By The Bug’s cricket writer Don Gordon-Brown
The International Cricket Council has not only fully endorsed the game’s direct referral system (DRS) on umpires’ calls but will adjust the records of all Test players in history to reflect how they would have gone if “the man upstairs” had played a role during their international careers.
The shock ICC statement came on the very day that the umpires controlling the Australia-India Test in Sydney repeatedly made the wrong call and former Test skipper Ian Chappell called the DRS “a load of rubbish” and badly in need of repair.
Cricket fans were appalled yesterday when former Test players Paul Reiffel and Paul Wilson repeatedly had to change their decisions on review, and Reiffel’s guide dog at one point barked in frustration after his master had given a player out LBW when even Ian Chappell watching the game through the bottom of his glass could see the ball would have easily cleared the stumps.
In fully supporting the DRS system, the ICC has gone further and has ordered that the performance records of all Test players in the era before DRS be dramatically adjusted to reflect how they would have gone in their entire careers if DRS had been in play.
Using complicated algorithms and available footage, the ICC has created new stats for all players before DRS and the results will shock cricket fans worthwhile.
An ICC spokesperson explained that the time-consuming process showed that batsman and bowlers both suffered similarly in their pre-DRS careers in that if DRS had existed, it would have given both good and bad news with either the ball or the bat.
“Take run outs for example. Batsmen before DRS were always given the benefit of the doubt as the umpire had to supposedly – and simultaneously – watch the wicket being broken and where the player’s bat was in relation to the popping crease. A very difficult thing to do which is why batsman were often given the benefit of the doubt.
“As we’ve seen in the current series, the player is sent packing by DRS if the bat is not a millimetre past the crease.
“Keith Stackpole scored 207 at the Gabba once despite the fact that he was run out by about five yards very early in his knock, as a photo in The Courier-Mail the next day clearly showed. We’ve had to assess that against times he was given out unfairly – say when a faint edge onto the pads was missed in an arena packed with 70,000 roaring fans.
“His Test batting record has nevertheless been reduced accordingly from 37.4 to 29.52.
Fans of Shane Warne will be appalled to hear that his Test career that stretched from 1992 until 2007 will now show his 708 wickets at an average of 25.41 have been reduced to 494 wickets at 40.12.
“Shane appealed after almost every ball and finally wore umpires down. He was the perfect squeaky wheel and the oily finger went up far more often than it should have.”
The ICC spokesperson gave one example of how a player’s stats would have been both improved and worsened by DRS.
“Michael Kasprowicz once got a positive response from the umpire in a Melboune Test for his appeal for LBW and footage of the game does in fact show the ball would have hit leg stump – but only if a second set of stumps had been placed on the leg side of the existing pegs!
“But then again, if DRS had been available during the famous 2005 Ashes tour, the third umpire would have overruled the crooked finger Billy Bowden put up when he ruled Kasprowicz had gloved the ball behind, seeing the glove was off the bat at the time meaning he was clearly not out.
“Would he and Brett Lee have gone on to get the couple of runs needed for an amazing win? We’ll never know.”
Amazingly, the big Queenslander’s Test bowling and batting averages remain the same after the ICC’s in-depth evaluation of the sport pre-DRS.
The one bright spot for Australia’s cricket tragics is that The Don’s Test average has been revised upward to 102.24 from 99.94 which means the ABC will need a new post box number.
“We found out that Donald Bradman was rarely run out and an undetected feather behind from the bat or glove was very unlikely when your eyes and reflexes are that good that you’re hitting runs instead.
“But The Don did get a couple of dodgy LBW decisions from biased Pommie umpires and the adjustments made to his Test record mean he has finally hit his ton. Well done, sir!”
At top, from left: Shane Warne, Keith Stackpole, Michael Kasprowicz and Don Bradman.