Thursday, 6 September 2012

UDRS (Umpire Decision Review System) Yes or No !

The big thing circling around in the cricket world these days is whether the DRS i.e. the Decision Review System (or Dravid Removal System as some of the Indian fans call it) should be made compulsory for all cricket matches or not. First things first, whatever the ICC decides, it must be uniform and must be applied to all the matches. It’s just ridiculous that you have one series played with DRS and another without DRS. Mind you even the series which play with the DRS rules implemented are applied in different forms. Some have Hawkeye as one of the judging criteria some have only Hotspot! It’s really bizarre and silly that you have a game which is being played with different rules in different continents.

Many feel that BCCI is being the main detractor of the DRS because of the teams failing to use the DRS effectively (as well as the controversies which occurred in England mainly with Dravid’s dismissals). Since nowadays most administrators are more concerned more about the commercial aspects rather than the game itself, the first thing they must look into is how will the smaller boards like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka be able to bear the costs for the equipment’s required for the DRS. The more powerful boards such as BCCI, ECB or CA have enough funds to cover the costs or have a large enough market to find a sponsor. The first thing the ICC has to do is if the DRS has to be implemented either they find a common sponsor for all the matches being played (the payment varying depending on the intensity of the series) or the ICC themselves sponsor the same.

Now coming to the point of the DRS. The first thing the ICC should clarify to everyone is the system they are trying to implement is not going to be 100% but a system which can remove the howlers away. The BCCI has to stop being adamant in saying that the two umpires on the field alone can do the job. Yes they can improve their standards, but with growing technology it would obviously be better if they are assisted. I would really like asking N Srinivasan what if India were to face the Sydney fiasco once again. Will they threaten to boycott the series once more?

Sanjay Manjrekar has been saying avoid the DRS and no need to talk about it, the series will be played without any controversy. Luckily for him after India’s tour of England, India never faced any major umpiring mistakes. What about the low profile series like Pakistan vs Sri Lanka? Pakistan were on the wrong side around 10 times!! Many of them were howlers which could have been easily overturned.

Hotspot was considered to 100% foolproof before the India England series happened. It is dependent on the weather conditions and hence until that condition is eradicated it cannot be used as a judging criterion for all the decisions. Hawkeye too has its flaws which is easily demonstrated by Phil Hughes dismissal in Sri Lanka which was later explained to be due to the difference in frame rates between the cameras used in Sri Lanka and those in England. Forget about uniformity in using DRS all around the world, there has to be uniformity in the equipment’s being used as well to allow DRS to be a successful venture.

As Harsha Bhogle recently pointed out in his article if you give the number of decisions to be made by the players, then as a batsman you are giving priority only to the top 1-7 usually to help themselves escape a wrong decision. What if your tail ender is winning you a match with the bat and then gets a wrong decision? He may not get the chance to review it!

My suggestion is to give the decision of the review in the hands of the umpire. He can use it when he feels there is a doubt and use the help of the television replays to make the correct decision. No need of the hotspot, just use the replays to check if a there was a genuine edge or not. Use hawkeye just to see where the ball has pitched and see that the impact of the ball on pad is within the line of the stumps. The third umpire shouldn’t take more than a minute to make his decision and if the replays are inconclusive till then, he should make his own decision. If a third umpire can’t make a decision in one minute after many replays it definitely can’t be any worse than what an onfield umpire will do. Yes this is not the most perfect system, it may cast more doubts on the umpires mind, yes the players may feel cheated that one decision is reviewed but a similar case isn’t but they should man up and not complain as after all cricket is a gentleman’s game ! , but what it can do is remove the howlers. It can help cricket avoid another Sydney fiasco.

Rohit Ramachandran PoduvalAbout Rohit Ramachandran Poduval
A Classical Leg Spinner, Writer and Software Engineer. Please feel free to add my to your circles. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook


Gaurav Kaul said...

I agree with your argument that the implementation of DRS should be consistent across the world along with the technology associated with it. Finding a global sponsor for it would definitely help, as it would highly subsidize the cost for the cricketing boards that are struggling with their finances. I think that your idea is right, that the DRS should be in place to eliminate howlers and not for really close decisions, where the ball is clipping the top of leg stump. The technology is not that accurate yet for me to buy those decisions. And in my eye, the batsman given out leg before when the ball is shown to shave the top of leg stump is a howler indeed. If he was a set batsman guiding the tail in a tight chase, it changes the match completely. This is because if he was to review the decision, it would come up as “umpires call” which was initially out, since the ball was clipping the stumps. And that in my eye is the failure of DRS. If the batsman has to be given out, I think that more than half of the ball has to be projected on the hit the stump. I believe virtual eye follows that technology but not hawkeye, and that goes back to your point about being consistent with the technology being implemented. Moreover, I slightly disagree with handing the prerogative to the umpires to use DRS and not the players. More often than not, when the umpire is in doubt, he will give the batsman not out and not go to the third umpire, so I don’t see this as a successful option. I think the batsmen in the middle have to be smart about their referrals. By that I mean, they should discuss it with their partners before referring the decisions and not act like Virender Sehwag during the World Cup Finals and Semi-finals. With that, and having the consistent technology in place, I think we can move forward to use DRS in all series to implement howlers to start with. And as time goes by, we can all hope that technology gets better and we can restore BCCI’s trust back in this referral system, which I strongly believe is good for the game, and much needed as well. However, the fact of the matter is, right now ICC is not strong enough to make these bold decisions, and BCCI is not changing its stance either, so we will all have to play the waiting game.

Rohit Ramachandran Poduval said...

Gaurav I agree that handing the option of reviews to Umpires isnt the best option. But what if a team requires 1 run to win with 1 wicket in hand and a howler is made and there are no reviews left. I am assuming that umpires will always have a gut feeling which decision has to be reviewed (as in they know that it might be a howler, its better if it is reviewed). There are upsides and downsides for both methods. I just suggested with one of them. And I doubt its possible to create the perfect system.

Gaurav Kaul said...

The main issue with leaving DRS with the umpire is that it is going to become like a run-out scenario. Most run out appeals are referred upstairs. Even though some of the decisions are fairly straight forward, umpires always refer it to make sure (what if the batsman didn't ground his bat, etc.). I fear that if DRS goes to the umpire, there will be too many referrals and that will take away from the continuity of the game.

Anonymous said...

Hi, nice post. It's actually known as the DRS these days, FYI :) I read through it, and I do agree with you that DRS should be fully implemented for each series, and by fully I mean the HotSpot and everything else. Also, the "big brothers", BCCI CA and ECB need to help the smaller boards like BCB and SLC like you mentioned, in order to cover the costs of the DRS. I think it's some $5000 a day, which is not easily payable for some boards like those. I think BCCI should stop whining about the past and get on with it. It will not only do India good, but the whole world good, and cricket good. I'm an ardent Indian fan and I would love to see the DRS to be used in every series, that way there's no "we lost the match because of poor umpire decisions"! or "there were 15 howlers against us"!

Rohit Ramachandran Poduval said...

@Cric Sloggers In the ideal world, BCCI, CA and ECB would have helped the smaller boards. Buts lets face the hard facts, no one is there to do anybody favours, all are interested in making money for their respective boards. Hence I feel the only way that it can be implemented across all matches is if they find a common sponsor, for which ICC will have to do some work, which they haven't for quite some time :)

Anonymous said...

@Rohit Ramachandran Poduval Agreed. BCCI is the king of all boards, yet are mighty selfish and only help themselves. The ICC need to think of some way to enforce the policy, and that means getting past the BCCI. I don't understand why they still haven't. If all boards are treated equally, then why is the BCCI given a higher place? Because of their power and money? The ICC needs a new President, is it that old Sharad Pawar who is in that position now? No wonder why. :)

Rohit Ramachandran Poduval said...

@Cric Sloggers Easy to blame BCCI for everything! If ECB or CA were in power, do you think they would have done anything different. Ideally, no one should do wrong, but as I said lets face it, no one will do anyone favours! High time, ex cricketers take up administrative posts and ensure the game progress in the right direction

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