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The DRS conundrum: Is the BCCI right about the DRS after all?

Jayesh Sinha
1.11K   //    17 Feb 2016, 20:34 IST
The DRS, that is supposed to eradicate the howlers, has several howlers imbibed within itself

The one-word answer seemingly is- yes.

There is no doubt DRS ticks plenty of boxes but given where a review system in cricket has the potential to be, the DRS is presently languishing.

The point is not that there should be no reviews, and wrong decisions should be allowed to stand. In principle, no one wants wrong decisions to be there, and of course, there should be an option to have those wrong decisions overturned after reviews.

However, the system that ICC has implemented for those reviews is alarmingly flawed. It’s as if the ICC is afraid of getting decisions too right, and wants there to be a room for error in place. Why?

Take the example of the recent Adam Voges no-ball incident against New Zealand in the first Test of the ongoing series. Adam Voges had just walked into bat, and was on 7 when he misjudged the line of a delivery from Doug Bracewell and opted to leave the ball.

The ball nipped back in to take the top of off stump. As far as bowling goes, it was just the perfect delivery. It was the delivery every coach at every level has told every seam bowler to strive for.

Bracewell had bowled that perfect delivery and had got the desired result too, but the umpire, Richard Illingworth, deemed it a no ball. Replays showed, however, that it was not a no-ball, and that Bracewell had bowled a perfectly legal delivery, as some part of his landing foot was definitely behind the line.

Sadly, there was no recourse available to New Zealand to have the mess sorted out. Everyone now knew that the umpire had been wrong, including the umpire himself, but there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Adam Voges Doug Bracewell
Umpire Richard Illingworth wrongly called the delivery that had dismissed Adam Voges when he was batting on 7, a no-ball. Voges then went on to score another 232 runs.

That's how shockingly limited the scope of review under the DRS system is. There will be those who will come up with the cliched and frankly by now stale response of – but the technology didn’t fail, it's the humans.

It doesn’t matter. The point is, that right now under DRS, there is no provision for such errors to be corrected. Regardless of whether it was a human error or a mechanical error, under the present review system, the wrong decision stood.

That's how alarmingly limited the DRS can be. This is what the BCCI mean when they say this review system (DRS) is not comprehensive enough to be used. Their objection is not against reviewing and correcting wrong decisions, but against the limited system presently in place for doing so.

In light of the Voges decision where there is a lot of room for arguments, the present review system is just glaringly limited in its scope.

What is even more alarming is that the ICC is unwilling to learn any lesson and are not keen on pro-actively removing this limitation that presented itself. If anything, the stand of the ICC is just the opposite of what it should be.

Shortly after the Adam Voges ‘no ball that wasn’t a no ball’ incident, far from learning from the mistake, the ICC hurriedly issued a statement that reviews will continue to be unavailable for no ball decisions.

It's a case that brilliantly illustrates the closed mindset that ICC has towards reviews. Far from fixing the system once a clear error has occurred, or at least, a glaring lacuna has presented itself, the ICC cannot wait to announce status quo on the issue.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? It's a Latin saying which means who will guard the guards. The DRS is in place to help guard against wrong umpiring decisions, but when DRS itself is shown to be limited in scope, who is there guarding and fixing that?

The answer is no one, and at the very least, definitely not the ICC. This no ball incident is not the first time DRS has been called into question.

DRS has been called into question many times, both in regard to the Hot Spot and the ball-tracking mechanism. However, each time, far from helping achieve any clarity on the issue, ICC has been happy to play the ostrich and bury its head in the sand.

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Jayesh Sinha
A sports enthusiast and author of the book Greatest Sports Rivalries.
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