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Sunday, 8 February 2009

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Mixed reviews from players on review system

CRICKET: KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb 6, 2009 - Players on both sides in the opening Test between West Indies and England have expressed skepticism about the umpire decision review system currently under trial by the sport's World governing body.

West Indies batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan may have benefitted from it twice on the second day of the Test at Sabina Park, but he abhors the so-called referral system, and England wicketkeeper/batsman Matt Prior believes there are still kinks that need to be worked out.

The referral system came into sharp focus on Thursday, when England's last two wickets - Steve Harmison and Monty Panesar - unsuccessfully challenged decisions against them, and then three lbw decisions were referred to video umpire Daryl Harper when West Indies batted.

The sole wicket for England before the close came when left-handed opener Devon Smith was adjudged lbw to Andrew Flintoff, after the visitors referred umpire Tony Hill's original "not-out" verdict to Harper. But Sarwan was twice let-off by the technology.

Crucially, he was on five, when an off-cutter from Steve Harmison struck him on the pads and Hill gave him "out", but Sarwan and batting partner Chris Gayle, the West Indies captain, asked for the decision to be referred and Harper overturned his colleague's decision. "I am not a big fan of the referral system," Sarwan told reporters. "We used it in our recent series in New Zealand, and it was a bit confusing. I am not a big fan of it, but I am glad it worked [on Thursday]."

The International Cricket Council has confirmed that the ongoing trial of the referral system will afford each side two unsuccessful reviews an innings rather than the three that were available previously. The change to the playing conditions of the trial was made after receiving initial feedback from players and match officials.

If it proves to be a successful modification in the first two Tests of this series, it will also be introduced for the final series to be used in the trial - Australia's tour to South Africa.

But Sarwan and his West Indies teammates would rather the trial not have started in the first place, although he may have been dismissed incorrectly.

"I think it is more important for us to concentrate on what we have to do - batting, bowling, fielding - and put it out of our minds," he said.

"I think it takes the umpires out of the game a bit too much. . .They are only human and will make mistakes, and probably something we as players need to understand.

"I have been incorrectly dismissed in the 90s before and I had to walk. If it happened again, I guess I would have to walk.

"And there are situations where you are batting and you are on 10, and you know you have edged the ball and the umpire says, 'not out', so I think these things tend to even themselves out."

Prior however, believes patience is needed before the entire referral system can be written off as a failure. "It is a bit weird, to be honest," he said. "It feels strange. When something is used for the first time, it takes some time getting used to it.

"I think it is a pretty instinctive thing. You may see something and think it is out, or you don't really.

"When the Steve Harmison decision [over Sarwan] wasn't given out, you almost second guess yourself a little bit. I thought it was pretty close, so then you start thinking what is out and what is not out. It is quite tricky." Prior's only concern is that the authorities make sure the system is fool-proof and the correct decisions are made all of the time. West Indies resume the third day on Friday on 160 for one, replying to England's first innings total of 318.

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