December 5, 2012

The problem with perfection

Why the BCCI's argument about the DRS doesn't quite wash

Perhaps by way of compensation for having lately prevented anyone from pointing a camera at Indian cricket, the BCCI this week granted ESPNcricinfo exclusive access to the big cheese himself, Mr Narayanaswami "Gorgonzola" Srinivasan. In a wide-ranging interview conducted in the presidential suite of his underwater lair (anchored, for tax purposes, off the coast of an unspecified continent) Grand Admiral Srinivasan issued his latest decrees.

On the subject of the DRS, he was resolute. The BCCI do not believe in it. Not in a Richard Dawkins way; they believe that it exists. They just don't believe that it works.

"If you want to use technology, it must be perfect."

I'm not so sure. This might be a wise policy if you were building a doomsday device disguised as a pomegranate, planning an expedition to Mars, or shrinking a submarine to the size of an atom in order to explore the unexplored regions of Steven Finn's cerebrum. But this is only cricket. Are we really setting the bar at "perfection"?

Should we not try anything because it hasn't yet been perfected? Was there a stone-age Srinivasan shaking his head at the concept of a sharpened flint tied to a stick on the grounds that until they'd invented the stainless steel automatic vegetable peeler, he wasn't having anything to do with it? Did his ancestors refuse to catch the ox-drawn wagon to market, declaring that until they saw a Ferrari, they'd prefer to stick with walking, thanks?

And without wishing to be rude, you wouldn't say that perfection is the hallmark of the average cricket board. Or of anyone else in cricket. Ravi Shastri is still allowed to talk in public, even though I am far from convinced that he has perfected the art of shouting about what he can see. Monty Panesar is allowed to keep his cricket player's licence, despite having failed to perfect the art of intercepting a spherical object with his hands.

Frankly I don't believe in the BCCI's explanation for not believing in the DRS. Nor their reserve explanation about it being too expensive, or their second reserve explanation about it undermining the authority of the umpire. So what's their real problem? I've heard that they took umbrage because the DRS stole the thunder of their own version, the TDRS (Tendulkar Decision Review System) in which captains wishing to query a decision have to ring a premium-rate BCCI number and listen to a pre-recorded Sachin saying "not out".

Srinivasan also had time to explain the new scheduling strategy for India's Test team. Having your players fly around the world is a huge drain on the resources of an impoverished organisation like the BCCI. Then there's the guilt of leaving such an enormous carbon footprint, not to mention the distinct absence of silverware coming through Indian customs.

So from now on the period of time during which the Indian cricket team will be expected to be present on home soil has been extended and will run from early September to late July. His reasoning has already become known as The Srinivasan Argument and will soon be taught in the philosophy faculties of Chennai universities:

For the sake of the game, India must have a strong team. India can't have a strong team if they have to play abroad. For the sake of the game, India shouldn't play abroad.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England