The Decision Review System in Test cricket
Its been almost a decade since the DRS has been implemented in test cricket. Has it done its job? The answer is both yes and no.
Consider this, a batsman in prime form gets a thick inside edge onto his pads and is given out. Many a time, this decision can occur at a crucial juncture in a match. Such decisions typically have a huge bearing on the result. The DRS was implemented for exactly this reason, to reduce howlers.
Technology has come a long way today and if it can be used to improve decisions, it certainly should be implemented. Football today has the VAR and Tennis also has the challenge system. DRS in cricket has been a great step forward for the game. It certainly has reduced the umpiring errors. But is there a way to implement it in a better way? Certainly, yes.
Earlier on, when an LBW decision was referred using the DRS, if the decision was umpire’s call upon the ball hitting the stumps and the umpire had originally given not out, the review was lost by the team. The ICC, has already amended the same and now, for the same situation mentioned above, the review would be retained by the team. This was a welcome change.
Each team has two reviews for a period of 80 overs, post which they would get their unsuccessful reviews reinstated. Just two reviews in 80 overs, means that the teams have to be very careful in using their reviews. If they are not, they could end up losing both their reviews at an early stage and when they really need it, they could be left empt handed.
This is quite ironical, considering that the DRS has been implemented to remove howlers, and there could be a situation wherein a particular decision was horrendous, but cannot be overturned due to the lack of reviews.
The solution to this, could probably be reducing the cap to reinstate the reviews. Instead of the current 80 overs, it could for instance be 20 overs. There is another school of thought which states that there shouldn’t be a cap on reviews.
The risk here is that there is a likelihood that every decision could be reviewed and in today’s times, where a team barely manages to bowl 90 overs a day, a continuous reviewing of decisions could take up a lot of time and result in even lesser overs being bowled.
When one looks at Tennis and the challenge system, each player receives three challenges at the start of the match and when they go into a tie breaker in any set, they receive an extra challenge. This means that the players can be more aggressive in their challenges and need not be conservative and worry about using up their challenges.
The ICC could definitely work on something similar, to give the players enough confidence to take up a review and not worry about using it up all and exhausting it.
DRS has been a great revolution for the game, and it is important now, that the ICC ensures that if anything can be done to make the implementation of this technology better, it must. At the end of the day, the main objective of the DRS is to reduce howlers. It should not be about the teams picking and choosing the decisions which they think have to be reviewed.
After all, it is quite possible that a team chooses not to review a decision which could have been in their favour had they used the DRS, only because of the fact that they fear using up all their reviews. In such situations, the right decision is not made even though, technology is available. The DRS is certainly here to stay, it now is only a matter of effective implementation.