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Be it technology or people using it – DRS is becoming a pain for ICC

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature 23 Jul 2013, 20:48 IST
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England v Australia: 2nd Investec Ashes Test - Day Four

The Decision Review System, DRS, has been in discussion over the last few weeks due to the decision slip-ups that the umpires have been making in the Ashes series. It’s just not been within the English and Australian cricket fraternity and fans, but it’s been nit-picked by cricket lovers from across the world. Indian cricket and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been backed by a huge crowd for opposing the DRS until proved to be fit for purpose.

India is the only Test playing country who has taken this stand and mind you, they are a great deal of influence in many ICC decisions. The ICC CEO Dave Richardson believes that if Anil Kumble, chairman of ICC’s Cricket Committee can be convinced, he could in turn convince BCCI.

Technology should be adopted but it should not replace the umpires and their decisions, because those two men were the controlling figures on-field. Now, the use of technology, which was brought in by television broadcasters to provide the viewers with an enhanced experience, is taking the charm out of those calls made by these umpires. The game has seen bad decisions ever since this game became popular but the TV replays from various angles, Snicko, Hawk Eye and Hotspot are making it obvious to the viewers today.

The DRS has been used for a long time in Cricket. In the beginning, only the on-field umpire could refer a situation to the third umpire and he would then use the technology to declare a batsman out or not out. In the new form of DRS system, player’s can review the decisions of on- field umpires. There can be up to 2 unsuccessful reviews in an innings of a Test match and one per innings in the shorter forms.

Having taken these technology glitches, is it fair to rule out any human errs in using DRS? ICC’s elite umpiring panel is dominated by English and Aussie umpires. The pressure is immense on the other members, Aleem Dar, Marais Erasmus, Kumar Dharmasena and Tony Hill when these two countries are playing each other as they will have to stand in back to back matches.

The Ashes is difficult this year due to the heat wave in England as well. Unlike the players who rest while their team mates have their batting gloves on, the umpires are on the field throughout the match. Let’s accept that they are humans and can make mistakes.

India and BCCI’s stand against DRS is acceptable. The umpires should be given the power of making the decisions in the game and given the option of checking with the third umpire only when they are in doubt. However, the third umpire can himself overturn a decision that he feels has gone wrong. But he has to display the frames which prove the on-field decision wrong and with the umpires who are watching it on the display screen before overturning a decision.

There should also be three reviews provided to the team officials and captain, not players, who are closely following the game on visual aids. The team can send an alert to the third umpire who can stop the game and review it. But the team should provide the third umpire with a valid video or audio artefact to support their claim almost instantly.

This would be a great deal of support to the ICC’s attempt to enhance DRS technologies as each team would come out with better technologies to prove their claim and the best of these can be used by ICC in future. On the contrary, the onus goes to the teams as well to have the best technologies to get a decision in their favour.

The umpires will be less targeted and they would still retain the power of judgement. There will also be more than one person involved in the review and thus would be more effective and credible. ICC still has a big challenge ahead of them in terms of DRS and one wishes them luck for the sake of cricket.

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