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Tests engrossing but the referrals not up to the mark

There was a grandstand finish to the old Test year and an excellent start to the new one but the same can’t be said for the Decision Review System (DRS) and Pakistan.

cricket Updated: Jan 17, 2010 00:50 IST

There was a grandstand finish to the old Test year and an excellent start to the new one but the same can’t be said for the Decision Review System (DRS) and Pakistan.

From a playing point of view, the year finished with a flourish. India beat Sri Lanka with Virender Sehwag reviving thoughts of Sir Donald Bradman by scoring all but three hundred runs in a Test match day.

Meanwhile, New Zealand and Pakistan played a hard fought tied series and most importantly for Test cricket, the West Indies showed signs of life with a spirited conclusion to their series in Australia.

Then a thrilling draw in Durban and Australia’s amazing turnaround victory at the SCG kicked off the New Year in fine style.

Test cricket was alive and thriving; people were talking, not so much about how it could be saved but it’s amazing ability to capture the emotions.

The DRS, in its latest form, with the predictive path of Hawkeye being utilised, was introduced in November.

We were told by the International Cricket Council that the aim was to eliminate the howler and hopefully make players more honest. The system has failed to live up to its billing.

The bulk of the decisions being reviewed are lbw appeals that are marginal at best. Fifty/fifty decisions have always been part of the game and are generally received magnanimously by players.

Now they are being regularly reviewed with the umpires original decision on most occasions being shown to be a good one; i.e. one the player would’ve accepted graciously before the DRS was introduced.

Worse still, players are now reviewing decisions in the hope that the system will make a mistake.

As there are flaws in a system that is constantly being fine-tuned, mistakes occur; while it’s accepted that humans make mistakes it is sometimes forgotten that so do computers. Currently the howler is most likely to come from off the field rather than on it.

Rather than encouraging batsmen to walk, the system has influenced them to stay around more and make “the sign of the T.”

Unfortunately, when the system was unveiled, there was mention of poor umpiring but no talk about how to improve the standard of officiating. So far the DRS seems to be having an adverse affect on umpires with some even saying it changes their decision-making process.

The ICC made a fundamental mistake when they first introduced the third umpire experiment.

They relied on television to provide the tools for the system rather than them taking complete responsibility for the process.

This has resulted in certain tools not being utilised in some series because the television company involved deemed them either unnecessary or too expensive.