DRS set for busy baptism on India's turning pitches
By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) - After years of resistance against the Decision Review System, the Indian cricket board has finally agreed to employ technology for the home tests against England and if the tourists' series in Bangladesh is anything to go by, it will get plenty of use.
In the opening match on a turning Chittagong track, Kumar Dharmasena witnessed 16 challenges to his decisions and after eight of them were overturned, the Sri Lankan had earned an unwanted record of the most reversed decisions in a single test.
Following that match last month, which saw a record 26 reviews in total, opinions were divided on whether DRS had improved decision-making and the impact it had on the morale of umpires, especially on the spin-friendly pitches in South Asia.
Ahead of the system's debut in a test in India next week, the International Cricket Council (ICC) said referrals were always more likely on spinning tracks and that was why the review system was an essential tool for umpires.
Geoff Allardice, the ICC general manager for cricket operations at the governing body, is a strong advocate for DRS, saying the system ensured more consistency in decision-making.
"Generally in DRS series, we deliver 97 to 98 percent correct decisions," Allardice told reporters on a conference call.
"What that does is provide a consistency of correct decisions, whether the conditions are difficult for umpiring, or whether the umpire is having a good day or a bad day.
"With regards to the series in Bangladesh and the impact on the umpires, often DRS delivers its best result when the pitch is turning or seaming and umpiring is difficult.
"It's quite a test for an umpire, because you can often be making good decisions that are later proven to be incorrect, you know, through getting a glove on a sweep shot that then lends to an lbw being overturned or something like that."
The governing body takes into account the number of wrong decisions made while assessing the umpires, which probably puts them under more pressure.
Allardice said while umpires always preferred getting as many decisions right as they could, they were very supportive of DRS and their reaction to the immediate feedback provided by the technology was crucial for the job.
"Being able to process feedback about your decisions, and then try to either use it to improve your decision-making, or to not let it affect your decision-making, is the thing that determines an elite umpire from the next level down," he added.
"Generally umpires are like players: They have very good matches and they have an odd match where they don't perform up to their normal standards.
"The thing that we are interested in is how they bounce back... if things aren't going their way."
INDIA ON BOARD
The influential Indian board (BCCI) has long been a staunch opponent of the review system, which aims to reduce umpiring howlers by detecting edges and predicting the ball trajectory to ensure correct catch and leg-before wicket (lbw) decisions.
But in a triumph for the ICC, the BCCI said it would use the review system on a trial basis to assess improvements made to the technology after having refused to allow its use in any bilateral series involving its test team in the past.
The BCCI had previously objected to the use of ball-tracking technology, in which a third umpire goes through a number of processes to determine if the on-field officials were correct, saying it was not reliable enough.
It will mean that Dharmasena, who will be an on-field umpire in the opening two tests of the five-match series against England, will continue to remain under scrutiny.
DRS, in its current form, has no uniformity on the use of technology across the globe. While ball-tracking technology is mandatory, sound and heat-based edge detection systems are only used in some countries.
A fixed review system, where the same type of technology is used in every match, is the next goal for the ICC.
"I do look at matches in different parts of the world and I see the different levels of technology," Allardice added.
"You sometimes see umpires left without conclusive evidence in one series, where in another series, they might have that conclusive evidence with more tools available.
"There are some logistical challenges, as well, about having every type of technology at every match but overall, I think we should be striving for a more consistent delivery of technology across all international matches."
(Editing by John O'Brien)