Meg Lanning and Heather Knight with the Women's Ashes Trophy. ©Getty Images
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England had been reduced to 19 for 4 in the sixth over of the first ODI of the Ashes series at Grace Road in Leicester on Tuesday (July 2) when Fran Wilson joined Natalie Sciver in the middle. The pair looked solid in their attempt to rebuild the innings— finding ways to rotate the strike, and making sure to punish the loose deliveries. They guided England to 44 for 4 in 10 overs before a controversial decision dented the home team’s progress.

Jess Jonassen, the left-arm spinner, was introduced into the attack and she struck immediately, removing Wilson for a 21-ball 15. Wilson, who missed the ball attempting a sweep was quickly adjudged lbw by Martin Saggers, the umpire, after a stifled appeal from Australia. As she trudged back to the pavilion, the right-hander was clearly unhappy with the decision, repeatedly pointing to her glove. Replays indicated the ball had cannoned into her glove, not making contact with any part of her pad.

The decision obviously didn’t go down well with England, and calls for the regular use of Decision Review System in women’s cricket became louder.

“You always want the best as players, and DRS is the best,” said Heather Knight after England’s narrow defeat. “I’d imagine the reason, as usual in women’s cricket, is money, as to why we don’t have it. I think potentially not having it affects the spectacle of the game. Sometimes decisions go your way and it’s obviously the same for both sides but in an ideal world we would have DRS.”

This incident comes shortly after Mithali Raj, India’s ODI captain, called for more consistent use of the technology in women’s internationals during India’s home series against England.

DRS was officially launched by the International Cricket Council in 2009. Since then, it has undergone several changes and is now regularly used around the world. DRS first made its appearance in a women’s cricket tournament in 2017 in the ICC Women’s World Cup in England. The technology was only used for 10 matches that were televised. In the 2018 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, all 23 matches had DRS available.

While the technology is mandatorily made available for global events, bilateral series require the two participating boards to decide whether to use it or not. This opportunity is almost always extended to the men’s games, but not so for the women.

After the first ODI, both teams have appealed to their governing bodies— England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia— to reconsider their decision and have DRS made available for the remainder of the series.

“I think, why wouldn’t we have it?” said Alyssa Healy. “Especially as it’s a televised game, there is a real opportunity to have it. So I’d like to see it in our game. It’s obviously going to take the howler out of the situation. There were a couple of ours that we could have reviewed as well. I’d love to see it.”

Matthew Mott, Australia’s head coach, echoed Healy’s views. “I must admit that if you’ve got the technology there and you have enough cameras then it should come in. It certainly makes sense for me to have it if we can. I don’t know the rationale behind not having it. In big matches like this there is plenty at stake, so yes, I would love to see it used in them.”

Having fallen short on Tuesday, England will be keen to put this disappointment behind them to try to level the series in the second ODI in Leicester on Thursday (July 4).

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