Saturday, April 02, 2011


It is just about half-way in the finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 (WC) in Mumbai; with Sri Lanka going good, I thought it was time to put my thoughts about this rather long event. I am not going to talk, in this series, a word about individual and team performances; neither am I going to talk what the newspapers have all talked. I am going to critique the WC – there have been far too many things I have not liked in this WC. So many things that the mainstream media have been glossing over and the ICC has been glossing over (as if anyone expected ICC to be proactive – they are not even properly reactive!).

First on my list is the Umpires’ Decision Review System (UDRS), and I will stick to this term – ICC, in deference to the umpires’ objection, have dropped the ‘U’ from the abbreviation to make it DRS. It does not take a dumbass to understand that the review is on the umpires’ decisions – not a review of why a batsman got hit on the pad or why he edged and not a review of why the bowler got the edge of the bat before it hit the pad or why the bowler missed the edge of the bat on the way to the ‘keeper. So even before UDRS has settled down, here we are, making the first ‘U’ turn, and pardon the pun!

What is a review for? It is just the one party is not happy with a decision and has chosen to appeal against the decision to a so-called higher authority. So, once a decision goes up, it has to be finalized there; returning the call to the umpire who made the supposedly wrong decision, at least in the eyes of the aggrieved party, simply does not meet the ends of natural justice. If only all jurisprudence was conducted in this manner, the entire world would be anarchy by now – not that is too far away anyway! Far too many decisions have been bounced back to the men who made the avowedly wrong decision in the first place; this means that far too many decisions have not been decisively taken by the higher appellate authority. Only the ICC is to blame for this mess. How? Read on.

The ridiculous 2.5m rule is one of the culprits, and probably the biggest one. Though, in the light of the Ian Bell decision, ICC decided to take the proverbial ‘one step forward’, actually it was two steps backward. Let me tell the ICC that to thrust an unproven system in an important event as the WC simply does not wash. ICC should have stuck to the decision if they felt they were right. People may praise the ICC is proactively responding to an evolving system, but no sports governing body worth its salt will trial a system at its flagship event. As simple as that.

Next is the absence of the Hot Spot – a superb defence-related technology that shows, using infra-red cameras, the spots where the ball has made contact as it passes the stumps. The excuse is that there are very few cameras in the world and will not be enough for all the matches to be covered. If you don’t have the equipment, don’t trial anything that is equipment-dependent. You can’t start a multiplex without the projecting equipment. The excuse is that these cameras are very costly. If you can’t meet the cost, don’t even think of it; it is a case of low-living, high-thinking. Any small kid knows that you cannot get a Rs.30 ice cream if you take Rs.10 to the vendor! There is also a minor issue of ICC forcing the rights-holding TV companies to invest in these cameras. If ICC wants these images, it is they who should invest, not force it on the TV companies. It is a bit like asking someone to buy lingerie for your wife! But ICC says the UDRS is fine even without hot spot, surely an ostrich-like attitude. It is actually very easy to include hot spot – let ICC buy enough of them. After all, ICC is flush with money; if ICC is broke, ask BCCI to buy some and lease them wherever required – BCCI will only be happy at seizing another money-making opportunity.

The ball-tracking technology is another major issue – there are at least two technologies available, Virtual Eye and Hawk Eye. We all saw that the ball tracking shows different points of impact when these technologies are used. I remember seeing a photograph from the Ashes where one technology showed the ball hitting pad at least three inches higher – a critical input going wrong when one of those technologies is used. You surely would not want to be hanged on such evidence, but ICC are adamant that no matter what technology is used – they have no say in the matter – UDRS must go through. Add to this mix the 2.5m rule, and the only spelling you get is ‘confusion’ – certainly not the right frame of mind for anyone to be out there reviewing.
The only answer that ICC has is that UDRS is an evolving system. Any sane organization, as I have already stated, does not use ‘evolving’ technology in such an important event. That much for ICC’s sanity. The telecasts have been showing various statistics about the success of reviews made through the UDRS by various teams. This is just hogwash and driven by ICC publicity – these are just numbers that show how successfully teams have exploited a technical inconsistency to their advantage.

Talking of technical inconsistency, ICC seem to promote exactly that and nothing more. How else do you explain the use of any ball-tracking technology, optional use of hot spot cameras, etc. The decision is also left to consensus in bilateral series. Shambolic. Will UEFA allow use of goal-line technology in the Champions League and not use it in the Europa League?

That probably fully explains why BCCI is reluctant to sign in to UDRS. I fully support India’s decision not to go with the UDRS. The UDRS is just a half-baked system to show that ICC is doing something to get more fairness into the game, but sorry folks, ICC is dialing the wrong number on this. The sooner we get this out or get COMPLETE uniformity, UDRS will not get my vote – not that it matters.


Blogger Siva said...

i dont agree..all sporting bodies evolve over a period of time, and esp so, if it is do with technology. FIFA too is unsure of the online goals...yes, they could have easily invested on the hot spot tech too...but except for perhaps bell's decision and saeed ajmal's arm ball to sachin, i guess the DRS worked well...i am certainly not as critical as you are...surely, ICC will learn thro this experience and come out with a clear technology in 2015

Blogger gpk said...

It is now the general rule for asking the third umpire's decision for any of the things.

Then why do we require the umpires. Put a camera officially in the umpire's position and let all the decisions be given by a big screen which is already available.


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