It happened once again in the recent India-Pakistan cricket encounter at Chennai. Something, which at least a billion optimistic Indian team fans believe, cost India the match – an umpiring/human error. And not just one, but two of them. If not entirely talking about how the result could have swung from one side to the other due the errors made by the field umpire – who are after all humans too – the moot question remains why not use the technology and get 95% accuracy, and question the reason why BCCI is reluctant to use it in the decisions and bring fairness in the game instead of negative 100%?
I say, if one is doubting the credibility of DRS, then one should also not forget that the third umpire’s decision on the run-out referrals isn’t 100% correct sometimes, with the number of frames-per-second coming into question and the decision going in the batsman’s favour in the garb of ‘benefit of doubt going to the batsman’, when the slow motion angle shows it was very tight and could easily go the other way if the technology deployed was better.
But the system is still being used and has been in use since even before Rahul Dravid made his debut in international cricket and it has had a complaint-free run. That, at least, gives a fair chance to the batting and the fielding team, a relief and an ease to the field umpires, a satisfaction to the fans, and more importantly, keeps the spirit of cricket alive. So why not use such a technology? The funny part is that BCCI keeps registering complaints with ICC against a few umpires of ‘elite’ quality, time and again, and has not even failed to allege umpires of favouritism to opponent teams.
Team line-up is being changed too often to provide sufficient matches to good players like Ravindra Jadeja and Rohit Sharma. The latter was left double-carting in air during the England tour when two decisions in two different matches went against him and the slow motion camera suggested something else. India not only lost the match but questions were also put on Sharma’s credibility as a batsman. Coach Duncan Fletcher’s contract hasn’t been renewed either. And this is all because of the match results. Who knows what the situation would have been had the decisions went the right way.
A recipient to answering this plight is ICC also, who have not made DRS (Decision Review System) mandatory in the structure and have instead kept it optional for teams to accept. Why? This reminds me of the super-sub formula which was introduced in 2005 and was also made compulsory for the teams to follow before proper experimentation tarnished the image of a player from a cricketer to a bowler or a batsman. There were also issues of him not picked in the eleven depending on the result of the toss. In simple words, it was a virtual insult to a cricketer who was being substituted, but all-rounders emerged only naturally which was the ultimate focus of this rule.
Another example is the mandatory ball change in the 33rd over in the ODIs which is meant to increase the visibility of the ball to the batsman, especially in the sub-continent conditions where the hard outfield causes the ball to grow old faster. The rule caused an undue advantage to the batting team in the grounds outside the sub-continent. The average team scores have risen since then, the bowler’s value has deteriorated and most importantly, the magic of reverse swing is less likely to be seen. The slog over battle isn’t a battle of the equals any more. The protagonists of the game are different these days.
Is it due to too much pushing by the ICC towards making the game more popular and spreading around the world too quickly – meanwhile losing sight of the basics in the run – that is causing these changes? Or does DRS increase the game time and hamper concentration of the players? But this variable cost should not be more than the value of a correct decision. Or, is it the moolah which is doing all the talking? As the acceptance of the two rules above and the semi-acceptance of the DRS has found the highest revenue generator for ICC, the BCCI, in agreement with all. But why would BCCI not want technology even after it has not gone their way since then?
Whatever maybe the reason, but the careers of a few have definitely got affected due to DRS’ absence and the game might lose its charm too.