India’s tour of Australia is set to become memorable in more ways than one. Apart from the ups and downs of the players’ performance from both sides in the first two Tests, what has been firmly put under the scanner in the Decision Review System (DRS) of the International Cricket Council applicable to all top-level games.
The DRS coming under fire is nothing new. But what is disturbing is the question that it has forced some of the legends of the game to ask.
The contentious business of “umpire’s call”!
Indian great Sachin Tendulkar feels the review has been taken in the first place because player(s) were not happy / satisfied with the decision of the on-field umpire. Sticking to the same decision without conclusive proof either way makes a mockery of the entire exercise.
Sounding a similar note is Australian leg-spin legend Shane Warne, who wants to know how the same video can have to two contrasting results depending upon what the on-field umpire felt about it earlier. Warne opines that leg before decisions should be given “out” even if the ball-tracking shows the stumps being only brushed.
That firmly puts the entire ball-tracking business under the scanner.
From laying the “pitch mat” to running the video through the computer to simulate further movement of the ball (including path as well as height of flight) everything is done by humans who are prone to errors.
After all, playing out the video replay before the time has elapsed denying India a legitimate review can be brushed aside as human error then it may be worth noting that technology dependent upon human intervention can be anything but fool-proof and beyond reproach.
The powers that be in the ICC need to start brain-storming all over again with the available technology and how best to put it to use. Blindly borrowing technology from other sports hardly helps, even though it may have been tweaked to suit cricket.
What cricket needs is technology especially developed to cater to the subtle nuances of the game before being pushed into operation.
Before that ICC needs to get sensitised to the pit-falls of the DRS operation Only then can the game move ahead unhindered.
If not, it may be better to stick with neutral umpires, whose services have been dispensed with for this series at least due the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions on international travel.
Restoring confidence of players and fans is the responsibility of the people at the top. ICC needs to move and move fast before the public turns away!
Ravi Kant Singh is a sports writer, analyst and broadcaster since 1984, having covered a wide spectrum of sports—Olympics, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, FIFA World Cup, Cricket World Cup, ICC Champions Trophy, to name a few.
While working for ESPN Star Sports, he was a regular commentator for NBA, tennis, golf and many a major soccer leagues of Europe and South America. He has also pushed the cart of new home-grown leagues in India: Pro Kabaddi and Hockey India league, being involved with both since launch.