- The Ashes 2013
Flower: DRS 'hasn't worked well'
Andy Flower, the England team director, admitted the Decision Review System "hasn't worked well at all" in the Investec Ashes series, but does not favour a return to the days when umpires did not have access to technology.
The series has been notable for a series of controversial umpiring decisions, most of them involving the TV umpire. Hot Spot, the technology that is meant to clarify whether a batsman has edged a ball, has been exposed as flawed and raised doubts about its medium-term viability, leaving players and umpires confused and frustrated following a catalogue of mistakes.
But Flower, a consistent advocate of the DRS, does not favour abandoning the system now. Instead he favours ensuring that TV umpires are equipped with the best possible technology available and, if necessary, the assistants to enable them to utilise it to the optimum. Flower is adamant that a return to the days when TV viewers had access to more evidence than umpires would be a retrograde step and maintains the system, generally, helps get more decisions right than the days before it was introduced.
And, though the words may have been characteristically measured, Flower also hinted that the underlying fault in the system during the current series was human error on the part of the TV umpires. But he rejected the idea that the TV umpire should be a technology specialist, instead reiterating the view that they should first have proved themselves as an experienced on-field official.
"I thought the DRS had worked pretty well in international cricket prior to this series," Flower said as he reflected on England retaining the Ashes following the soggy draw at Old Trafford. "But in this series it hasn't worked well at all. I wouldn't necessarily blame technology. What we have at the moment is the best we've got. I might question whether we're using it as wisely as we can. I think we, the cricket community, can use it better.
"There is technology there to use and there are protocols that go with it. I think the people in charge of using the technology have to make very calm, clear decisions.
"I think we also know and understand that going back to using just the two umpires in the middle is not the answer because that isn't going to get us a greater percentage of correct decisions. Just being smart about how we use the technology - where the third umpire sits, who he sits with, is he sitting with experts in technology so that he sees the best pictures and can run forwards and backwards the various screens and the pertinent screens - those are the things that the ICC need to get right.
"I think the person sitting as the third umpire has to be an experienced on-field umpire to understand what is going on in the middle."
Flower also welcomed the contribution of Kevin Pietersen in Manchester. Exactly a year on from the debacle at Leeds where Pietersen's relationship with his team-mates reached an all-time low, he produced a century that helped England avoid the follow-on and therefore played a large role in securing the draw.
But while Flower delighted in Pietersen's positive impact on and off the pitch, he did admit to fears over the batsmen's long-term availability due to injury concerns. At present, it seems neither player nor team are looking further than the Ashes series in Australia.
"He's been excellent," Flower said. "Unfortunately he's had a couple of injuries, but he's been very dedicated in the way he's responded to getting those right and it's great to see him bat like he did not only here but when he got a really important 60 in the context of that game at Trent Bridge.
"It's been another vital innings here, so it's great to see him bat like that. He's a very entertaining guy to watch and a brilliant international batsman. It's great that he's fit and firing.
"He'll have to look after himself as well as possible because he's in his early 30s now and, from experience and talking to guys who have played at that age, everything seems to hurt a little bit more after long days in the field and after big innings. He wants to play in the World Cup of 2015, but I don't think any of us can determine what happens in the medium to long-term. He, like all the others, will be desperate to do well in the rest of this series and looking forward to the Ashes away and not looking miles beyond that.
"We do try to look after the players that play all three forms of the game in as wise a way as possible. Kevin's one of those guys so we do take him out of certain competitions when it's necessary, just like we do with Jimmy Anderson and might do with Alastair Cook in the future."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo