April 5, 2011

The DRS effect on lbw decisions

A look at how the Decision Review System has affected lbw decisions in the 2011 World Cup

The DRS: has considerably improved bowlers' chances of getting lbw decisions © Getty Images

As the 2011 World Cup tournament proceeded through its 49 matches, it became clear to me that bowlers, particularly spin bowlers, were winning many favourable lbw decisions that they would not have won in previous tournaments. I presume it is unnecessary for me to describe the process whereby a bowler, having unsuccessfully appealed for lbw, was able to have the decision re-visited, and through the microscopic examination of video footage, the initial decision was often reversed.

Using our CSW database software, I have tracked back through all World Cup tournaments since they started in 1975, and from my research, have come up with the following table:

LBW decisions in World Cups
Year Venue %lbw %lbw (quicks) %lbw (spinners)
1975 England 14.90 18.01 6.06
1979 England 12.38 14.45 0.00
1983 England 11.52 14.61 3.23
1987 Subcontinent 7.01 9.35 6.54
1992 Australasia 6.42 7.08 8.51
1996 Subcontinent 7.59 10.17 6.86
1999 England 14.24 15.15 17.44
2003 South Africa 12.40 13.33 12.89
2007 Caribbean 11.31 11.38 14.76
2011 Subcontinent 16.28 15.34 21.03
Total 11.57 12.79 12.92

The third column (%lbw) gives the number of lbw decisions as a percentage of all dismissals. Until this year, those tournaments held in England clearly gave the greatest incidence of lbw decisions as a proportion. I initially thought this might be as a result of the higher propensity of English umpires to give batsmen out lbw compared with their counterparts in other countries, but unlike the 1975, 1979 and 1983 tournaments, the 1999 event included only two English umpires of the dozen who officiated that year. One can only therefore conclude that English conditions provide a higher likelihood of players being dismissed lbw than in other countries.

The last two columns (%Qlbw and %Slbw) give the number of lbw dismissals as a percentage of all dismissals engineered by "quick" and "spin" bowlers respectively. (The category "quick" includes all bowlers from medium-pace upwards.) One can see that in early years, spin bowlers found it very difficult indeed to win an lbw decision from umpires. In fact, in the first three World Cups, there were only four lbw decisions given to spin bowlers in total, with none at all in 1979! The removal of the tournament to the sub-continent in 1987 doubled the chance of spin bowlers winning lbw decisions, and there was a significant jump again in the 1999 event. This year, there has been an almost 50% rise in the proportion of dismissals won by lbw decisions for spin bowlers compared with the 2007 World Cup, and for the first time, more than one in five dismissals have been earned this way for these bowlers.

The DRS has clearly shown that umpires have been too conservative in considering lbw appeals in the past, and that batsmen have been getting away with murder for years! The higher incidence of lbw dismissals for both spin and quick bowlers is a result not only of the direct intervention of video replays, but also, in all probability, of a realisation by umpires that they are safer in giving out what they originally would have considered to be marginal decisions only a year or two ago. I recall many referrals in this last World Cup by batsmen given out lbw in the hope they would be reprieved- but weren't.

With batsmen now being at greater risk in being given out lbw at the top level, it will be interesting to see what batsmen will do to counter this danger. Presumably playing straighter, and less "across the line" will be a first strategy, but also coming down the wicket more might be an effective counter. We may expect more stumpings as a result! It is fascinating to watch the game continually evolving.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on April 7, 2011, 9:17 GMT

    Ha. Mr.Finlay I guess my previous comment didn't quite pass muster. So, I'll abbreviate it:

    To all our Pakistani friends. Hawk-eye has provided an explanation for the “Tendulkar-Ajmal gate” issue. (available here on cricinfo as well)

    I'm the "first" Abhi

  • testli5504537 on April 7, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    the invention of 'doosra' since 1999 and quality of spinners available in last 4 world cups in warne, saqlain, maurli, kumble is the key factor in more %age of lbw decisions by spin bowlers

  • testli5504537 on April 7, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    I agree that spinners have increased their chances of getting LBWs in their favor with DRS in place. One important aspect that this table is not looking into is how many overs spinners and quicks bowled in each world cup. For example, in 2011 a lot of teams came prepared with spinners to play on turning sub-continent pitches, so they bowled a lot more overs compared to previous versions.. hence, chances of getting LBW also got increased...

  • testli5504537 on April 6, 2011, 23:29 GMT

    MR.Ric Finlay what do you have to say about the Sachin Tendulkar LBW decision against pakistan during the semi-final.

    Ric: Absolutely nothing! It has very little to do with my article!

  • testli5504537 on April 6, 2011, 21:57 GMT

    May be I missed it in the analysis but is percent of spin LBWs correlated to number of spinners that played (versus quicks) ? One would think it might be simpler to obtain per capita LBW (vis-a-vis quicks). Or figure out average LBWs per spinner vs quick. Between different WCs thru the years one could look at coeff of variation. Am no statistician so pardon any errors on my part and am barking up the wrong tree ! Interesting article though. Tx

    Ric: No, the percentage of spin lbws does not depend on the number of spinners, because of the fact that it is a percentage (of all spinners' wickets), not an absolute figure. Using the number of spinners as a base figure is susceptible to distortion, but another way of doing it would be to compare spinners' lbws to the number of balls bowled by spinners, and track that over time.

  • testli5504537 on April 6, 2011, 18:39 GMT

    @ Naeem -- conspiracy theories require too many people to be complicit on the fly. How do you plan tampering with software on the fly so an lbw decision on Sachin misses the stumps by a shade. Clearly, he just got lucky, and Ajmal was unlucky. Rather than focusing on the shortcomings of the technology, Pak might want to focus on their fielding. You don't give Sachin 4 reprieves and expect to win a game.

  • testli5504537 on April 6, 2011, 18:30 GMT

    Interesting observation. But i would like to add one more point . maybe the LBW decisions are more because of increase in number of tweakers. Bowlers who ball slow rely on line and length and do not turn the ball a lot . Yuvraaj singh, Mohammad hafeez, entire Zimbabwe team for instance. Clearly they will have a better chance of getting LBW. If one can differentiate ( a difficult task) tweakers and spinners perhaps a better idea of the impact of UDRS may be obtained . Perhaps a less conclusive but easier way could be to take into account only one frontline spinner from every team and then calculate teir LBW % across all world cups. What say?

  • testli5504537 on April 6, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    Ric, Your article concerns LBW decisions in world cup alone. What i asked was all ODIS. More accurately, what is the % of LBW decisions in all ODIs in 1970s, 1980s, 1990s,2000s and the last 1.5 years since DRS system.

    Ric: An idea for a future article - thanks!

  • testli5504537 on April 6, 2011, 14:46 GMT

    It wud be interesting to know what wud be the % without DRS in 2011 WC. I was hoping to see that stat here. That wud give us the exact change due to DRS.

    Ric: Good point. Someone with more time than me might like to trawl through the matches and find out this stat!

  • testli5504537 on April 6, 2011, 13:43 GMT

    Funny to see someones claim that Sachins LBW was to help India. I never heard such a dumb comment. I just wonder how can that software identify it as Sachin and change the actual graphics and produce a fake one!!!. Do you have such software's with you to support a particular person? Also, he game you 3 more chances and you were not able to hold them. So, that too a help from your players??

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