It’s been billed as the battle for the number one position in the Test rankings. Currently India sit top of the table but a series win by South Africa would take them to the top of the log. The Protea’s win in the opening Test takes them a step closer, but an Indian win in the final Test would keep them there for the April deadline, where whoever is leading then gets the cash prize.
So with the series being billed so highly, and with much at stake, surely only the best will do? South Africa has struggled to fill stadiums for Test cricket but the last couple of series, featuring Australia and England have seen record Test crowds show up. But those record crowds are basically half full stadiums each day. Those of us outside India expect to see big crowds for all games. The first Test was very poorly attended and makes me wonder why such a high profile match was not properly assigned? At least we move on to Eden Gardens for the next Test.
The main worry however was the lack of the review system. The ICC wants to make the review system mandatory at all Test matches, and rightly so. Calls for technology to be introduced to ensure the right decisions are reached are always the right way to go. Especially when the match has so much at stake, as this series does. There have hiccups in the trail period of the review system, but that can be sorted by ensuring that all the technology is available for all matches. The South Africa England Series didn’t have hot spot because it was being used in the Australia West Indies and Pakistan New Zealand Series. Everything needs to be used for all matches to ensure parity.
There has been debate about who should pick up the tab for hot spot and the such, with the ICC wanting the host broadcaster to pick up the tab and the host broadcaster wanting the ICC to. My feeling is that the ICC should pay as it is a cricket matter and not a broadcasting one. It would also ensure that the poorer nations would also benefit from the best technology. In terms of India the point is moot. India are the richest cricket board and would have no trouble paying. They make so much from the sport they should be made to put some back in.
But India don’t like the review system and so we aren’t using it. The ICC should insist but everyone bows down to India. India did not have the best time with the review system when they first trialed it and perhaps this is why they don’t want it. England and India are the least in favour of technology and that’s because both haven’t worked out how to use it. England were clueless when they were in South Africa. When South Africa first used it, against Australia, they too struggled with it. But they’ve learned to use it and are fully behind it, ensuring the right decisions are reached. Interestingly as far as England are concerned, they moaned and complained about the review system during the South Africa Series, but had they not been using it England would have lost the series 3-1, with Collingwood being given out on the final day of the Cape Town match before the review should him not out.
India need to embrace the way the game is moving and get used to it as quickly as they can before they are left behind. A problem they face is that their bowlers tend to appeal for everything, so deciding which decisions to review would not be easy. A lot of their play would be called into question and they would be caught out. Maybe this is why they have been so reluctant?
In the opening session of the series, Ashwell Prince, a player under pressure for his position, was given out caught when he didn’t hit it. He looked to captain Smith to review the decision, forgetting that it wasn’t an option. He had to walk. Career defining mistakes can now be rectified and that can’t be a bad thing. It’s all good and well saying that these things even themselves out, but when someone gets a bad decision and is dropped from the team, things evening themselves out offers him little respite.
After all I’ve said Indian captain Dhoni must be commended for walking both times before he had been given out. But the review system is the future of cricket and India need to get behind it. How they can host effectively a Test championship series and not have all the trimmings is crazy and should never have been allowed to happen.
pic from cricinfo.com