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Boxing Day Test, Australia v West Indies: DRS takes day off in ball-tracking shocker

It was the kind of moment that would have worked the technology sceptics in India into a lather. The only positive was that it didn't cost a team a wicket at a more crucial juncture of a more evenly contested Test match.

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Most wouldn't have believed that there would be a fourth day of the second Test between Australia and the West Indies and on Tuesday afternoon at the MCG it appeared that the game's ball-tracking device - or Eagle Eye - had decided to have the day off as well.

In farcical scenes the television umpire Ian Gould was left stranded - and speechless - as he waited for the computer software to "build" a virtual picture of Peter Siddle's delivery to West Indies captain Jason Holder following a review by Australian captain Steve Smith.

DRS problems didn't affect result: Issues with the referral system didn't take any gloss off Australia's win.
DRS problems didn't affect result: Issues with the referral system didn't take any gloss off Australia's win.  Photo: Getty Images

As it turned out, he was waiting in vain. It was soon announced that Eagle Eye had gathered no footage of that particular ball and the initial decision, made by on-field umpire Marais Erasmus, would remain. 

The Australians were given their review back but looked decidedly displeased despite the impression that Siddle's delivery, which pitched on off and middle stump and was hitting Holder's front pad on middle and leg, was probably creeping down the leg side. 

Smith said he was "not 100 per cent sure yet" exactly what had gone wrong with Eagle Eye.

"We've made a few enquiries and we're going to talk to the match referee later on. But it's not ideal if it's shut down and not working."

He joked, however: "I think after looking at (the replay) I was pretty lucky to get my review back actually. So it was a nice time to stop working."

The episode, then, in all likelihood did not cost Australia the wicket of Holder, then on 29, and who went on to top score in the West Indies second innings.

Holder said the incident was "quite surprising". "Of all the Test playing countries Australia is pretty much right up there with all the technology," he said. 

"But you have malfunctions and glitches. You can't be perfect. You just have to hope they get it right most of the time."

The breakdown will have served to reinforce the positions of those who argue such technology should have no place in the game unless it is entirely foolproof.

Cricket's most powerful body, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, has been the chief opponent of the decision review system, claiming it is not 100 per cent accurate and refusing to have it used in bilateral series.

It is said that their stance has been driven by the scepticism of their now retired legend Sachin Tendulkar and their former Test captain MS Dhoni, who now plays only limited-overs cricket.

Whatever the origins of India's intransigence it is an issue they have not been budged on.

The ball-tracking, which plots the ball's path towards the stumps and the one that malfunctioned on Tuesday, continues to be India's primary area of mistrust.

"Actually telling you the truth, the BCCI was never against the DRS system right from the time of my earlier tenure," the new BCCI president Shashank Manohar said last week, maintaining their position would remain unchanged unless the system became foolproof. 

"We had issues only regarding the leg before decisions to be decided by the DRS system. For everything else we were accepting the DRS system."

Answering questions on the BCCI's Facebook page Manohar added: "We are not willing to accept the DRS system for leg-before (decisions) because when you shoot it from a distance, a parallax develops and then you are not able to give the exact direction of the delivery.

"Secondly, instead of the umpire imagining the bounce and the direction of the trajectory, it is the person sitting behind the camera who is going into the DRS. He is going to have his imagination put in the place of the umpire's imagination with regard to the bounce."

Having seen the DRS go missing at the MCG on Tuesday, don't expect any movement from the Indians anytime soon.

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