The game has been evolving, for after all, change is inevitable they say. From the protection gears to the hawk-eye or the hotspot, the game is witnessing it all. As the revolution of TV swept the world, the lawmakers of the game decided to take aid from it. As a result, the 3rd umpire was born to scrutinize situations or frames that evade the normal human eye like the close calls on a run-out. The feather touch sort of nicks or the close LBW calls have always been a nightmare for the on-field umpires and history has proved that many a time, such faulty decisions can turn a game by its head. Given the Herculean strides made in the field of image processing and other such areas, technology can again lend a helping hand to the game. Here, the UDRS – Umpire Decision Referral System makes its entry.
Hence today, the UDRS is a topic of contention for the different cricket boards with the ICC endorsing it from the word go. On the other hand, the big brother of the game, the BCCI has been taking a pessimistic stand on the same, and has been in a state of denial. The Indian players too have sought to demerit the technology, raising apprehensions about the accuracy of the prediction. The BCCI and the board have for long been at loggerheads when it came to the UDRS, and the ICC has been rooting for its cause ever since the technology made its way to the game. The tech has been implemented in almost all the series except the ones which feature India.
The ICC’s attempt to lure BCCI into the concept has been futile. The BCCI’s claims that the Hawk-eye or the ball tracking technology isn’t full proof, and in-fact the on-field umpires would have a better say on the trajectory of the ball. It has given its nod to the Hot Spot, which means the BCCI seeks an alternative only to the hawk-eye.India has always been in the receiving end of the umpiring errors be it the 2007-08 Sydney test or Sachin’s dubious LBW decision when the ball actually hit his upper arm. Hence, this kindles one’s curiosity on why the BCCI has been thwarting the tech.
Contrary to the usual idiosyncrasies of the BCCI, this stand of the BCCI has some logic behind it. Talking about the Hawk-eye, the makers of the tech, Hawk-eye and Virtual eye differ on their opinion about the technology. While Paul Hawkins of Hawk-eye is in support of the tech being used as a decision making aid, Ian Taylor of Virtual remains circumspect and is in favour of the tech being just a broadcasting aid, paving way to some debate.
The hawk-eye technology works by taking into account the nature of the strip, the overhead conditions, the history of the track and the record of the previous deliveries before chalking out the likely trajectory of the ball if it had gone past the pads. Nothing handier than an example, the WACA, over the years is known to be the bounciest and fastest track, but today it has lost its sheen and has skewed towards the batsman. Same is the case with most of the sub-continent tracks that resemble a chameleon in changing colors. Hence it isn’t the best of the options to go by history and data of the previous delivery. There are several other factors which add to the uncertainty such as the distance between the batsman and the stump, how close the ball pitched from the pads just to name two. This arguably proves that the tech isn’t full proof as termed by the BCCI.
Each side has been provided with just two unsuccessful referrals in order to prevent the questioning of even obvious decisions and thereby decelerating the over rate. This is a very pragmatic move, but on the other hand it is a bit unfair when you get to the thick of things. There is a very thin line between successful and unsuccessful when it comes to these very close calls. Take an inside edge appeal, which requires to be replayed atleast a couple of times for even the III umpire to come to a consensus (at times it is the benefit of doubt that rules the decision), in such cases it is too far fetched for the common human eye and mind. Such cases falling in the category of an unsuccessful reference isn’t fair by any means. Hence the III umpire needs to take a call on whether to dock an appeal or not.
There are often misconceptions that the BCCI has been slamming the concept as it was unfavorable to India when it was first implemented in 2008 in the test series against SL. Things went awry for India then and the most of the referrals were turned down. In the 2011 WC things weren’t any better, as it was a total mess when it came to the 2m theory. It might be a misconception or the detractors may be spot on, but there is a lot of sense prevailing when the board isn’t in favour of the tech. Science wins it hands down and BCCI for once has chosen to endorse a fair view.
The part where the BCCI has faltered is not clearing the air on the issue, and not giving a scientific answer or a technical answer on the issue. The onus should be on science rather than on the politics. The board must make a resolve and encourage the betterment of such technologies rather than choosing to flex its muscle and bully the other boards on the issue. If the errors are tweaked, the UDRS would go a long way, as the TV replays did in eradicating the human flaws involved in the game.
Change is the only change that hasn’t changed over the years.