Cook will need to alter nature's gift

India, July 14 -- Captaincy debates and umpiring controversies are never far from the surface in a cricket match and the Test at Trent Bridge has been no exception.

While debutant Ashton Agar was stunning England and amazing the cricket world with his array of shots and nerveless temperament, Alistair Cook was paralysed by indecision. There was a look of panic on his face during the remarkable, record-breaking partnership between Agar and Phillip Hughes that belied the term "being in charge".

As a result of Cook's indecision, he waited for the Australians to commit cricketing suicide and, instead, they batted with bravery and brains.

Staying calm

That ability as a captain, to appear calm no matter how dire the situation, sends a wave of confidence through the fielding side and tells the batting side nothing. Cook has displayed a remarkable ability to adapt as a batsman; he's gone from being a potential liability prior to the 2010-11 Ashes series, to a wicket Australia covet. Now he has to display that same ability to adapt as a captain but this time it'll be more difficult; his batting needed a simple alteration in technique, the captaincy will require an adjustment to his temperament.

It's always difficult to drastically alter what is nature's gift.

Cook's other problem is having to adapt mid-series. The amazing turnaround contrived by Agar and Hughes, not only saved the series for Australia, it's given the team inspiration for the remainder of the series.

Captaincy could play a crucial role if this series remains tight and Michael Clarke is tactically superior to Cook.

The other major influence on the first Test has been the umpiring. The main controversy has been around the DRS and its failings have emphasised flaws the ICC should've addressed long ago.

Firstly, the Jonathan Trott lbw referral highlighted the absurd decision to allow the host broadcasters to play a part in the DRS. In Trott's case the operator was utilising Hot Spot for something else when suddenly the technology was required for a referral.

The DRS should always be the sole responsibility of the cricket boards; they should pay for and operate everything that's required for the decision-making process. Adjudication has nothing to do with the television coverage which is there to provide entertainment for the viewers. Hopefully, this latest malfunction will convince the cricket boards to take charge of the DRS and that way every Test will then be played under the same conditions.

Then, there's the Stuart Broad controversy over a disputed catch. Firstly, there's the irony in Australia's cause being hurt by an opponent not walking. More important is the principle of getting the right decision, which is something the ICC has constantly spruiked as one of the attributes of the DRS. In many cases it's done exactly the opposite.

Instead of putting a limit on the number of referrals available and leaving them in the hands of the players, the DRS should be solely at the discretion of the umpires. The arbiters in the middle should be encouraged to make decisions and then only if the video umpire sees a glaring error, will he intervene.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.

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