India Vs. DRS Vs. World
Four years of wait and finally BCCI has softened its stand on the popular Umpire’s Decision Review System (DRS) as they used the system in the first test of the five-Test series against visitors England. This has also marked the debut of the much-debated DRS in the Indian subcontinent. Although India have previously played under DRS away from home (in England and Sri Lanka), this is the first time India have played under the system at home, if one leaves aside ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
The reason behind giving the green signal to DRS might be the numerous high-profile umpiring errors during India’s recent home series against New Zealand, which has have helped change minds of senior BCCI officials. It is also noted that Virat Kohli, following the retirement of Sachin Tendulkar, has publicly stated his openness to adopting DRS.
The influential Indian board (BCCI) has long been a staunch opponent of the review system, which aims at reducing umpiring howlers by detecting edges and predicting the ball trajectory to ensure correct catch and leg-before wicket decisions. 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 umpires were correct, saying it was not reliable enough. The debate, which has degenerated to India vs the world and BCCI’s my way or the highway approach and the dull response from some of the other countries, threatens to stand in the way of a reasonable discussion about the genuine issues regarding the DRS in its current form. But, the BCCI decides it would use the review system on a trial basis to experiment improvements made to the technology after having refused to allow its use in any bilateral series involving its Test team in the past. The change comes after a detailed and successful presentation by ICC DRS representatives on the improved version of the system, backed by ICC chairman Shashank Manohar and Indian coach Anil Kumble.
“Actually telling the truth, BCCI was never against DRS, right from my earlier tenure (as BCCI chief. Only issue was with lbw being decided by DRS. For everything else, we accepted, but ICC told us that either we accept it in full or not. We are not even willing to accept it for lbw,”
-Shashank Manohar Chairman, ICC
“Our only issue is whether a technology which is not 100 per cent foolproof, shall we agree that error of judgment is equal with standing umpire and with the technology available? So that is the call we have to take.”
-Anurag Thakur, Chairman, BCCI
“Those are the things I can’t say yes or no to sitting here, but these are the things we have discussed. These are things we have had meetings on. We will certainly look to probably introduce it in future.”
-Virat Kohli, Indian Test Captain
-Mike Atherton, Former England Captain
-Misbah ul Haq, Pakistan Test Captain
-Ricky Ponting, Former Australian Captain
Former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, who was a part of the Indian team, which played the first series in which the DRS was used, against Sri Lanka in 2008, where the Indian team had expressed its lack of confidence in the technology to the BCCI, said, “At the time we were not convinced by the camera angles in use. We were not convinced that they were right. There was so much negativity around it that we didn’t think it worked.” But now being President of Bengal Cricket Association, he contradicts himself by saying : “Hopefully there’s much more consistency around it now.” “Would I have liked to have played under the DRS? It’s hard to say now, but you accept technology and you get used to it and players will get better using it as they go along.”
The CEO of ICC and former South African wicketkeeper Dave Richardson said: “Television, ball-tracking and edge-detection technologies have developed and improved significantly since the DRS was first introduced. New technologies are being developed all the time. One concern about DRS, particularly from the players’ and umpires’ perspectives, is that the various technologies used for DRS in different series are not standardised. Our long-term aim is to have one officiating system used across all international matches.”
There are other issues, ones that concern the tools being used for the system. — the handling of ball tracking technology, Hot Spot technology, Hawk eye technology. The BCCI remains unconvinced. Why the BCCI is remain unconvinced was not clear, just like it was not clear how every now and then a projection looks improbable, or how it is perfect at 2.4 metres but unreliable at 2.5. Similarly, the ball tracking technology failed to note the deflection of ball and joined the dots directly. Hawk-Eye uses six high speed cameras that capture 340 frames per second to track and predict the trajectory of the cricket ball in flight.
Hot Spot has also been heavily criticised recently following claim that silicone tape wrapped around bats can trick the Hot Spot readings. Another one was snickometer, which too produces the evidence of sound even when bat brushes the pad. All these doubts may seem like splitting hairs, complicating the game, but complicate is exactly what DRS in its current form does.
There are other burning issues that need to be discussed, as they have the potential to turn matches. In a World Cup game, India challenged an lbw call because the umpire’s signal of leg-byes eliminated the only thing they thought could come in the way of the lbw: an inside edge. The replays showed an inside edge, the umpire went on to change leg-byes to runs, but India asked for a review, convinced of the umpire’s error, established through replays, which what made them to go for it.
During another World Cup game, Abdur Razzak was given out lbw before he successfully reviewed the call, but while the ball was counted, the four leg-byes weren’t. The team was deprived of a scoring opportunity by an umpiring decision, which was proved to be wrong. Perhaps the BCCI’s reasons for opposing the DRS in its current form are different from those stated above. You never know about the BCCI, do you? They have again extended their hands to welcome DRS — be it on trial basis. One hopes Indians too acclimatize to the new form of DRS.
by Sorabh Aggarwal