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'Take away umpire's call': Stokes bleats about DRS after India thrash appalling England by record margin

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18th February, 2024
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After several decisions on their Test tour of India that England have regarded as contentious skipper Ben Stokes has called for the umpire’s call element in the decision review system to be abolished.

Zak Crawley was given lbw after being rapped on the pads by Jasprit Bumrah just before tea on day four of the third Test and a review stayed with the umpire’s decision, leaving England 2-18 chasing 557. 

But Stokes argued the ball-tracking image – which predicts what Bumrah’s delivery would have done had it not struck Crawley – was shown to be missing leg stump. 

Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum took up their grievance with match referee Jeff Crowe at the conclusion of England’s 434-run defeat and were informed the decision was correct but the projection was incorrect. 

“I think when people are in charge of it says something has gone wrong that is enough in itself,” Stokes said.

“You just want a level playing field. My opinion is if the ball is hitting the stumps, it is hitting the stumps. They should take away umpire’s call.” 

This is the second successive match in which Crawley has been dismissed in controversial circumstances after DRS surprisingly overturned the on-field ‘not out’ verdict in Visakhapatnam two weeks ago. 

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“We just wanted some clarity around Zak’s DRS,” Stokes said.

“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 crushed in the third Test after they were all out for a meek 122 in the final innings to collapse to their second ever worst Test defeat in terms of runs and heaviest in 90 years.

Yashasvi Jaiswal followed up his 209 in Visakhapatnam last time out with 214 not out in Rajkot as India became the first side to declare against England under the axis of Stokes and Brendon McCullum.

RAJKOT, INDIA - FEBRUARY 18: England batsman Joe Root reacts after been given out lbw to Ravindra Jadeja (not pictured) after a review as captain Ben Stokes (l) looks on during day four of the 3rd Test Match between India and England at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on February 18, 2024 in Rajkot, India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Joe Root reacts after been given out lbw to Ravindra Jadeja. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Jaiswal, who had retired on 104 the previous evening because of a sore back, had recovered sufficiently to equal Pakistan great Wasim Akram’s haul of a dozen sixes in a single innings, also hitting 14 fours.

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After India racked up 4-430 to set a 557 victory target England rolled over. Even with the the last three wickets adding 72 they were skittled in 39.4 overs to lose by a whopping 434 runs.

Hometown hero Ravindra Jadeja took 5-41 as the hosts moved 2-1 up in the five-match series.

It was India’s biggest win by runs, eclipsing the 372 New Zealand were thrashed by in Mumbai in 2021. Only once before have England been beaten by a wider margin – against Australia by 562 runs in a timeless Test in 1934 in which Bill Ponsford made 266.

It was not, though, that close to the Test record, when Australia were caught on a ‘sticky dog’ in 1928, the first Test to be played at Brisbane, also Sir Donald Bradman’s debut, and lost to England by 675 runs.

The roots of this crushing setback in Stokes’ 100th Test lay in England imploding from 2-224 to 319 all out to surrender a first-innings lead of 126, before watching on helplessly as Jaiswal, plus Shubman Gill (91) and Sarfaraz Khan (68 not out) ground them into the dirt.

James Anderson went at six an over in an innings where he has bowled more than 10 balls for the first time since 2006, with Jaiswal and Sarfaraz putting on an unbroken 172 in 158 deliveries as England wilted in the heat.

Ben Duckett had bullishly insisted India “can have as many as they want and we’ll go and get them” the previous evening but the first innings centurion was run out for four after calling Zak Crawley for a single his opening partner felt wasn’t there.

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Crawley (11) also departed before tea on a tight leg-before. Jadeja then ripped the heart out of England’s middle-order dismissing Ollie Pope (3), Jonny Bairstow (4) and Joe Root (7).

A position of 4-50 before Root’s exit became 7-50 after Stokes (15) missed a sweep to Kuldeep Yadav and Rehan Ahmed (0) slapped to long-on. The tail wagged, with Mark Wood’s buccaneering 33 taking England past 100, but it was of little consolation.

Stokes denied England’s aggressive style was reckless.

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

“Games can be won and loss in the head so we will be leaving all the disappointment and emotion from this week and moving on to the next one.

“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.

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“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.”

Stokes hinted he could bowl in the final two Tests having previously said he would stick to batting following an operation on his left knee last November.

“I feel really good and I managed to get my first ball down at 100 per cent on day one or day two here,” he said.

“I like to jump the gun a bit too much. Things are feeling really good but I have a whole body to get back bowling again. I am not saying ‘no’ but I am not saying yes either.”

© AAP

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