Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The DRS Conundrum !!


The world of sports has been changing all over the globe and so is the technology. On field umpire’s erroneous decisions have always caused furor. It was then considered a necessity to embrace technology in order to increase the accuracy of on-field calls.
Technology has been used in numerous sports like hawk-eye technology in tennis, goal-line technology in soccer and many more. Based on these successful models, ICC finally launched the DRS in 2009. This technology has since then faced many ups and downs.

Now the question arises as to..
What exactly is DRS ?
Decision Review System (DRS) is a technological tool which allows the on field teams, both batting and fielding sides, to challenge the field umpire’s decision regarding the dismissal of the batsman which is then referred to the TV umpire.

The DRS Rules,
The DRS technology primarily consists of three components – hawk-eye, hotspot and snicko-meter. Of these, the snicko-meter technology has been discontinued. Each team is allowed to make two unsuccessful review requests per innings during a Test Match and one unsuccessful review request per innings during a One Day International. A fielding team may use the system to dispute a "not out" call and a batting team may do so to dispute an "out" call. According to the updated rules, the no. of reviews per team will be refurbished to 2 regardless of the challenges remaining after the completion of 80 overs in a test match.

The sole purpose behind the introduction of DRS was to limit the inaccurate decisions by on-field umpires. There have been numerous instances where the umpire’s calls have been the turning points in close encounters. In some of these occasions, the TV replays showed the decisions to be flawed and inaccurate.
Consider that ill-fated test series between India and Australia (2007-08 Border-Gavaskar Trophy) which was marred by numerous umpiring gaffes. For instance, a significantly loud edge by Symonds was ruled off by umpire Steve Bucknor and he went on to score a massive century. Rahul Dravid was ruled out caught behind while the replays showed he was nowhere close to the ball. These blunders were one of the major reasons that prompted the ICC to seriously consider the prospect of embracing technology.

The DRS does not guarantee a cent percent success and this has been used as a defense against the DRS technology. For example, the snicko-meter which is prime indicator of a an edge, is not used and its reliable replacement ‘Hot-spot’ technology has been known to be inaccurate in some cases as was displayed during the recent India-England test series. In addition, the method applicable to determine the trajectory of the ball in case of LBW calls has also been the center of debate. Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal expressed dissatisfaction over the Decision Review System after a semi-final of 2011 Cricket World Cup against India. He said that DRS showed the line of the ball deviating more than it actually did.

The Decision Review System has generally received positive response from players and coaches since its launch, however there have been some criticisms as well. Former umpire Dickie Bird has criticised the system, saying it undermines the authority of on-field umpires. It’s a basic human instinct. Everyone hates when one's authority is challenged. More so, if you've held a primary respectable position in the game for so many years. Cricket umpires surely are having a tough time coping with this new challenge called DRS!!
 BCCI has never been in favor of the technology questioning its credibility and accuracy.

All said and done, technology has been known to ease human effort. In Cricket too, the effective use of the DRS has proved to be useful. Umpiring errors in close matches have been kept under check. Some apprehensions have surely been raised but considering the fact that it’s the best option in assisting umpires with their decisions, its implementation has been fruitful.

Also published on Sportskeeda.

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