12 Dec

The Melbourne Stars were left fuming after a pair of incorrect LBW decisions hurt their batting innings in their second Big Bash League (BBL) clash – only for the Sydney Thunder to be on the wrong end of an umpire howler soon after. 

The trio of poor decisions left Australian cricket greats Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh calling on the BBL to introduce the Decision Review System (DRS) into the competition, in line with most International matches. 

Charismatic West Indian opener Andre Fletcher was the first to be dismissed for the Stars and immediately called for a video review of the decision only to be told the BBL doesn’t use DRS. Fletcher trudged off, clearly miffed, and was vindicated shortly afterwards when ball-tracking software showed the ball would have missed the stumps down the leg side. 

Glenn Maxwell soon followed. He looked in control of the match when he was dismissed for 39 off 29 in another moment of controversy. This time, spinner Cameron Green ripped in a full delivery that rapped Maxwell on the pads and saw the umpire raise his finger. Again, the ball-tracking software showed the ball pitched outside the line of leg stump, meaning Maxwell should have been given out. 

The Thunder in turn suffered an umpire error of their own when Australia star Usman Khawaja was given caught behind for just seven when attempting a ramp shot off Dilbar Hussain. There was a noise as the ball passed him by, but replays appeared to show the ball had brushed the pads, not the bat. 

The trio of poor decisions revived debate into whether the BBL should introduce video reviews to reduce umpire error. Typically, international T20s allow each team one unsuccessful review per innings, though a trial is currently being held which allows teams two unsuccessful reviews per innings. Reviews can be unpopular due to the length of time they add to the game, which is a key factor given the BBL’s family-friendly approach. 

Australian cricket legends Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist believe the extra time can be made up by other changes, such as scrapping the drinks break at the halfway (10-over) point of each innings, something which is not used in international T20 matches. 

Mark Waugh said: “I reckon we need one (review per team). I think we’ve seen three bad decisions today. We can afford the time, (just) take less time looking at boundary decisions about if someone’s touched the rope or not.” 

Adam Gilchrist agreed: “We don’t want to see the biggest names in Australian cricket in this tournament having to leave due to errors that can very quickly be overturned. The technology is around now that it won’t take much. We don’t need to pause the game a great deal”. 

Another consideration is the cost of the technology, but Gilchrist believes players would be happy to accept even a cut-price system ‘at a bare minimum’. 

The debate was in full flow this time last year, but Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive at that time, Kevin Roberts, delivered a blunt “no” when asked if it could be introduced during the current BBL campaign. “We’ll review the BBL in the ordinary course, at the end of the season,” Roberts said. 

The time for action has surely arrived for CA to maintain the credibility of their prestigious event. 

John Stephenson 


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