Ben Stokes reopens DRS debate by asking for removal of umpire's call

Captain seeks clarity in system after controversy over Zak Crawley's lbw in third Test against India

England captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum talk to match referee Geoff Crowe after the third Test against India in Rajkot. Getty Images
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England captain Ben Stokes has suggested a change to the Decision Review System (DRS) is required.

Stokes said he wants umpire's call in the review system to be abolished, having been left "bemused" by Zak Crawley's dismissal in the second innings of the third Test against India in Rajkot.

The opener was given out lbw after being struck on the pads by Jasprit Bumrah just before tea on day four on Sunday. The review stayed with the umpire's decision, leaving England 18-2 chasing 557.

The tourists collapsed soon after, bowled out for 122 to suffer their heaviest defeat against India - by 434 runs. However, Stokes said the ball-tracking image projected the ball to be missing and not clipping the leg stump.

Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum took up their grievance with match referee Jeff Crowe after the match and were reportedly informed the projection and decision were correct but the image shown was not.

Stokes called for more a clear-cut implementation of the review system.

"I think when the people in charge of it say something has gone wrong that is enough in itself," Stokes told talkSPORT.

"You just want a level playing field. The umpires have an incredibly hard job as it is, especially in India when the ball is spinning.

"My personal opinion is if the ball is hitting the stumps, it is hitting the stumps. They should take away umpire's call, if I'm being perfectly honest."

"We just wanted some clarity around Zak's DRS when the images came back," Stokes added.

"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.

"I don't want to get too much into it because it sounds like we are moaning and saying that is why we lost the Test match."

England were in a commanding position at 207-2 in just 35 overs by stumps on day two, with star Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin pulling out of the match for personal reasons. The visitors carried genuine hopes of taking a first-innings lead after a sizzling century from Ben Duckett.

But a typical collapse, followed by a superb double ton by Yashasvi Jaiswal saw India post a near impossible target of 557. It proved too much for England, who folded inside 40 overs.

England's new philosophy of attacking at all times irrespective of the match situation has brought them tremendous success over the last season but is beginning to unravel in India.

It has drawn criticism from former England captains. who have called for Stokes' side to temper their aggressive approach.

"This England team are hell bent on doing things their way, and 'saving Test cricket'. They are giving Test cricket a shot in the arm because they are so exciting," Michael Vaughan wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

"But ultimately they have to be better than that now. They didn't win in New Zealand, they didn't win the Ashes, and if they carry on like this, they are going to lose in India. As a team, you are judged on series victories."

Michael Atherton said opener Ben Duckett's "the more the better" comments after the third day regarding a realistic target England could chase down were fanciful.

"One can admire the positivity and playfulness of Ben Duckett and this England team - such were his comments on the third evening - while also questioning their occasional self-delusion," Atherton wrote in The Times.

"Careful husbandry of resources is not the Bazball way. They have been profligate in the extreme in this match, wasting a golden opportunity to build on Duckett's brilliant second-day hundred and to achieve parity or more on first innings.

"They were forced to take some bitter medicine as a consequence on a stifling and totally demoralising fourth day in Rajkot."

In his column for the Daily Mail, Nasser Hussain said England must learn from their mistakes.

"If England don't consider tweaks, Bazball just becomes a cult that can't be questioned," he added. "I am not asking them to alter their mantra, just to review the last couple of matches and ask themselves: 'how can we improve?'"

Updated: February 19, 2024, 8:12 AM