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Is DRS suited for one-day cricket and the World Cup?

  The gentlemen's game found its roots in the imperial land of England and saw its culmination in the first ever official test match in 1887 between England and Australia. At the time of submission of this essay the game shall be celebrating its 2000th test in the Mecca of cricket-the Lords cricket ground (London). This long journey has seen some of the most riveting contests associated with any game and delineates a glorious history to look back at. Though the game may not be as widely played as football, but to limit it as a commonwealth game would be nothing short of sheer ignorance.

The land of the United Kingdom played host to the first ever one day match, quite fittingly too, between the counties of Leicestershire and Derbyshire. The first ever One Day International was played at Melbourne (Australia).The game owes a lot to a certain Kerry Parker whose World Series cricket was crucial in paving the way for this shorter version of the game.

The umpires play a crucial role and are a sine-qua-non of every sport let alone cricket. With increasing amounts of pressure and the rapid pace of the game, umpiring errors are bound to take place. This is where the debate of the use of technology creeps in. Technology finds its use in various sports like tennis, basketball and baseball and has been instrumental in guiding the sport in the right direction.

The Umpire Decision Review System(DRS) was officially launched by International Cricket Council on 24 November 2009 during the first Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan at the University Oval in Dunedin. It was first used in One Day Internationals in January 2011, during England's tour of Australia. Since then the DRS has come a long way by not only eliminating wrong decisions but also helping improve player-umpire relations.

The DRS in its present format entails the use of technologies like hot spot (infra red imaging devices), Hawkeye (software designed to predict the future path of the ball) ,audio devices like stump mic and also the stump camera. The Feasibility of the DRS in the shorter version of the game like the ODI and prestigious tournaments like the world cup has been a matter of debate.

  The ICC had summoned various meetings into this effect and ultimately decided to proceed with the use of technology. This underlined the positive attitude of the top brass and would help in giving the game a global face. The DRS has a vital role to play in the sport some of which are:

  1. It would help get rid of dubious decisions and would go a long way in promoting the spirit of the game. It would be a pity for the result of a game or a tournament to be decided by a wrong decision.
  2. It would help strengthen umpire –player relations as prejudices for wrong decisions will have no scope.
  3. It would make the game more competitive and improve the umpiring standards of the on-field umpires too as they would be under the scanner of technology.

The arguments against the use of DRS forwarded by some of the member nations and especially the all powerful BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) are very naive. The major arguments forwarded are:

  1. The cost incurred for the use of hot spot devices is very high.
  2. The technology is not 100% fool proof.
  3. The use of technology would undermine the significance of on-field umpires.

The lack of logic behind these arguments is quite baffling. The BCCI, richest cricket board in the world find the hot spot device expensive while relatively less financially stable boards like New Zealand have no cost issues. The argument that on field umpires would lose significance is equally naïve as the DRS has ample provisions of upholding the on field umpires decision.

The DRS was a huge success in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 as quite a few vital decisions were over ruled and the course of the tournament would have been quite different to the worst had it not been for the use of technology with a particular instance of Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal being over ruled in the semi- final being the most prominent.

The debate hinges on the best way to utilize the technology and the way forward would be to find the best mixture between preserving the gentleman's tag of the game and minimizing erroneous umpiring decisions. Some of the possible amendments in the interest of improving the use of technology could be:

  1. The number of reviews could be reduced to minimize the use of the DRS on mere speculative or instinctive basis.
  2. The umpires can be handed over the reviewing power as they are the best judge of whether they are sure of the decision they are making or not.
  3. A Certain time limit should be set for the 3rd umpire to make the decision so as to not slow down the pace of the game.
In the end one can safely conclude that the DRS is highly feasible for the ODI Format and all nations tournaments like the WOLRD CUP. If at most something is required, it is the tweaking of certain provisions of the Decision Review System which should be done in consultation with all the member nations and not an oligarchic group exercising all the power.

By

JAGTESHWAR SINGH SOHAL