Cow Corner

Time for Australia to use final solution to the DRS problem

Cow Corner

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You'd think that running a country of 27 million people that has the world's 12th largest economy would be a big enough job that such leisurely pursuits as watching Test cricket would be out of the question.

Not if you're Kevin Rudd, who apparently popped on the telly in time to see Usman Khawaja given out in the opening session of the Third Test between England and Australia in bizarre circumstances.

"That was one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen," Tweeted the Australian prime minister.

Immediately there was a bit of a sensation around the world of sport, for the simple reason that there was something unseemly about a politician weighing in on cricket.

"That's a very unpoliticianlike thing to say," said Andrew Strauss on Sky Sports when he had the Tweet read out to him. "He's not mincing his words, is he? But I'd have to say I agree."

Strauss was actually blushing. That's not so extraordinary - he's got the aspect of a man who'd blush while asking his wife to pass the marmalade - but there was something particularly coy about his sheepishness on Thursday morning, as if he was trying not to snigger after being in the room when his headmaster farted.

But even Strauss knew that this was bigger than a respected senior figure easing out some methane. It was as if the craziness of the DRS decisions in this series so far had called for the Aussies to up the ante: normal sporting appeal channels will forthwith be abandoned in favour of an all-out diplomatic effort.

Whatever next? The First Cricket War, with Britain dispatching a fleet of nuclear submarines to Sydney Harbour?

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Cricket - Third Investec Ashes Test - Day One - England v Australia - Old Trafford

All-out war would obviously be ridiculous (despite the fact that Rudd refused to pledge allegiance to The Queen while being sworn in a few years ago, which clearly makes him 0.001243% more likely to start a war against Britain than most Aussie premiers). Really, it's a game, and there's no need for tanks or jet fighters. At least not yet.

Yet if you were ever going to start a war over cricket, this would be as good a time as any. Khawaja got a howler of a decision, and called for DRS to overturn it.

Replays showed the ball missed the bat by a mile, there was nothing on hotspot, and the mystery sound that apparently deceived the umpire was clearly shown not to have coincided with the ball passing the bat.

In other words, it was exactly the sort of blatant umpiring error that the system was designed to eradicate. And it failed to do so.

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Cricket - Third Investec Ashes Test - Day One - England v Australia - Old Trafford

Australia's use of DRS during this series has been rather like watching a drunken at a family barbecue. It's all clumsy misunderstanding and embarrassingly in appropriate things said at the exact wrong times. Whether you look at their part in the worst dismissal of all time, some toe-curling reactions like this and this, or a general misunderstanding of how to get the most out of the system, it's been a disaster.

And with that in mind it's surely time for Australia to take a fresh look at their relationship with DRS, and give it the big elbow.

India have successfully refused to use DRS despite plenty of political pressure on them; so why can't Australia just do the same? Just put their hands up and say that all things considered, it's doing their opponents more good than it's doing them, and refuse to use it?

Admittedly, it'd be the Ashes equivalent of the kid in the park who picks up his ball and goes home when things aren't going his way.

But hey, whatever works. After all, with a theoretical 39 more days of Test cricket to come between these two sides in the next six months, anything that makes it more of an even and exciting contest would be gratefully received on all sides.

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