The ball hits the edge of the bat before crashing into pad. The fielding team appeals vociferously and the umpire adjudges the batsman out. Haven’t we seen such inaccurate judgments being pronounced often?
They are far from being an aberration and the argument is that the umpires are humans and can err too. Point taken, but what happens next depends on that single decision the captains took ahead of the series. For example, if you happen to be involved in a series where the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) is not being used, you must make your way back to the pavilion without even breaking a frown. For a frown or shake of the head might be considered ‘showing dissent’ and could attract a summons from the match referee or even a fine.
But if the UDRS was in use, you could make T-sign and the matter would be referred to the Third Umpire, if your team hasn’t already exhausted three unsuccessful challenges.
India and Sri Lanka were the first two teams to experiment with the UDRS two years ago. Since then, both teams have taken radically different approaches. While Kumar Sangakarra believes that the UDRS should be mandatory, MS Dhoni believes that there’s no point in using it till it’s foolproof.
Evidently, these reactions are based on their experiences. While Mahela Jayawardene (then captain) got it right almost every single time, his counterpart, Anil Kumble, got it wrong more often than not. But isn’t it inappropriate to blame the system for not getting your judgement right? The reason the Indians struggled the first time UDRS was brought into play, was because Kumble was at mid-on or mid-off which isn’t ideal to make a call. And hence he had to rely on Dinesh Karthik for inputs, who, unfortunately, got it wrong and so did Kumble. Jayawardene was always at slip, had a better view, and hence had the leeway of calling correctly.
I’m not saying this system is absolutely correct but does that mean you refuse to use it till it’s perfect?
We all remember the infamous Sydney test between India and Australia. Without going into the murky details the issues began with Andrew Symonds not being given out off Ishant Sharma when it was visible to everyone except the umpire that he’d nicked it. Had there been the UDRS, the matter would have been settled then and there, and perhaps matters wouldn’t have escalated.
Yes, there’s a lot that can be done in the current UDRS, like giving the third-umpire more power and responsibility. He should be given the right to inform the on-field umpires immediately if an error is committed. The idea is not to undermine the role of the on-field umpire but to empower him to make the right decisions.
I don’t know of a batsman worth his salt who likes to be given out when he is not and the same goes for the bowlers with regards to dismissals. So, instead of being reluctant, a good idea would be to employ it first and then make an effort to make it as perfect as it can get.