That Is, If The 2005 Ashes Was Played With The DRS? > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - What if the 2005 Ashes had been played with DRS?
As Sliding Doors moments go, there have been few more significant deliveries for English cricket than the one that Michael Kasprowicz gloved through to a tumbling Geraint Jones off Steve Harmison at Edgbaston in the 2005 Ashes.
The dismissal allowed England to clinch the second Test by two runs and level a series that they would famously win 2-1. Without it, it is reasonable to assume that Australia - a team that had last known Ashes defeat some 18-and-a-half years earlier - would have gone 2-0 up with three to play, and would have closed out the series.
But of course, Kasprowicz should not have been given out. The crooked finger of Billy Bowden that pointed Michael Vaughan's England toward their unlikely apogee should have remained in his pocket, for Kasper's hand had come off the handle at the fateful moment when ball brushed glove.
History, being nonlinear, is full of such moments, the beating butterfly wings of Chaos Theory. And it's interesting to ponder an alternative history for English cricket without that redemptive, rollercoaster Ashes victory.
More interesting still, however, is to ponder what might have happened in that series had the DRS been in place. Yes, England lucked out with the Kasprowicz decision. But then, as Shane Warne was dragging Australia back into the game in that third innings, Kevin Pietersen - three knocks into his Test career and a half-century in each - was given out caught behind off his elbow while sweeping at Warne (who he had just popped into the crowd at mid-wicket) from out of the rough. Who knows how many he might have made.
So, is it all swings and roundabouts? A case of: "It all evens itself out over a series"? Let's relive the series in this alternative universe...
1st TEST, LORD'S
After an adrenal opening day, with both sides throwing haymakers at each other, Australia romped away to victory in a game of very few contentious umpiring decisions. The Aussies were on the wrong end of these. Justin Langer was bounced out in the first innings from an Andrew Flintoff no-ball, while Marcus Trescothick escaped a plumb lbw shout off Warne in the second innings while on 31. He added only a further 13 runs.
Matthew Hoggard was then given out lbw when fractionally outside the line to complete his pair, although you'd be hard pressed to argue that a man who finished with a career average of 7.27 would have gone on to overhaul the 239-run margin of defeat.
VERDICT: remains an Australia win
2nd TEST, EDGBASTON
Obviously, one or two in the Australian dressing room would have t-signed Ricky Ponting's decision to bowl first, but thereafter the first innings of both sides passed by without umpiring incident. Then came the Pietersen controversy.
What we failed to mention earlier was that, before being sawn off by Rudi Koetzen, KP gloved his first ball - a quick rib-tickler from Brett Lee - through to Adam Gilchrist. Australia would have reviewed and England would have been 20 runs lighter. Simon Jones was later stone-dead to a Lee full toss, although England only added two more runs, which of course would have made no difference to the outcome. What's that? Oh...
VERDICT: narrow Australia win
3rd TEST, OLD TRAFFORD
With the series now bubbling, and Steve Bucknor stepping into the officiating hotseat, the decisions started to get shakier. England's first innings passed by without contention, while Matthew Hayden was at the centre of the likely DRS moments in Australia's reply. Hit by a full, swinging Hoggard delivery second ball (England would have reviewed but it stayed Umpire's Call) he was then given out lbw to Ashley Giles when struck outside the line. He had 34 off 71 balls at the time, but was having a scratchy series, so would probably have been taken care of by the reverse-swinging ball later. Worth another, say, 20 runs, and some time out of the game.
Little of note happened in the third-innings set-up: Andrew Strauss, already a centurion, might have been given a stay of execution as Damien Martyn dived forward to catch him in the deep, although since England went on to declare this had negligible bearing on the outcome.
Then the fourth innings happened.
Langer should have been given out lbw to Vaughan on the fourth evening, when the latter was forced to use spin at both ends because of the light, although he only faced another eight deliveries. Then Martyn got a thick inside edge to a Harmison delivery, but was fired off by Bucknor, much to his and Ponting's evident disappointment (in a perfect expression of the frustrations of the era, Geoffrey Boycott, on commentary, said: "Ricky Ponting's had a word with the umpire. I don't think it's going to make any difference"). Australia would have overturned this on review, and 'Marto' would have delayed England's victory push.
The rest of the innings was a tale of decisions reviewed and lost: Jason Gillespie's lbw to Hoggard and three appeals from England rejected and reviewed: two against Ponting and, with 10 balls left and two more reviews added at 80 overs, Brett Lee was a cigarette paper outside the line to a Flintoff inswinger. Imagine the tension as this was being looked over!
VERDICT: game remains a draw
4th TEST, TRENT BRIDGE
In a DRS universe, England would have arrived at Trent Bridge with the Ashes once again gone, but still hoping to draw the series after two strong if ultimately unsuccessful performances in Birmingham and Manchester.
Their first innings would have seen both sides burn a review - Australia when they thought Geraint Jones had nicked off (he hit the ground) and England would have looked at Flintoff's lbw off Shaun Tait - but things would have warmed up in the Australians' reply.
Almost certainly, both Hayden and Ponting would have reviewed their lbw verdicts: 'Haydos' because he was in a trot and Langer's elite empathy would surely have advised him to have a look at the Hoggard inswinger that thudded into his front pad, and 'Punter' because he was shaking his head, perhaps thinking he had got a thin edge to Simon Jones. All of which meant that when Martyn got an enormous inside edge off Hoggard and Aleem Dar raised the finger, there would have been no reviews left.
Following on, Australia were on the receiving end of a couple more rough calls. Both Gilchrist (11 off 11) and Simon Katich (59 off 183) were given out lbw to balls pitching outside leg, the latter's dissent costing him 50% of his match fee. 'Gilly' was also in a trot, but may have blazed another 20 or so before Flintoff or Jones would have seen him off, while 'Kato' had barnacled himself to the ship's hull and may well have been an hour or more in the removing. All of which, you imagine, would have meant at least another 50 runs to the Australian total.
England, of course, knocked off seven down late on the fourth day, so with time not a factor, those extra Australian runs would almost certainly have proven crucial.
VERDICT: narrow Australia win
5th TEST, THE OVAL
In this alternative DRS universe, England arrived at the Oval being commended for their part in three epic Test matches but pilloried by that part of the British press whose emotionally-underpinned sense of identity is vicariously conditioned by the national team's results in the three major team sports. Doom and gloom abounds, then.
In the real game, England, having won the toss and batted, got a couple of rough lbw decisions: Collingwood (7 from 26) was hit on the boot by a Tait reverse-swinger, which DRS says was miles outside the line, while Giles (32 off 70) was fired off by Koertzen despite the Warne leggie comfortably missing off stump (Warne's laugh-appeal had doubtless conned the melodramatic South African). Our algorithms say this is around 40 runs or so lost.
Koetzen then failed to give Langer lbw to Giles when he was on 66 (he made 105), which DRS would have overturned and thus given England a much healthier first innings lead than the six runs they ended up with (largely because Australia stayed out in bad light, it should be noted, obliged to take the game on).
All of which meant that England's last-day, KP-inspired rearguard would have been an effort to set up a declaration and force a result, another in the long line of dead-rubber consolations on which the country was obliged to feed itself.
Australia would likely have burned reviews on a savage Warne leggie to Trescothick and KP's almost-gloved hat-trick ball scare off Glenn McGrath before Vaughan called them in, setting the Aussies around 260 off 52 overs. And who knows how that would have panned out. With bad light around, would the Aussies, urn in the pocket, have stayed out for the crowds or got back to the rooms for a sing-song?
VERDICT: game remains a draw.
And there we have it: in a DRS universe, Australia would have won the Ashes 3-0. There would have been no photos of Flintoff and Pietersen staggering blootered out of 10 Downing Street, no Trafalgar Square revelry with a delirious public, no wave of euphoria sweeping the land, and only a skeletal hope that they could win in 2009 or 2010-11.
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