Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Man Hears What He Wants To Hear (Take Two)

Or not. As the case may be.

Last time we were talking advice, and adding the and disregards the rest bit from the Paul Simon song, but this time we're talking snicks, aren't we?

Fielders and bowlers are very good at hearing snicks, even where there might not be a snick at all, a factor that results in regular high volume demands for an independent adjudication.

Batsmen (and, yes, I know I could be using batters, but I'm inclined to the view that batter is something you put on fish, and I prefer my fish without the slightest hint of violence, but, as I frequently do, digress)….

Batsmen, on the other hand, tend towards deafness, and are disinclined to notice associated tremors on the willow, which explains the frequency of discussions about walking, doesn't it?

Amid the controversy, sometimes the independent adjudication delivers an assessment that's at odds with the strongly held view of one of the interested parties.

Which is why we have this DRS, isn't it?

There is, of course, another reason why the beast exists, namely the propensity of television networks to conduct repeated forensic examination of the accuracy of the aforementioned independent adjudication.

Of course, when they were making those forensic examinations in the pre-DRS era they'd rabbit on endlessly about how wonderful it would be if the umpires were able to have access to all this marvellous technology while they proudly put their latest little toy through its paces.

And, yes, I know this is old territory, but I think it's important.

Having come up with a system that works pretty well from where I'm sitting, one wonders why it isn't universally accepted, and the only reason I can see for an argument about the accuracy of the technology is a perception that its use or non-use is going to be advantageous to the side in question.

Two referrals should be enough to eliminate obvious howlers, and a prudent captain won't waste his first one on a vague possibility that you might get Tendulkar cheaply. You might, after all, need that one when he's on a hundred and ninety, putting the attack to the sword and they're eight-for.

Trying it on for Sehwag early in the piece and losing one with Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman and Dhoni to come isn't exactly smart thinking either.

It's a bit different when your side is batting, of course, but if you've got a top order bat who repeatedly asks for unsuccessful referrals he'd want to be scoring a swag of runs, wouldn't he?

Given the fact that Sachin Tendulkar is a vocal critic of the DRS (strange, he's been on the wrong end of more dodgy decisions than some nations' entire Test XIs) I'm inclined to scratch my head and wonder what on earth is going on.

That mystification was significantly underscored by Harsha Bhogle's remarks on the matter on ABC radio yesterday morning.

From his point of view the technology is inadequate since the hot spot failed to detect the snick that was actually there.

As a rule, the absence of forensic evidence tends to eliminate possibilities, but there you go. A man hears what he wants to hear…

Even when there's no forensic evidence to support the allegation.

But all this does is underline the fact that we've got an Indian side that's here to win a series, and, arguably, are lining up as many factors as they cam on their side of the fence, while simultaneously removing as many as possible from the other side.

Fair enough. Under similar circumstances we'd be doing exactly the same, wouldn't we?

All of which underlines the fact that we've got a close contest on our hands at the moment, and, hopefully, a tense struggle through four Tests.

Based on what happened on the field yesterday we've got a beauty on our hands.

Given the presence of Sehwag, Dravid and Tendulkar at the crease the emerging Australian attack went about their business remarkably well.

Pattinson continues to impress as one spearhead, and there's the prospect of Cummins as the counterfoil. Siddle is showing the benefits of the change in bowling approach, Hilfenhaus looks much better than he did this time last year. Against this batting order I thought they've gone rather well, though I note with some alarm seven-sixty-fifths of the overs bowler coming from Messrs Hussey and Warner.

And Lyon, against a batting lineup that probably eats several finger spinners before breakfast, acquitted himself rather well. He's still a work in progress, but at least he's making progress.

And then, of course, there was the batting. That first ball after the tea break, for example.

But it's only one example.

At three-for, with Laxman, Kohli and Dhoni to come and a tail that'll probably wag itself you'd probably regard something around four hundred and fifty as par, so the first hour or so this morning will, in the currently popular parlance, be key.

But, as usual, we knew that, didn't we.

Actually, all of this merely underlines long-standing knowledge, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, given form over the years you have to suspect as things go down to the wire we'll have the increased possibility of fireworks. The niggle has started already with the DRS bit, and the Pattinson-Sehwag disagreement over the appropriate path for a bowler's follow through suggests we're in for increasing confrontation over the next few days.

Regardless of the outcome of this match, you can confidently expect more of the same when hostilities resume in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide.

From where I'm sitting it's effectively a game of chicken, and it'll be interesting to see who takes the backward step I don't think it's going to be India….

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