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Abolish ‘umpire's call’, says Ben Stokes after Zak Crawley DRS incident

Zak Crawley given out
Zak Crawley was given out in England's second innings despite this Hawk-Eye replay suggesting that the ball would have missed the stumps

England captain Ben Stokes called for the abolition of “umpire’s call” in the decision review system after his team fell to a humiliating 434-run defeat in the third Test against India.

Stokes’ side collapsed to 122 all out to record their heaviest defeat by runs since World War Two and their second heaviest ever after Yashasvi Jaiswal smacked a second double-century in as many Tests.

The chastening loss leaves England 2-1 down and with a mountain to climb with two to Tests to play having made a commanding start to the series by winning the opener in Hyderabad.

For the second time in as many Tests after defeat, Stokes took aim at the technology used to decide if a batsman is out. He and England coach Brendon McCullum were seen in animated conversation with the International Cricket Council’s match referee, New Zealander Jeff Crowe, at the conclusion of the game.

Stokes revealed they were questioning Zak Crawley’s marginal leg-before dismissal to Jasprit Bumrah, because a projection had been shown on TV coverage with the ball appearing to miss the stumps.

After England lost by 106 runs in Visakhapatnam, Stokes questioned the technology for another Crawley LBW, that time to Kuldeep Yadav.

While he did not blame the officials’ decisions and technology for England’s thumping defeat, Stokes did call for the removal of umpire’s call, which is in place due to the predictive – and therefore not infallible – nature of the ball-tracking technology. Umpire’s call also helps keep human judgement involved in the decision-making process.

“We just wanted some clarity around Zak’s DRS when the images came back,” said Stokes. “The ball is quite clearly missing the stump on the replay. So when it gets given umpire’s call and the ball’s not actually hitting the stumps, we were a bit bemused. We just wanted some clarity from Hawk-Eye. It came back saying the numbers were saying that it was hitting the stumps but it was the projection that was wrong. I don’t know what that means. Something’s gone wrong.

“I think when [the] people in charge of it say something has gone wrong that is enough in itself.

“We’ve been on the wrong end of three umpire’s calls this game and that is part of DRS. You’re either on the right side or the wrong side. Unfortunately we’ve been on the wrong side. I’m not saying and never will say that’s the reason why we’ve lost this game, because 500 is a lot of runs.

“You just want something that is consistent, so when the people that use the system are saying something that has gone wrong, whatever it is, who’s to say it’s not gone wrong at another time that could prove pivotal? Umpire’s call, personally I think we should just get rid of it. If it’s hitting the stumps, it’s hitting the stumps, then it’s a level playing field.

“It’s not me blaming that on what’s happened here, like I didn’t last week. It’s just… what’s going on?”

England speaking to Jeff Crowe
England sought answers from Jeff Crowe, the match referee - GETTY IMAGES/Gareth Copley

‘We still have a great chance’

Stokes said England’s defeat “hurt” but said he remained hopeful they could win the series.

“Losing a Test match always hurts, you don’t want to be on the losing end. You don’t want to be bowled out for that total when you’re chasing,” said Stokes.

“Writing it off wouldn’t do justice to the professionalism of the players in the dressing room. You’ve got to learn from disappointment but use it in a positive way, not let it eat you. I’ve played 100 Test matches now and I know that thinking too deep into certain things can send you on a downhill spiral. It’s about what we do the next two games.

“It doesn’t always work out how you want, but we still have a great chance to win the trophy 3-2.

“We leave this game behind us, just as we did with the first two matches, and we know we have to win the next two games to take the series.”

England, and especially Joe Root, have come in for fierce criticism for their third day batting in Rajkot, but Stokes did not question the attacking approach, only the “execution”.

“Everyone has a perception and an opinion about things but the opinions of the people in the dressing room are the only one that matters to us,” the England captain continued.

“We know that things don’t always work out how you want them to.

“Ben Duckett [who made 153] played an unbelievable first innings and that was the tone we wanted to set throughout and it was about identifying that opportunity to push the scoreboard on and get as close as we could do to India’s total.

“I wanted us to be bowling yesterday, even though it came earlier than we expected, because of how we felt the wicket was going. We wanted to push the game on as much as we possibly could, but sometimes gameplans don’t work out and that is sport sometimes.”

The series resumes in Ranchi on Friday.

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