Review technology left people shocked during Ashwin-Elgar DRS-call at Newlands
Humans do make mistakes; there is nothing surprising in that fact of life but how can technology make errors when it follows a set algorithm and particularly those critical mistakes which certainly can make a huge difference in the outcome of the game.
Since the time of Decision Review System (DRS) being introduced in the game of cricket, there have been several instances where a player has been felt hard done by ball-tracking and such things.
In the 3rd Test in the Freedom Trophy 2021-22 between South Africa and India, a controversial incident took place. The series was nicely poised with both sides locked at 1-1 and had everything to play for in the third Test in Cape Town. Both teams hadn’t really displayed any notable difference between each other in their first innings of play. Although, shouldering on a sensational hundred from wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant, India threw a target of 212 at South Africa in the final innings.
The Proteas made a sound start before losing opener Aiden Markram; but since then, Keegan Petersen and captain Dean Elgar held fort for the hosts in the chase.
Ashwin vs Elgar - DRS comes under scanner
India’s premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was in the middle of a tidy spell and on his 16th ball in the 21st over of the innings, he trapped left-hander Dean Elgar in front of the stumps which the veteran on-field umpire Marais Erasmus hardly took a second to affirm as out. The batter didn’t look too confident to go for the review, but at last decided to call for the DRS.
The third umpire, Allahudien Paleker, confirmed that there was no inside edge; the moment Elgar saw that there was no inside edge, he began to walk to the dressing room and almost reached the boundary rope. But ball-tracking showed that the ball would be going over the stumps.
The reaction after the DRS decision
Erasmus, with a wry smile, had to change his decision as the stump mic picked the umpire saying, “That is impossible.” He couldn’t trust what he had seen on the big screen. A visibly irritated Indian captain, Virat Kohli, hit the turf with his shoes with a lot of frustration.
The whole world, through the stump mic, heard few of the Indian players, including Ravichandran Ashwin, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal and Kohli, express their rage at the review technology as well as the host broadcaster, SuperSport.
“You should find better ways to win, SuperSport,” Ashwin’s word reached many ears.
Kohli, who couldn’t believe his eyes, too had a few things to say, “Focus on your team as well when they shine the ball…not just the opposition! Trying to catch people all the time!” The Indian captain further went on to say, “Certainly, conducting a fair game here DRS.” This reaction may result him being fined by the match-referee but that is hardly going to bother him.
The words exchange didn’t stop there. Opener Mayank Agarwal who was ruled out in a controversial manner during the first Test at Centurion after being struck on the pads and given out on review, used his mouth in speaking something too, “Not good, you are making the sport look bad now, making the sport look bad.”
Mayank’s opening partner, KL Rahul, also boomed in, “Whole country playing against eleven guys.”
India lost the plot since then
At that moment, India would have wanted to channel their anger in pushing South Africa on the backfoot but ended up losing the plot providing too many freebies. Shardul Thakur bowled some leg-sided deliveries whereas Ashwin began to throw the ball much quicker in the air off which good-looking Keegan Petersen grabbed many runs and even didn’t hesitate to hit a reverse-sweep.
In about 54 balls since the incident, the home side had scored 41 runs. Kohli had to call his premier bowler, Jasprit Bumrah, who finally found the edge of Dean Elgar’s bat with a leg-sided delivery to call an early stumps on Day 3.
India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey, coming into the press conference, catalysed the situation. “We saw it, you saw it. I think I’ll leave that to the match-referee to have a look at it,” he said.
He even went on to shoot down the suggestion that through their angry reactions, India’s players had suggested foul play by host broadcasters SuperSports. “No, I don’t think so,” he stated categorically.
South Africa pacer, Lungi Ngidi, however had seen this situation with a different perspective. “Reactions like that show a bit of frustration and sometimes teams capitalise on that. That tells us that they are feeling a little bit of pressure,” he said.
Look at the DRS from a different perspective
With the disadvantage of being far from the ground and not knowing what exactly might have occurred on the field, no one has any right to speak on that. However, on the flipside of the coin, those scenes shouldn’t happen on the field and specially when the stump microphones were turned on, no one wants those reactions to reach the drawing rooms, especially the kids who consider these players as their role-models.
What the match-referee will do about the situation keeping in mind the circumstances, or will ICC step forward in this matter in the future; everyone has to wait for that.
South Africa, on the fourth day, went on to win the Newlands Test by seven wickets and took the Freedom Trophy 2021-22 by a margin of 2-1.