I remember when the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS or DRS as it’s more commonly known) was introduced to cricket back in November 2009; I was very excited at the prospect of seeing cricket decisions getting rectified in the correct manner. Has the DRS helped cricket in making the right calls? No, not in my view. Though, not a failure it has not been a scorching success it should have been. There are a few reasons behind this and the faults are in the hands of the International Cricket Council (ICC), the umpires, the cricket boards and captain and players alike.
If we solely focus on the present Pakistan V England series, there has been so many DRS errors, I have lost count. The players have taken some absolutely diabolical reviews; some were not even remotely close. The players need to realise, that the DRS system was introduced to rectify the blunders, not for them to review as and when. This was one reason, why the ODI’s quota of reviews available to each team reduced, to stop the useless time wasting. Captains and players alike need to be more careful on their reviews, though umpires do not help their cause whatsoever.
The umpires at this present time look to me over reliant on the DRS system. If they make an error, they know they won’t be crucified as much because the players have a chance to rectify that error, by using a review. The umpires, are human and prone to errors, though shouldn’t abuse their position of authority and think they are safe as a result of a system like this.
The ICC have had a major role to play in all this. They decided to bring in the DRS and its various aspects. Firstly, the Hot-spot is not 100% reliable. Apart from costing a large amount of money; in severe heat it doesn’t detect the faint nicks. The place that the Hot-Spot is available is limited, so apart from close in fielders blocking the view a long stride or a high bouncer can mean the point of contact (or non contact) is not in the picture. The snicko is a innovation that has not been used, but is a cheaper and more viable option in my opinion. The snicko would detect any sound if a edge was taken, why it has been ignored is most beyond my knowledge. To the ICC’s credit a laser innovation is in the process of getting made, which they claim is more reliable, but again the cost will be a huge factor.
DRS was innovated mostly for the edges and sorts, but has become a circus for leg before decisions. This is where the Hawk-Eye come’s into effect. Three reds and a batsman is out, one green and his not out. I have no problem with them two aspects, but the third light, the gold one, is a stinker. As I keep emphasising, the DRS was made to eradicate umpire errors, all the umpires call has done is made the umpire look as though he has made the correct call. In the Pakistan, England series we have seen number of decisions that have stayed on the umpires call when they should not have done. Take two identical deliveries, if the umpire says out to one it stays out and not-out to the other that decision also stays. Totally unfair, to say the least. Hawk-Eye is a great innovation, but needs to be used in the correct manner. Below are my recommendations for it, so it is used in eradicating mistakes and not simply trying to justify a umpire‘s decision:
1. Abolish the Umpires call completely and only use ‘out’ and ‘not out’.
2. If the ball is pitching / hitting inline and hitting the stumps by more than 50% of the size of the ball then it is out, otherwise it is not out. Any less than 50% of the ball, means we can’t be 100% sure that it is out.
3. The conversation between the on-field umpire and the third umpire should be made public, like it is in Rugby. This engages the viewers and we are clear on why a decision has been taken.
The Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) has taken a stance of complete non-approval of the DRS system. Though as highlighted, it has it’s flaws, the BCCI are not right in their stance. They have not given it a chance. The hawk-Eye is a must in sub-continent conditions. The bounce is low and the batsman can’t leave the ball on length like they would do in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or England. Batter’s have always looked to pad up and play long innings, the DRS stops this. What is the BCCI’s problem? Maybe knowing it doesn’t suit their batsman it might be. Whatever it is, it’s not good for the game. Neither is a half DRS, for that matter and until some changes are made to the present system, a debate will always arise. The correct decision, in my opinion, is more important than the integrity of a umpire. Once the decisions are made correct, more often, people will naturally start to support the umpires.
The author writes at KheloPakistan