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The Ten: DRS What-Ifs

Ben Gardner by Ben Gardner 15 minute read

When going upstairs could have made all the difference…


It’s true that Sri Lanka were 142 runs shy of their target, chasing 506 at Hobart, when a Stuart Clark bouncer looped off the Sri Lankan’s shoulder to Ricky Ponting, only to be given out caught by umpire Rudi Koertzen, but it still felt like something special had been terminated. The decision drew a disgruntled reaction from the typically gracious Kumar Sangakkara, 192 runs to his name, in the form of his life and giving a masterclass in batting with the tail. Kumar and Koertzen soon made up, with the umpire apologising for the incorrect triggering soon after the game finished.

Rudi Koertzen gave Sanga out short of his double century

Rudi Koertzen gave Sanga out short of his double century


Edgbaston, 2008. South Africa were 133-4 chasing 281, when Monty Panesar turned one in from the rough, rapping Proteas captain Graeme Smith on the pads. Given how much it turned, you could hardly blame the umpire for not giving it out, but HawkEye, strictly being used for TV purposes at the time, indicated it would have smashed into middle. Smith went on to 154*, perhaps his greatest innings, and with the series lost, England captain Michael Vaughan prepared his resignation speech.

Would Vaughan have stayed on if Smith had been given?

Would Vaughan have stayed on if Smith had been given?

8. 400-400 = 0

Test cricket’s only quadruple might have been cut short if DRS had been around, as Geraint Jones, who watched the entirety of Lara’s marathon from behind the stumps on Test debut, told AOC: “On his fourth or fifth ball, when he was yet to score, we had a massive appeal against him. Harmy was bowling and we all went up for the nick. In this day and age we would have definitely reviewed it, without a shadow of a doubt. I still give him stick about not walking, but he’ll never admit he got anywhere near it. That would have been my first catch!”


“In my opinion the two great players were jealous of one another,” said Keith Miller, and it’s no secret that while Don Bradman and Wally Hammond shared a love of scoring runs, they also shared a dislike of each other. Perhaps had DRS been around, it could have been lessened. Hammond led a ‘goodwill’ tour to Australia following the Second World War, which could have been the ideal chance to start afresh. Instead, he was angered by Bradman’s refusal to walk in both of the first two Tests, and with no way to settle the issue the two didn’t speak for the remainder of the visit.

Wally Hammond and Don Bradman: not great mates

Wally Hammond and Don Bradman: not great mates


“If umpire Steve Bucknor had raised his finger, or the Decision Review System had been invented, England would not still be searching for their first World Cup title,” fumed Derek Pringle in the Daily Mail, some 13 years after England were denied a World Cup win by Pakistan’s ‘Cornered Tigers’ at the MCG. “Blaming the umpire is the province of the loser but on this occasion even the batsman, Javed Miandad, reckoned he was out lbw. I know because I was the bowler and, as he later admitted, ‘Allah smiled on me’ that March day in Melbourne 23 years ago.”


In 1993 at Adelaide, West Indies were two Australian runs from losing their first series since 1980, when a Courtney Walsh bumper flew past Craig McDermott’s nose to the keeper, brushing something on its way – possibly glove, but probably grille. Nonetheless, it was given out to seal the victory by a solitary run, the narrowest in Test history. The West Indies went on to win the series. “Over a few beers that night I watched it on the big screen about 400 times trying to work out if I’d hit it,” says McDermott. If only there’d been some sort of technology around to say one way or the other.


The match in which Adam Gilchrist announced himself as a Test player – smashing 149 off 163 balls against Waqar, Wasim, Shoaib and Mushtaq in a chase of 369 to seal victory by four wickets in only his second Test – could have been so different had a caught-behind appeal against Justin Langer, then 76, been upheld. The left-hander would extend his partnership with Gilchrist by 132 runs, denying Pakistan a series-levelling victory. Post-match, Langer blamed a “clicky bat handle” for a sound you wouldn’t need UltraEdge to pick up, before finally, 17 years later, admitting, “straight up, I smashed it”.

Guilty look? Justin Langer

Guilty look? Justin Langer


The Champions Trophy Final 2004. At The Oval, the West Indies needed 37 off 43, with two wickets in hand. Flintoff steamed in, bowled it full, straight and quick, beating Courtney Browne’s flick and striking him on the crease in front of middle stump. Umpire Simon Taufel detected an inside-edge, but replays suggested otherwise, and Browne and Ian Bradshaw went on to seal a famous victory. England are still waiting to win a global 50-over trophy.


“Before I even played the ball, I could see his finger going up,” said No.11 Maninder Singh, whose dismissal brought about the second tied Test, between Australia and India at Madras in 1986. He maintains to this day that he edged the ball into his pads, a view which Australia’s captain, Allan Border, seemed to hold at the time – he didn’t appeal, instead chasing after the ball to prevent what would have been a match-winning single. Umpire V. Vikramraju never again officiated in a Test match.


Just think. “Jones! Bowden! Kasprowicz the man to go,” could have been “Jones! Bowden! But Kasprowicz has reviewed straight away… I think his glove might have been off the bat here, that’s an excellent use of DRS”. Australia would have been 2-0 up. Collingwood would never have gotten an MBE. Except of course, Bowden shot down a plumb LBW appeal against Lee off Flintoff 52 runs earlier that would surely have been overturned. But then England benefitted from another mistake at Trent Bridge, when Simon Katich was given LBW to a ball that clearly pitched outside leg, with Australia attempting to set a tricky target. But then, I suppose, we could keep doing this forever…


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