, Virender Sehwag and McCullum. It is indeed a privilege to see them in action.
Equally a privilege to see them lead. I can list many other captains who would be in the dock with the ICC for taking pot shots at Llong. McCullum was silent.
But that’s another story.