What Prior’s stroke of luck could mean for DRS

This blog is a broad church when it comes to the Decision Review System. My colleague James is a keen advocate, while I’ve always been an opponent – one reason being that ball-tracking still requires assumptions and guess-work, just as naked-eye umpiring does.

Which is why I couldn’t help but be intrigued by an e-mail from TFT reader Giffenman, who draws a very interesting conclusion from Matt Prior’s lucky escape in the final innings at Auckland last week.

I’ll hand you over now Giffenman to explain himself…


In the recently concluded test match between New Zealand and England an event occurred which in this writer’s opinion once again questions the predictability of an lbw decision as a method of dismissing a batsman and especially the DRS system which is being touted as a scientific fact. On the last ball of the 99th over in England’s second innings, to quote Andy Zaltzman in Cricinfo:

The ball ricocheted from Prior’s flailing bat/arms/head, and plonked downwards, in accordance the traditions of gravity, onto the timbers. It did not brush the stumps. It did not snick the stumps. It did not gently fondle the stumps. It hit the stumps. The bails, perhaps patriotically mindful of their origins in early cricket in England all those years ago, defied all the conventional principles of science by not falling off.

If the stumps and bails had behaved as cricketing precedent and Isaac Newton would have expected them to behave, England would have been seven wickets down with 43 overs left.

If the ball having hit the stumps fails to dislodge the bails then doesn’t it introduce even more uncertainty into a DRS based lbw decision which its supporters claim to be irrefutable evidence? This incident requires that in an lbw appeal the DRS should not only predict whether the ball, if not impeded by the batsman illegally, would have gone on to hit the stumps but also if it would dislodge the bails.

Supporters of the DRS rely on the infallibility of scientific laws to promote their support for technology. Then, like true scientists they should admit the weakness of their science whenever an anomaly appears. Assuming for a moment that these scientific laws are infallible then how do they explain the reprieve that Prior obtained? Also, shouldn’t the DRS have been used to declare Prior out since the ball had actually hit the stumps?

Hence I would like to make a suggestion which may unite the supporters and opponents of the DRS. I suggest that the LBW as a method of dismissing a batsman should be struck off from the laws of cricket. Instead, a run penalty should be imposed on the batsman every time the ball comes in contact with an  ‘illegal’ part of his/her body. The DRS could be used to adjudicate on this decision. The penalty could be  ten runs and increasing every time the batsman uses such illegitimate methods to stay at the crease.


You’ve got to admit it – he has a point. What do you think? Your views please…




  • THe epic 411 stand by May and Cowdrey v. West Indies in 1957 would have be reduced by about 1,000 runs had padwork incurred a run penalty

  • I think this moment is just one of the oddities of cricket that make it so appealing, was a one in a million moment. Interestingly though as stumps get hit and knocked out during the match, they become looser in their holes, in that game they were barely hit, so were still solidly in their holes so barely moved when the ball hit them.

    Look at the stumps in India, Monty was knocking them clean out they were so loose, had they been like that in NZ thebails would have been dislodged for sure.

  • I can’t advocate getting rid of the LBW law – in a match-saving, run-irrelevant situation, a defending batting side could just stand in front of the stumps all day.

    But the DRS question is a significant one. How can the ball tracking determine whether the ball would have hit the stumps with enough force to dislodge the bails?

    • Its not designed to undertake this function. I am currently in detailed discussion with a manufacturer to produce for the ICC the Goose’s Bails Balance Momentum Machine (GBBMM as it will now be known as) to rid the game of this disgraceful blight of poor decisions relating to debatable bowled or hit wicket decisions. I have run the data through the GBBMM and found that Graham Gooch’s handled the ball in the Ashes in 1993 is null and void as the ball would not have hit the wicket and disturbed the bails. Therefore, I have written to the ICC and Wisden to declare the 1993 Ashes as a sham and state that there is no declared winner.

  • Goose, how much do you charge for your GBBMM technology? My name is Giles Clarke (you might have heard of me) and I represent the ECB. We would love to use your device in home test matches – just to wind up India more than anything. The more technology the better. I did hear about a machine called the ‘Scrotometer’ a few years back. Some Australian outfit was plugging it. Apparently it measured the player comfort level – with particular emphasis on the moisture content of their jockstraps. However, it turned out to be fictional; much like Allen Stanford’s money. Can you promise me the GBBMM is genuine?

    • The GBBMM is surprisingly expensive but I am ready to do a deal Mr Clarke so if you let me land at Lords in my helicopter, I am ready to sign on the dotted line. The Scrotometer can also be included in the deal but we have yet to find anyone to validate the system through a manual check of the jockstraps.


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