Dubious DRS

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Shamik Chakrabarty | Updated: Jul 21 2013, 10:59am hrs
Narayanaswami Srinivasan has become reclusive since he stepped aside as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president. But at his Chennai mansion, he must be enjoying the latest drama that surrounds the Decision Review System (DRS). Srinivasan always loathed technology in its present, inconclusive form. He is the reason why the implementation of the DRS could not be made mandatory in all bilateral series. He and the BCCI were called a bully by a section of the former players and media. But Srinivasan stood his ground. Now he must be having a hearty laugh.

Little kid Ashton Agar rose like a meteor in Trent Bridge. Ian Bell has already scored back-to-back hundreds in the first two Tests. Still, DRS has become the hot topic, and that too for all the wrong reasons. Jonathan Trott and the whole England camp were livid after the batsman was given out leg before in the second innings of the first Test. Aleem Dars decision was overturned on review by third umpire Marais Erasmus on inconclusive evidence. The Hot Spot erred big time in that case. In fact, the side-on Hot Spot was completely out of action. Erasmus overruled Dar on the basis of what he saw on television. It was a big blunder.

The Stuart Broad fiasco was all about not applying common sense as far as the use of technology was concerned. Broads performance was worthy of a Bafta award after he thick-edged an Agar delivery to Michael Clarke at first slip. Dar was myopic enough to miss such a big edge, Broad refused to budge and Australia had already used their two reviews. If common sense would have prevailed, the third umpire could have instantly communicated with Dar and helped him correct his decision. But that didnt happen. Nor was there any flexibility in the rule to allow the third umpire to intervene in such a matter. So, Broad lived a charmed life and stitched a partnership with Bell which, in the end, proved to be decisive.

It was interesting to know that Queen Elizabeth II inquired about the DRS, when Joe Root reviewed his leg before decision on the first day at Lords. People of her generation grew up, knowing by heart that the umpires decision is final and questioning his authority is just not cricket. So, Her Majesty must be a little confused when an umpiring decision went upstairs for verification. Jokes apart, DRS appears to be creating more confusion rather than solving the riddle. And this is not the first time. Teams and players have suffered in other series and tournaments as well. But its good that truth is winning out during the Ashes. Till the other day, the BCCI was described as a lone wolf. Now, others are ready to join the pack. Even the staunch DRS backers are willing to discuss its pros and cons.

Public memory is short. People tend to forget that the BCCI was the first cricket body to experiment with the DRS during a three-Test series in Sri Lanka in 2008. The International Cricket Council (ICC) officially implemented it next year. Indias experience was so bitter that they promptly disbanded it.

A section of the English and Australian cricket fraternity, intimidated by Indias power and jealous at the BCCIs success in making the Indian Premier League (IPL) a huge global brand, continued to sharpen their knives and were always ready to strike at every given opportunity. They tried to take the mickey out of Srinivasan & Co in the DRS issue. They even said that the BCCIs reservation was based on Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhonis reluctance. Time for the cynics to eat the humble pie.

We will continue to oppose the DRS as long as we are not convinced about the Hawk-Eyes ball-tracking technology. Technology has to be foolproof, Srinivasan told this correspondent during an interview last year. Hawk-Eye is a complex computer system which visually tracks the trajectory of the ball from different angles. By the companys own admission, its not completely error-free. Same is the case with the Hot Spot, which uses an infra-red imaging system to determine if the ball has hit the bat or not. Now listen to what Adam Gilchrist said. The DRS is not the solution, its part of the problem, because it does not get rid of the mistakes it was created to eradicate, the world's finest ever wicketkeeper-batsman wrote in his column.

And lets hear ICC chief executive Dave Richardsons views during a TV interview with David Gower. India have got good reasons (for opposing the DRS) and some issues are debatable, Richardson said. Indeed, DRS will continue to complicate matters until the technology is foolproof and some common sense is applied. It must also work without restrictions.