DRS – A Boon or a Bane?

Rising Pune Supergiant v Gujarat Lions

Let’s go down memory lane in 2008, the year which boosted Indian cricket in many aspects. This was the year which saw the resurgence of Indian cricket.

A young captain led Indian team rewrote history as they rattled Australia in the CB series by commencing a new era in Indian cricket. This year also saw Sachin Tendulkar going past Lara’s tally of 12k Test runs and became the highest run scorer in Test cricket.

This year also saw the use of the DRS, decision reviewing system for the first time.

The system was first tested in a Sri Lanka – India Test match in 2008 and was officially launched by the ICC on November 24, 2009 during first Test between Pakistan and New Zealand.

Over the years, no doubt, this system has served beneficially for the game of cricket. But the question still remains is whether it is 100% correct or not.

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One of the DRS rules go like this:

“For a not-out decision to be overturned, more than half the ball has to be impacting the pad within a zone bordered by the outside of off and leg stumps. (formerly it was from the centre of off and leg stumps) and the ball needs to be hitting stumps in that mentioned zone.”

This effectively means that if at least 25% of the ball was going to hit any part of the stumps (excluding the bails), then it’s out, even if the original decision was NOT OUT. And this is the category which comes under the so debated umpire’s call.

According to the ICC Rules, if, in spite of technology the umpire is unable to take a call, then he should report that the replays are inconclusive and thus should approve the on-field decision. The third umpire is not bound to give answers conveying likelihoods or probabilities.

Thus the new DRS rules have literally shifted the benefit of doubt from batsmen to bowlers.

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Recently the Indian skipper’s wicket was a great example of the DRS being not 100% sure.

This umpire’s call also swindled Australian opener David Warner in the on-going series. Replays showed that a minuscule part of the ball had hit him in line. There are cases where the DRS technology’s margin of error prevents it from being certain, and in such cases, the ‘Umpire’s Call’ sign would flash.

Whenever a new law is introduced into cricket, it gets inundated by controversies. But for DRS it seems controversies are legal.

Former Indian captain MS Dhoni still believes that DRS isn’t foolproof. He also insists that DRS should be 100% correct. When DRS was introduced to the world, West Indies legend, Joel Garner labelled the system a gimmick (a trick intended to attract publicity).

Former umpire Dickie Bird also criticised the system, saying it undermines the authority of one on-field umpires while former Sri Lankan captain, Kumar Sangakkara had the view that the ICC should’ve got rid of the umpire’s call. He also persisted that If the ball was hitting the stumps it should be out on review regardless of umpire’s decision.

All this suggests that ICC hasn’t done enough to clarify what the DRS actually is. Repeated incidents and accompanying chatter only erode the credibility of the ICC in everyone’s eyes.

The primacy of the umpire in the game of cricket is a given, as the “umpire’s decision is final” was prevalent in the pre-DRS era. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the benefit of doubt is given to the umpire’s decision in the absence of conclusive evidence that the wrong decision was made.

Well, according to me, this DRS is a boon for bowlers but a curse for batsmen. It should be mutated in such a way that it becomes 100% foolproof. All the technology companies need to think on how it can be rejuvenated.

In the ongoing series between India and Australia, DRS was a reason of an on-field spat between the two captains, resulting into the involvement of both the boards.

However ICC calmed the things down but does that mean the DRS controversies are going away any time soon? Only time will tell.

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