A bitter row has erupted over the use of the Decision Review System in the Bengaluru Test, with Indian skipper Virat Kohli alleging that the Australians had sought assistance from their dressing room on more than one occasion while using the DRS, in violation of ICC rules.
Matters came to a head Tuesday when captain Steven Smith was seen seeking help from the dressing room after being adjudged lbw off Umesh Yadav before the hosts scripted a come-from-behind 75-run win to level the four-Test series 1-1.
Smith later admitted that he had looked towards the dressing room and described his action as the result of a “brain fade”. But sources in the Indian team told The Indian Express that they believe the Australians have a designated person in the dressing room who, after watching the live feed on TV, communicates his advice to the players on the field.
Sources said that after the first Test in Pune, which India lost, there was growing suspicion in the Indian camp that the Australians were bending the DRS rule, but did not have video evidence to back their claims.
According to ICC’s rules, “If the umpires believe that the captain or batsman has received direct or indirect input emanating other than from the players on the field, then they may at their discretion decline the request for a Player Review. In particular, signals from the dressing room must not be given.”
In Smith’s case, the Australian captain walked over to non-striker Peter Handscomb, after umpire Nigel Llong had raised the finger, to consult if there was a case for the decision to be reviewed. After a chat, Smith turned and gestured towards the Australian dressing room. As Kohli gesticulated angrily at Smith, Llong swiftly stepped in and told the Australian that he couldn’t do that.
After the match, Kohli said he had seen the Australians flouting the DRS rule on at least two previous occasions, and that he had conveyed this to the umpires and the match referee Chris Broad. “I saw that happening two times when I was batting out there. I pointed it out to the umpire as well, that it’s happened twice, that I’ve seen their players looking upstairs for confirmation, and that’s why the umpire was at him,” he said.
However, the Australian newspaper Daily Telegraph quoted Broad as saying that “the only time the umpires were aware of Australians looking upto to the box during DRS was the Smith incident”.
Smith, meanwhile, told reporters that he had done something that he should have avoided. “Obviously, I got hit on the pad and looked down to Handscomb and he said ‘look out there’. Then I just turned around and said, ‘what do you reckon?’ It was a bit of brain fade on my behalf. Shouldn’t have done that. I was looking at our boys,” he said.
Kohli, however, claimed that it had been happening throughout the Test. “They have been doing that for the last three days and this has to stop. When he (Smith) turned back, the umpire knew exactly what was going on, because we observed that, we told the match referee and the umpires… there’s a line that you don’t cross on the cricket field, because sledging and playing against the opponents is different, but. I don’t want to mention the word, but it falls in that bracket. I would never do something like that on the cricket field,” said Kohli.
Asked if that word was cheating, Kohli said, “I didn’t say that. You did.”
The Indian skipper added, “Honestly, if someone makes a mistake while batting, for me personally, that’s a brain fade. The way I left the ball in Pune and got out, that was a brain fade. But if something is going on for three days, then that’s not a brain fade, as simple as that. I don’t want to say more on that, videos are out there for everyone to see. It was getting repetitive, that’s why the umpires also knew that it might happen again. I saw it two times when I was batting, I can vouch for that.”
The Indian cricket board’s official website too didn’t hold back. They put up the video of the incident, and captioned it thus: “DRS: Dressing room review system?”