Ashes 2013: Brad Haddin, Jonathan Trott’s dismissals highlight the lack of uniformity in implementation of DRS

England call for decisive review which ultimately sealed Australia’s fate in the first Test at Trent Bridge © Getty Images

Nishad Pai Vaidya studies the implications of Jonathan Trott and Brad Haddin’s latest dismissals at Trent Bridge. They do suggest that there is a lot to be cleared as far as technology in cricket is concerned. 

A hard-fought battle ensued at Trent Bridge, Nottingham as the old rivals fought tooth and nail for command with the game going down to the wire. Ultimately, an external hand played a decisive role as it tipped the balance in England’s favour at the most critical juncture as they vanquished Australia. The Decision Review System (DRS) is at the centre of the storm yet again and the Australians can feel hard done by as they fell short by a mere 14 runs in what was an exhilarating Test match.

Throughout the first Ashes Test, technology was tested and it did err with critical consequences. The whole complexion of the game could have been different as there were a few marginal calls and technology wasn’t the most reliable option. But, doesn’t the age old rule suggest: Give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman? If technology itself cannot produce conclusive data and there is reasonable doubt, shouldn’t the batsman be the beneficiary?

Let us revisit the instances where technology showed its imperfections at Trent Bridge.

Ashes 2013: Brad Haddin, Jonathan Trott’s dismissals highlight the lack of uniformity in implementation of DRS

Australia appeal for a leg before against Jonathan Trott in the second innings. The Hot Spot failed to show an inside edge, but videos suggested a deflection as the ball went past the bat © Getty Images

Jonathan Trott’s leg-before wicket decision: England’s number three couldn’t believe his luck as he was ruled leg-before in the second innings. The first ball he faced from Mitchell Starc was over-pitched and moving into him. It rapped him on the pads and looked pretty adjacent. But, there was something to suggest that the ball had taken the inside edge and a deflection was quite visible. Australia went for the review and Hot Spot did not show any edge. There was a technical problem as they were trying to produce the images for Joe Root’s dismissal — which had taken place the previous ball. With there being no confirmation of the edge, the third umpire overturned the on-field call and ruled Trott out. Even umpire Aleem Dar could not hide his astonishment.

Ashes 2013: Brad Haddin, Jonathan Trott’s dismissals highlight the lack of uniformity in implementation of DRS

Umpire Aleem Dar declares Brad Haddin (centre) out caught behind after England took the review © Getty Images

Brad Haddin’s inside edge: Fast-forward to the final ball of the game — where Haddin ‘’apparently’’ snicked one to the wicket-keeper. As James Anderson’s off-cutter went past Haddin’s inside-edge, there was a noise along the way before Matt Prior pouched it safely. With Australia only 15 runs away from victory and nerves all around, Alastair Cook went for the review. There was a feather on the Hot Spot, but some commentators suggested that it was there even before the ball had passed the bat. Since, that wasn’t quite conclusive, the third umpire asked for another replay and checked for the sound. There was a clear woody thud as the ball went past the bat and Haddin was given the marching orders. England sealed a dramatic victory in slightly controversial circumstances with that decision going in their favour.

What these two cases suggest is that there is no uniformity in the application of the DRS. During Trott’s dismissal, the Hot Spot wasn’t decisive and the umpire did have a look at the front camera angle. A deflection was quite evident as the ball changed is path and crashed into the pads. However, that wasn’t considered by the umpire and Trott was sent back to the pavilion. In Haddin’s case, the umpire had a look from the front and relied on the sound as the ball went past the bat. Hot Spot didn’t help the umpire a lot here as well.

The question is: How can you have two different set of rules for two dismissals? If the sound clipping from the front-angle could be used as evidence in Haddin’s dismissal, why couldn’t the video be used for Trott? After all, a deflection was visible there. If the umpire solely relied on Hot Spot for Trott’s case, why didn’t he do the same for Haddin? The video wasn’t taken into account while ruling Trott out, but an audio came into play for Haddin. Can you see the lack of uniformity?

This scenario takes one back to the England-India contest at The Oval in 2011. In the second innings, Rahul Dravid was adjudged not out for a bat-pad appeal. England took the review and the Hot Spot didn’t show a snick. However, the cameras did suggest that there was a deflection as it went past Dravid’s bat and then ballooned off his pads. The third umpire did not take the Hot Spot evidence into account and overturned the on-field call based on the video. Dravid later said that he had edged that one. When Hot Spot or Hawk-Eye fails, is it mandatory to look for other proof? If so, what should one turn to and how reliable would it be? That is where clear lines have to drawn by the authorities.

Ashes 2013: Brad Haddin, Jonathan Trott’s dismissals highlight the lack of uniformity in implementation of DRS

Rahul Dravid gets an inside-edge and is caught at short-leg. Hot Spot was inconclusive, but he was declared out at The Oval in 2011 © Getty Images

Apart from the Trott and Haddin howlers, there were other dismissals during the game that do raise key questions on the use of the DRS. Michael Clarke was quite confident that he didn’t edge one in the second innings, but Hot Spot showed otherwise. Phil Hughes was completely squared up by a turning delivery from Greame Swann as it hit his pads. Coming from around the wicket to the left-handed Hughes, Swann pitched it around leg-stump and it turned prodigiously to hit Hughes on the back-leg. Kumar Dharmasena wasn’t quite sure whether pitched in line. Hawk-Eye showed that it was marginally in line and Hughes was on his way. We all know that technology isn’t perfect and there is a chance it may get these marginal calls wrong.

Even as England celebrate their jail-break at Trent Bridge, miles way there is another party who would feel vindicated. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have been staunch opponents of the DRS and have prevented it from being mandatory. They have certain reservations against the system and their case has undoubtedly become stronger with the events at Trent Bridge. But, technology is the closest one can get to perfection. It is fallible — after all, it is made by the ‘’fallible’’ human beings. However, if the International Cricket Council (ICC) can bring about certain uniformity, it may help tackle technological howlers and may even convince the BCCI to change its stance.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)