The DRS debate: here we go again

gavjoshi Roar Guru

By gavjoshi, gavjoshi is a Roar Guru


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    Yet another game goes by and the umpires are scrutinised despite the technology available to assist them.

    With the tour of India coming up, don’t be surprised if we see a few more howlers in the coming weeks, especially with no DRS present in the series.

    BCCI opposition for using the DRS has created considerable controversy. But is the current DRS too technology-focused? Does it ignore the human eye in cricketing judgement?

    Decisions which should never have been given out are now being given out.

    What does this mean for the best umpires of the past era? Does Hawk-Eye suggest the likes of Dickie Bird or David Shepherd should have given more decisions in favour of the bowlers?

    What if a batsman is hit on the full around three metres outside the crease and the projected ball path shows it hitting middle stump? Can we give it out when such a decision should never be given?

    The answers to all these questions will remain ambiguous.

    One thing is for certain with the current application of DRS – it reduces the authority of an umpire on the field.

    From a cricket perspective, DRS is definitely beneficial, but the objective of it is to assist umpires to make correct decisions. Over the years technology has assisted batsmen, bowlers and coaches.

    DRS is supposed to be there for umpires’ use only. Hence, it should only be at a request of the umpire that the technology should be used.

    When the technology was first trialled in the 2002 Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka, the principle of the trial was that only the umpires could review a decision.

    This allowed umpires to rely on their own instinct and still have respect for their own decision. Secondly, it meant, in theory, that each and every decision by an umpire could be reviewed, if doubted by the on-field umpire himself.

    This method would eliminate any chance of the umpire making a “howler” of a decision.

    The flaw in the current format of reviews used by the batsman and fielding captains is that it is still possible, once all reviews have been used, that an incorrect decision can occur.

    The current format exposes the umpires for incorrect decision and more importantly could still change the fortune of the match.

    During the last World Cup only 12% of the umpiring decisions were overturned, reflecting that, on most occasions, umpires are making correct calls. In the 12% of times, if the umpire was in doubt, he needed further clarification.

    Furthermore, ICC could also look into the trial by ensuring the Hawk-Eye technology will only be available to umpires.

    This means the projected path of the ball will not be seen by the television audience. It can be only used by umpires and not made available to the public.

    This will create less controversy as the public cannot openly criticise umpires. The public will then gain confidence that the decision was based upon the use of technology and the expertise of an umpire.

    Although this option is extreme, it could well be needed so umpires attain the respect they deserve.

    Now to those who believe current DRS is efficient, let me point out that current DRS technology is not up to the task and it too has flaws, similar to the human eye. To ensure DRS is a complete package, it is essential all components of the technology need to be imbedded into it.

    It makes no sense to have LBW covered by the Hawk-Eye projector while Hotspot and Snicko cannot be used.

    It is imperative that Hotspot and Snicko are imbedded into the DRS.

    It should be known to the public that, even with the current growing technology, the speed that a ball is delivered cannot be captured in each frame. The impact of the ball on the pad is projected and not the actual impact.

    It is the same with run-outs when the frame that identifies the batsmen is short of his ground is not available due to lack of technology. Experts may argue it may be marginally off, but this could well make the difference if the ball is clipping the stumps.

    Letting a batsman decide his own fate in the game of cricket makes further mockery of an umpire. Even if the umpire is in doubt, let the umpire decide for himself if he needs to review it.

    It should not come to the batsman to ask the umpire to correct his decision when the batsman is the one who has made the initial mistake.

    At the end of the day the umpire’s decision, on or off the field, will always remain, so the players and public should rightfully respect it.

    From a supporter’s point of view, an incorrect decision could well change the fortune of a match but so can a missed opportunity. In the current age, even with technological assistance, there are bound to be blunders.

    But isn’t sport about controversies as well? One tends to forget that the controversies can be the start of conversations about individual players, teams and sports.

    After all, cricket is supposed to be gentleman’s game and if this reputation is to continue then cricketers need to believe that the decisions made by the umpire and third umpire are correct.

    Players need to remember to the decision on the chin and play the game like gentlemen.

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 7:09am
      Sydney Kiwi said | January 22nd 2013 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Here Here, Exactly how I feel on the matter.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 8:37am
      Allanthus said | January 22nd 2013 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      Sorry Gavjoshi, but some of your points are contradictory and illogical.

      The batsmen don’t “decide their own fate”, they are given not out or out just as they always were. The DRS allows a batsman to challenge an obviously incorrect call, eg if he knows he has edged it into his pad and can’t be out lbw. That part of the system isn’t broken at all, if a previous batsman wants to take a punt and try to challenge a 50/50 call as opposed to a howler, then they are not using the system correctly and the side is vulnerable later in the innings. Until captains use the system properly they get no sympathy from me – use DRS to challenge when you are 100% the decision is wrong, otherwise cop the 50/50 decision just like you always have.

      It is not a flaw of DRS that incorrect umpiring decisions occur. They did in the past, they do now and will do so in the future. DRS has nothing to do with umpiring skill. Anyone who has umpired knows how hard it can be – I will never forget one occasion umpiring when big bad Barry Kavanaugh was batting, the ball flew past the edge of his bat, I heard the “snick” and my finger went straight up. A second later I realised there was no appeal, no excitement from the field, and Barry was standing at the crease giving me the biggest WTF look you’ve ever seen. I quickly reached my left arm across to scratch the so called itch i had under my raised right arm, then smoothly went into into a couple of raised arm stretches and somehow, got away with it. The point being, I reckon I could umpire pretty well, I would have put my house on that being out, but it obviously wasn’t. Just like what happened to Paul Reiffel.

      But I digress… you suggest that because only 12% of calls were overturned in the world cup, the umpire was in doubt those 12% of times and could have asked for a review. You can’t draw that conclusion. The umpire may have been in doubt 50% of the time and just happened to get most of them right. Or he may not have been in doubt for any of them, and just happened to get 12% wrong, even though he had no doubt at the time of the call. Which, depending on your personal view, might be an acceptable or unacceptable ratio.

      I’d suggest that if most of the umpires decisions were correct and not challenged, and of those that were, only 12% were proven to be wrong and 88% correct, then that’s a pretty good outcome. If the crusade to get 100% of the calls correct comes at a cost of the umpire self-referring any call where he has some doubt, then that is surely too big a price to pay. It will become like run outs, where every appeal is referred, because the umpire has nothing to gain and everything to lose from making a call. With the next logical step being on field umpires replaced by hat stands, and every other decision being made from the TV control room.

      As for your romantic but naive notion that cricket is a gentleman’s game… there are countless books and articles dispelling this. Should players cop decisions on the chin and play in a sporting manner? Of course they should, and both the written and unwritten codes should demand this. But for as long as an icon of the game such as Warnie carries on like he has recently, any idea that cricket is a game played by gentlemen should be forgotten.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 9:06am
      Happy Hooker said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      Allanthus, your second paragraph hits the nail on the head.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 9:22am
      Bayman said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      If we assume the idea of the DRS is to eliminate mistakes or, at the very least the howler, then the option to call in the technology should be left with the umpires and the umpires only.

      In the recent ODI, Michael Clarke’s call for review on a marginal call for him but an obvious out for everyone else effectively burnt both Warner and Henriques. It is the clear weakness in the concept.

      During the recent Test series Sri Lanka tended to burn chances like a pyromaniac as they reviewed almost every decision when their best players were given out. Not necessarily because they thought the decision wrong but because they put so much store in the contributions from those three players, Dilshan, Sangakarra and Jayawardene. Any effort to keep them at the crease was considered worth it.

      It is now being used tactically by players when, apparently, the original reason was to eliminate the poor decision which now seems less of a priority.

      The end result the other night was that the umpire’s got right the Clarke call which was reviewed and upheld but their reputations took a beating because the two decisions which would have been overturned were not allowed to be reviewed.

      I’m all for just letting umpires umpire and to hell with the technology. If, however, the pampered politically correct among us want the correct decisions one hundred percent of the time why do we set limits on the number of challenges and why do we allow players to make the call?

      The limits are set almost certainly because the players get to initiate the challenge and without a limit there’d be challenges damn near every over and ninety overs a day would soon become eighty. Presumably there’s some official concern that if only umpires could make the call they would do it every time to eliminate being seen to be wrong – which would also bring in delays and show umpires as people too frightened to take responsibility and make a decision.

      So there’s a limit which means a couple of guys (or one in an ODI) get the option and the rest get burnt, a la Warner and Henriques. In other words, the ICC accepts that some decisions may be wrong and chooses to do nothing about it. In that case, why not accept them all and flick the technology altogether. We might even get some umpires with more confidence in their ability.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 10:47am
        Brett McKay said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

        “If we assume the idea of the DRS is to eliminate mistakes or, at the very least the howler, then the option to call in the technology should be left with the umpires and the umpires only.”

        This is the crux of it, well said Bayman. No need for me to add anything here, just hand it to the umps…

    • Roar Guru

      January 22nd 2013 @ 9:49am
      Andy_Roo said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:49am | ! Report

      If the intention of DRS was to benefit umpires then Umpiring would be the sport and umpires would be the celebrities/superstars with the cricketer relegated to the roles of a necessary support act.
      DRS is intended to benefit the game of cricket itself.
      I don’t like the tactical use of DRS by the players but the players/captains make their choices and live or die by them.

      • January 22nd 2013 @ 10:31am
        Bayman said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:31am | ! Report


        Did you actually think about that first sentence before you wrote it?

        The only reason for the DRS is to (hopefully) provide umpires with the opportunity to get their decisions right because somebody – not me, incidentally – thought that would be a good thing. The only other possible use of it is to give us all something to watch on television while those on the field are not getting on with the game.

        To that end, how do you propose and support the theory that the intention of the DRS was ‘to benefit the game of cricket itself’ if it’s not about actually getting umpiring decisions right? And how does the game of cricket actually benefit from the Clarke decision being proved right and the Warner and Henriques decisions being proved wrong. Because it was the rules surrounding the DRS which allowed that to happen.

        I could just buy into the notion that DRS is intended to benefit players (if it’s not the umpires) but the idea it’s sole purpose is to benefit ‘the game of cricket itself’ – with the advantages it brings to umpires and players as an unintended side benefit – is fanciful to say the least.

        The only statement you’ve made with any connection to logic is the last concerning the tactical use of DRS. Given the current scenario I fully agree with you on that. But, I repeat, how ignoring the obvious errors perpetrated on Warner and Henriques is benefitting the “game of cricket itself” escapes me.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 10:38am
      Ian Whitchurch said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

      The DRS debate can be summed up as “People are whiners. Maybe a technological fix that kinda works will shut them up. Nope ? Oh well”.

      As they will whine no matter whether DRS is used or not, lets simply ban this whole stupid idea of institutionalising dissenting agianst the umpires decision.

      Hire umpires. Get them to decide if the appeal is given or not.

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