Why is DRS so difficult?

Sport24 columnist Antoinette Muller (File)
Sport24 columnist Antoinette Muller (File)
It’s not often that logic prevails in cricket. It has, however, partly prevailed ahead of the next Ashes Test between England and Australia starting at Old Trafford next week. 

It’s not quite a watershed moment, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. A system for the decision review system will be trialled where the third umpire is less reliant on the host broadcaster’s technology.

At the Old Trafford Test, there will be a number of televisions in the third umpire's room with Hawk-Eye, replays and Hot Spot directly available to him to look at independently to what is on TV.

The information will be available quickly and it will remove the "suspicion" that the DRS system is open to manipulation from the host broadcasters.

According to the ICC's CEO, Dave Richardson, the TV broadcaster could manipulate the replays and remove certain parts of it before the umpire gets access to the replays. He’s not saying it happens, just that it can.

This system is still in its initial development stages and there won't be any changes to the current system midway, through the series, but at least it’s a tiny step forward in getting a system with plenty of potential to be adequately employed.

Hot Spot has caused much debate throughout the Ashes. So has the umpiring. It begs the question: How, in this modern age of technology, are there still absolute howlers which prevail?

The level of umpiring in the Ashes has been shocking at times - and not just by one specific umpire. It would appear that the standard of umpiring is slipping. There might be lapses in concentration on the field because umpires know they can fall back on technology. While upstairs in the third umpire’s room, the men in charge might not be all too familiar with how the review system works yet and what can be considered enough evidence to overturn a decision. 

The solution is simple.

The third umpire should be allowed to interfere when he sees fit. Case in point is Stuart Broad’s massive edge which sparked the walk-don’t-walk furore. The third umpire would have had access to the Hot Spot tech, if he had immediately reviewed it and mentioned in the ear of the on-field man that there was a glaring edge, it would have saved everyone a lot of outrage over the morality of walking.

It is dumbfounding that, with millions of pounds worth of equipment at the disposal of those who make decisions in the game. The use of that equipment is instead handed over to those who play the game. Those who play the game often make their decisions based on emotions or ego. Tactical reviews, hoping the tech would fail and they’d be let off – a complete and total waste of what could be a great system.

The third umpire is watching the match from his comfortable, air-conditioned room. One assumes that he is more clear headed than the on-field umpires, but recent decisions suggest they probably aren’t. Regardless, the third umpire has access to information which the on-field umpire does not. Things like Snicko, Hot Spot and instant replays are all there for the third umpire to access.

Would it be so difficult to allow the man in the box to look at the Hot Spot from a decision like the Broad one and send a message down saying: Oi, mate, you’ve got this one wrong. Or, even better, would it be so undignified for the on-field umpire to simply ask when he is not sure?

Along with the third umpire’s interference, one glaring frailty needs to be addressed in the review system. The “Umpire’s Call” for leg-before decisions is foolish and contradictory. Unlike in tennis, even with the ball hitting the wickets, cricket still hasn’t been able to make up its mind on what is out. Yes, there are far more complicated factors to be considered in cricket, but it needs a uniformed approach. In its current state, the “umpire’s call” aspect of the system is flawed and downright silly.

You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out a simple solution. It’s pretty logical. But, logic doesn’t really go with cricket, does it?
Antoinette Muller is a freelance writer who writes mainly about soccer and cricket for The Daily Maverick or anybody else who will have her...

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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