Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A different view on the review

With the Australians copping a couple of umpiring errors during the first day's play at Melbourne, the debate on the use of the Decision Review System (DRS) has been reignited once again. The point most commonly raised is that it should either be used in every series or else be discarded outright. As I see it, the situation really isn't quite as simple.

To be honest, I have never been a fan of the DRS in its existing form. The original intention in introducing the DRS was to eliminate rank howlers. That being the case, why not have the third umpire inform the ground umpire that there has been an obvious error? It is a pretty simple idea that could have been implemented without all the hype and hoopla sorrounding the DRS and without bringing about a situation where players can legally challenge the umpires.

More power to the third Umpire?

Besides, the idea of placing a limit on the number of reviews makes little sense to me. The temptation to use a review is always going to be there in case of a marginal decision. Should that result in a wasted review, it could well mean that a deserving batsman or bowler who gets a shocking decision might have to live with the obvious injustice meted out to him- which defeats the very purpose behind the introduction of the review system.

Why limit the number of reviews?

The argument for uniformity of conditions is a valid one. The current scenario of having the review system in some series and not having it in others is far from ideal. But having the DRS in all series is no guarantee to uniformity in playing conditions, because the technology too requires to be uniform. Broadcasters in smaller nations cannot afford expensive technology like high resolution cameras and hotspot, resulting in the absurdity where there are variations within the DRS itself. Under the circumstances, the uniformity of the playing conditions itself is debatable.

Is DRS technology consistent?

In any case, do we really need the latest technology to spot an obvious howler? Shockers like the one that Hussey copped at Melbourne or Ishant Sharma did at Sydney four seasons ago were evident even to the naked eye. They could have been avoided if the third umpire was empowered to intervene in case of blatant errors- a possibility which existed long before hot spot or hawk eye even came into existence.

Is DRS effective for marginal decisions?

Effectively, the latest technology comes into the picture only if the evidence presented to the naked eye is inconclusive. Given the fact that the technologies in question still have question marks over them, there's still no guarantee that the DRS can conclusively settle marginal calls. In any case, the review system was never intended to adjudicate marginal decisions.

While the debate over the DRS rages, its worth keeping in mind that it isn't all black and white as we are assuming it to be.

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