July 26, 2013

The DRS problem: it's not the humans

It's the flaws in the system, and not the shortcomings of those who use it, that are to blame
29

The controversial Trott decision: what many observers don't get is that it wasn't actually the third umpire who made the final call © PA Photos

The DRS is a system in which umpiring decisions can be reviewed by players. Events on the field can also be reviewed by umpires in some circumstances before a decision is made. A widely held view about recent problems with the system is that while the DRS is fine, the way it is used by players, and on occasion by umpires, has caused difficulties.

I hold the view that the problem, if there is one, is with the system, not with the way it is used. The way the system is defined strictly determines the way it is used.

The DRS system I refer to is described in detail by the ICC in its Playing Handbook (pdf). It is worth clearing up a few misconceptions at the outset.

The TV umpire does not overturn a decision under the DRS. The TV umpire is explicitly prohibited from discussing whether or not a particular appeal should result in an out or a not out. Further, there is no standard in the DRS requiring "conclusive evidence to the contrary" to overturn a decision, as many commentators are fond of telling us.

The rules make only three points. First, the TV umpire must limit himself to the facts. Second, if some of the evidence requested by the umpire on the field does not permit a conclusion with "a high degree of confidence", the TV umpire should convey to the umpire on the field that a conclusive answer is not possible (the conclusion in this case is not the decision itself but about individual points of fact potentially influencing it). Finally, if some information is not available to the TV umpire, he is required to report this to the on-field umpire. He is also required to provide all other evidence requested by the on-field umpire. If we go by the ICC's DRS rules, at no point in the review process is the TV umpire required to provide a definitive conclusion by putting together all the evidence.

The Guardian reported that the ICC did admit to a protocol error in the way the umpires addressed Australia's review in Jonathan Trott's first-ball lbw dismissal in the second innings at Trent Bridge. The ICC has declined to say what the protocol error was, citing a long-standing policy of not revealing communication between umpires. A number of observers think that the absence of one Hot Spot camera angle should have automatically meant that the outcome of the review should have been inconclusive, allowing Dar's original not-out decision to stand. I think this is a misreading of the ICC's DRS rules.

Let's reconstruct the case of Trott. Umpire Erasmus in the TV umpire's box would not be asked "Is Trott LBW?", or even "Did Trott hit the ball with the bat?" Going by the ICC's rules, he would be asked a different series of questions. Does Hot Spot show a touch? No. Does the replay show a touch? Inconclusive. No clear evidence of a deviation. (Some people have argued that there was evidence of deviation on the replay. I disagree. As did Michael Atherton on live commentary.) Does the square-of-the-wicket Hot Spot show a touch? This angle is unavailable. Can you hear any relevant sound on the stump microphone? Inconclusive. Did the ball pitch in line? Yes. Did it hit the pads in line? Yes. Does the ball-track predict that it would have hit the stumps? Yes.

According to the rules, Erasmus would be prevented from providing probabilities or maybes. It would have to be yes, no, or can't say. After getting all these factual responses from Erasmus, Dar would have to make up his mind. Did what he heard from Erasmus merit reversal? As we know, he decided that it did. The protocol error could have been that Erasmus neglected to mention that one of the Hot Spot angles was unavailable. It could also have been that Dar weighed all the facts Erasmus provided to him incorrectly and reached the wrong conclusion, though it is difficult to construe this last possibility as a protocol error, since the protocol explicitly requires the on-field umpire to exercise judgement, which is what Dar did. "The on-field umpire must then make his decision based on those factual questions that were answered by the third umpire, any other factual information offered by the third umpire and his recollection and opinion of the original incident" (See 3.3[k] of Appendix 2 of the Standard Test Match Playing Conditions, ICC Playing Handbook 2012-13).

This is the central faultline in the understanding of the DRS. To some technophiles, it promises an end to interpretation; that, with the DRS, there is to be no more "in the opinion of the umpire". Technology will show everything clearly - make every decision self-evident.

Not so. Under the DRS, a judgement has to be made about whether or not evidence is conclusive. A judgement also has to be made about whether all the evidence (often conflicting, due to the limitations of the technologies involved), taken together, merits a reversal. There have been instances where outside edges have been ruled to have occurred, though there was no heat signature on the bat.

The ICC has consistently insisted that the idea is not to render umpires obsolete. It is right, but in a convoluted way. What the DRS does is allow umpires a limited, strictly defined second look at an event. But it does so on the players' terms. Umpires are currently not allowed to review a decision after it has been made on the field. The "umpire review" element of the DRS takes place before the decision is made on the field in the first instance. Simon Taufel, who has wide experience of both DRS and non-DRS international matches, has questioned whether this is reasonable.

So far, the DRS has been badly burnt in the ongoing Ashes, and has received criticism from some unexpected quarters. Add to this a recent report that a few boards other than India's also oppose it. I suspect that the DRS will not survive in its present form for long.

The ICC is experimenting with real-time replays, which it says will allow TV umpires to initiate reviews. The ICC has long claimed that this is currently not done because it will waste time. The ICC's statistics suggest that in an average DRS Test match, 49 umpiring decisions are made (a decision is said to be made when an appeal from the fielding side is answered). Let's say an average Test lasts 12 sessions. This suggests that on average about four appeals are made per session of Test cricket when the DRS is employed. These numbers don't suggest that allowing umpires to initiate reviews will result in too much extra wasted time, do they? It should be kept in mind, though, that the ICC assesses time wasted relative to the progress of the game, and not simply as a measure in seconds or minutes.

The most damaging consequence of the DRS is off the field. It has now become a point of debate among professional observers of cricket about whether dismissals are determined by the umpire. The idea that the umpire is an expert whose role it is to exercise judgement, and whose judgement is to be respected, is now only superficially true. Time and again, eminently reasonable lbw decisions are reversed for fractions, and as a result are considered clear mistakes. Cricket has lost the ability to appreciate the close decision, the marginal event. It has lost the essential sporting capacity to concede that an event on the field is so close that perhaps a decision in favour of the opposition is reasonable.

Kartikeya Date writes at A Cricketing View and tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kartikeya on July 26, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    I'll try to respond to some of these points as best I can.

    1. The point was to clarify the way DRS actually works, as opposed to the way we are continuously told it works by TV Umpires (this consists mainly of two points - (a) that TV umpires reverse or uphold on-field decisions, (b) that the rules require that unless the technology makes it self-evidence that the original decision be reversed, the decision has to stand. The rules only say that the umpire has to be satisfied that the decision has to stand.

    2. That all current evidence points to the fact that the system is likely to change, and that more people (cricketers, administrators, umpires) are dissatisfied with the system than at any time in the past. This suggests to me that the system will change in the very near future.

  • IndianSRTfan on July 28, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    @Posted by Tom Beresford on (July 27, 2013, 9:39 GMT): I never said edges are/will be distributed evenly between three types. I merely pointed that there can be three types in which an edge can be categorized into. Subsequent explanation was to rectify the perception that "my mathematics is seriously flawed and quite ridiculous"

    I'm not opposed to the use of technology and have said that I agree that we need a Decision Review System. But the current combo of HS and ball tracking are not robust enough and it is my opinion that sooner we find a better alternative to the technology currently used, the better it will be for Cricket. Don't understand the logic of supporting current technology no matter what rather than accepting the fact that better technical tools need to be deployed.

  • kartikeya on July 27, 2013, 21:15 GMT

    I should also clear up one point I saw in the comments about time wasting.

    The umpires are currently required by the rules to check for a no-ball after every dismissal in which a no-ball would preclude the dismissal. They do not do so out of the choice. The rule was introduced for the 2012-13 playing year, which, for ICC starts on October 1 2012 and ends of September 30 2013.

  • balajik1968 on July 27, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Tom Beresford, I do know that you cannot be given out if you are struck on the pads by a ball pitched outside the line of the stumps. I am just looking at the paradox in this case, where the batsman could have saved his wicket by padding up.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on July 27, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    Very well written article. Kartikeya clearly succeeded to elobrate how DRS works by rule and how it fails in current process and what role does TV umpire play in this process contrary to what we have heared all there days from commentators. Well done.

  • MrBrightside92 on July 27, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    I don't usually comment but I do get frustrated from the continual negativity of DRS. No ex Australian or current Australian mentioned a DRS problem before the Ashes. Why not? Secondly, why all the focus on the bad decisions? What about the good ones? Chris Rodgers 'edge' to Prior. I saw it on TV live and I thought it was out. Dharmasana gave it out. Reviewed. Clearly hitting the pad. Overturned. No comment from anyone. Finally, where is all the writer's evidence coming from? Perhaps using DRS in a live game? I am a big DRS fan and I know it's not perfect but it's not ONE reason for it being challenged. Both the technology and subjective interpretation can be argued against. But improvements in it's implementation can only come with it being used. All fans hate it when the wrong decision is made. Maybe with DRS India may have finally won a test series in Oz?

  • on July 27, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    balajik1968, I would think you should learn the rules of the game before you comment, if ball pitches outside leg stump it is not out if it hits the batsman's pads and if the ball strikes the batsman's pads outside the line of the stumps while playing a shot that too is not out, regardless of whether the ball would go on and hit the stumps, whether the umpire or DRS predicts it will. IndianSRTfan, edges are not distributed evenly between 3 types!! Without DRS in the current Ashes series there would have been more errors. The use of DRS has improved decision making, so ergo is a good think.

  • IndianSRTfan on July 27, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    I request you to read my comments carefully. You're merely talking numbers about a disputed edge. I was talking about an event, i.e. there being an edge of which there can be 3 possible types i.e. 1.Clear edge 2. Inconclusive edge(bat/pad too close to determine the precedence) 3.Thin (disputed to use your word) edge.

    First type of an edge doesn't need HS. In case of second type, even if HS is used, it can not be conclusive. The third type, the disputed/thin edge, is the only type of edge for which HS can be effectively used and assumes any meaning for it can prove/disprove existence of an edge.

    So out of three types of edges, HS is effective to be OPERATED for only one type, the third one. So one in three ergo for only 33.33% of total edges of all types that there can exist in a situation, HS may be of any assistance and use.

    My contention was not based on whether or not HS shows evidence an edge when there is/isn't one. Its based on overall usability of us the system.

  • IndianSRTfan on July 27, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 27, 2013, 6:32 GMT): I request you to read my comments carefully. You're merely talking numbers about a disputed edge. I was talking about an event, i.e. there being an edge of which there can be 3 possible types i.e. 1.Clear edge 2. Inconclusive edge(bat/pad too close to determine the precedence) 3.Thin (disputed to use your word) edge.

    First type of an edge doesn't need HS. In case of second type, even if HS is used, it can not be conclusive. The third type, the disputed/thin edge, is the only type of an edge for which Hotspot can be effectively used and assumes any meaning for it can prove/disprove existence of an edge.

    So out of three types of edges, HS is effective to be OPERATED for only one type, the third one. So one in three ergo for only 33.33% of total edges of all types that there can exist in a situation, HS may be of any assistance and use.

    My contention was not based on whether or not HS shows evidence an edge when there is/isn't one.

  • jmcilhinney on July 27, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    @IndianSRTfan on (July 26, 2013, 23:54 GMT), your mathematics is seriously flawed and quite ridiculous. To say that HotSpot has an effectiveness of less than 33% is to say that in at least 7 out of 10 case where there is a disputed edge, HotSpot gets it wrong. Is that what you're really saying? HotSpot is more like 99% effective in that 99 times out 100 it will show evidence of an edge if there is one and won't if there isn't. The reality is probably more than 99%. Even if we reduce the sample size to just disputed edges, the accuracy is still very high. There are two instances in this current Ashes series where a possible edge was not detected but instances where HotSpot does not back up other evidence is rare and, in such cases, the umpire is unlikely to give the batsman out anyway. There's no loss and that could hardly be considered a howler anyway. We've also seen otherwise undetected edges confirmed by HotSpot, so there is a net gain there.

  • kartikeya on July 26, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    I'll try to respond to some of these points as best I can.

    1. The point was to clarify the way DRS actually works, as opposed to the way we are continuously told it works by TV Umpires (this consists mainly of two points - (a) that TV umpires reverse or uphold on-field decisions, (b) that the rules require that unless the technology makes it self-evidence that the original decision be reversed, the decision has to stand. The rules only say that the umpire has to be satisfied that the decision has to stand.

    2. That all current evidence points to the fact that the system is likely to change, and that more people (cricketers, administrators, umpires) are dissatisfied with the system than at any time in the past. This suggests to me that the system will change in the very near future.

  • IndianSRTfan on July 28, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    @Posted by Tom Beresford on (July 27, 2013, 9:39 GMT): I never said edges are/will be distributed evenly between three types. I merely pointed that there can be three types in which an edge can be categorized into. Subsequent explanation was to rectify the perception that "my mathematics is seriously flawed and quite ridiculous"

    I'm not opposed to the use of technology and have said that I agree that we need a Decision Review System. But the current combo of HS and ball tracking are not robust enough and it is my opinion that sooner we find a better alternative to the technology currently used, the better it will be for Cricket. Don't understand the logic of supporting current technology no matter what rather than accepting the fact that better technical tools need to be deployed.

  • kartikeya on July 27, 2013, 21:15 GMT

    I should also clear up one point I saw in the comments about time wasting.

    The umpires are currently required by the rules to check for a no-ball after every dismissal in which a no-ball would preclude the dismissal. They do not do so out of the choice. The rule was introduced for the 2012-13 playing year, which, for ICC starts on October 1 2012 and ends of September 30 2013.

  • balajik1968 on July 27, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    Tom Beresford, I do know that you cannot be given out if you are struck on the pads by a ball pitched outside the line of the stumps. I am just looking at the paradox in this case, where the batsman could have saved his wicket by padding up.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on July 27, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    Very well written article. Kartikeya clearly succeeded to elobrate how DRS works by rule and how it fails in current process and what role does TV umpire play in this process contrary to what we have heared all there days from commentators. Well done.

  • MrBrightside92 on July 27, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    I don't usually comment but I do get frustrated from the continual negativity of DRS. No ex Australian or current Australian mentioned a DRS problem before the Ashes. Why not? Secondly, why all the focus on the bad decisions? What about the good ones? Chris Rodgers 'edge' to Prior. I saw it on TV live and I thought it was out. Dharmasana gave it out. Reviewed. Clearly hitting the pad. Overturned. No comment from anyone. Finally, where is all the writer's evidence coming from? Perhaps using DRS in a live game? I am a big DRS fan and I know it's not perfect but it's not ONE reason for it being challenged. Both the technology and subjective interpretation can be argued against. But improvements in it's implementation can only come with it being used. All fans hate it when the wrong decision is made. Maybe with DRS India may have finally won a test series in Oz?

  • on July 27, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    balajik1968, I would think you should learn the rules of the game before you comment, if ball pitches outside leg stump it is not out if it hits the batsman's pads and if the ball strikes the batsman's pads outside the line of the stumps while playing a shot that too is not out, regardless of whether the ball would go on and hit the stumps, whether the umpire or DRS predicts it will. IndianSRTfan, edges are not distributed evenly between 3 types!! Without DRS in the current Ashes series there would have been more errors. The use of DRS has improved decision making, so ergo is a good think.

  • IndianSRTfan on July 27, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    I request you to read my comments carefully. You're merely talking numbers about a disputed edge. I was talking about an event, i.e. there being an edge of which there can be 3 possible types i.e. 1.Clear edge 2. Inconclusive edge(bat/pad too close to determine the precedence) 3.Thin (disputed to use your word) edge.

    First type of an edge doesn't need HS. In case of second type, even if HS is used, it can not be conclusive. The third type, the disputed/thin edge, is the only type of edge for which HS can be effectively used and assumes any meaning for it can prove/disprove existence of an edge.

    So out of three types of edges, HS is effective to be OPERATED for only one type, the third one. So one in three ergo for only 33.33% of total edges of all types that there can exist in a situation, HS may be of any assistance and use.

    My contention was not based on whether or not HS shows evidence an edge when there is/isn't one. Its based on overall usability of us the system.

  • IndianSRTfan on July 27, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 27, 2013, 6:32 GMT): I request you to read my comments carefully. You're merely talking numbers about a disputed edge. I was talking about an event, i.e. there being an edge of which there can be 3 possible types i.e. 1.Clear edge 2. Inconclusive edge(bat/pad too close to determine the precedence) 3.Thin (disputed to use your word) edge.

    First type of an edge doesn't need HS. In case of second type, even if HS is used, it can not be conclusive. The third type, the disputed/thin edge, is the only type of an edge for which Hotspot can be effectively used and assumes any meaning for it can prove/disprove existence of an edge.

    So out of three types of edges, HS is effective to be OPERATED for only one type, the third one. So one in three ergo for only 33.33% of total edges of all types that there can exist in a situation, HS may be of any assistance and use.

    My contention was not based on whether or not HS shows evidence an edge when there is/isn't one.

  • jmcilhinney on July 27, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    @IndianSRTfan on (July 26, 2013, 23:54 GMT), your mathematics is seriously flawed and quite ridiculous. To say that HotSpot has an effectiveness of less than 33% is to say that in at least 7 out of 10 case where there is a disputed edge, HotSpot gets it wrong. Is that what you're really saying? HotSpot is more like 99% effective in that 99 times out 100 it will show evidence of an edge if there is one and won't if there isn't. The reality is probably more than 99%. Even if we reduce the sample size to just disputed edges, the accuracy is still very high. There are two instances in this current Ashes series where a possible edge was not detected but instances where HotSpot does not back up other evidence is rare and, in such cases, the umpire is unlikely to give the batsman out anyway. There's no loss and that could hardly be considered a howler anyway. We've also seen otherwise undetected edges confirmed by HotSpot, so there is a net gain there.

  • on July 27, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    @Tom Beresford - the argument the author makes is his own ,and stands as such. Just because he is Indian doesn't mean he is pandering to the BCCI stance - such an accusation unfairly casts aspersions on his motives - should Indians not write their own opinions about DRS? There are over a billion of us, you know!

  • balajik1968 on July 27, 2013, 4:28 GMT

    Tom Beresford, that is the precise point. Gatting lost his off stump to a ball pitched outside leg. Hawkeye would have denied Warne. Another person who may have suffered at the hands of Hawkeye, would have been Imran, someone who got huge movement at pace. The ball with which he bowled GR Vishwanath in Lahore in 1982 rivalled Warne's dismissal of Gatting. If there are any Pakistani fans who are reading this, please try to get the footage and share it.

  • balajik1968 on July 27, 2013, 4:11 GMT

    Tom Beresford, there was something which I missed out on. In the India Pakistan 1982-83 series, Imran came back for his 2nd spell with India 2 down for 100 and he killed the match with a tremendous display of pace and swing. The ball that got Viswanath pitched on the edge of the rectangle and took out his off stump. I would like to see how Hawkeye deals with bowlers who move the ball that big. Of course we don't see such big swing nowadays. BTW nobody responded to my point of extensive trials in the domestic area. Nobody has also touched on the affordability aspect. Let's face it, SL have problems paying salaries, Windies, nobody knows how sound they are financially. Pakistan has not played at home for 4 years. Where are they going to find the money? DRS divides the cricket world between haves and have-nots, and that is my primary objection.

  • gdalvi on July 27, 2013, 3:58 GMT

    I am always amused by the way the English are trying to defend DRS even in face of contrary evidence and then accuse others of BCCI pandering when they themselves are guilty of ECB pandering. Some are faking not understanding the point of article - the point, clearly articulated by author is that contrary to general understanding, the DRS decision is still a subjective decision made by humans. This is precisely what Dhoni was arguing - once it is given for referral, the decision should be unbiased- completely based on evidence on hand using unambiguous sets of decision rules - not again another human judgement applied on top of it. Example is Dravid's dismissal - Hot Spot said no - yet given out???

  • IndianSRTfan on July 26, 2013, 23:58 GMT

    Contd..So the predictive part where ball has a long way to go before hitting the stumps is not at all foolproof. Even if we leave atmospheric and pitch conditions out of consideration, in a highly regarded article in a peer-reviewed journal, Mr. Collins and Mr. Evans have shown that Hawk-Eye struggles with predicting the trajectory of a cricket ball after bouncing when the time between a ball bouncing and striking the batsman may be too short to generate the three frames (at least) needed to plot a curve accurately.

    So to sum up this rather long explanation, my statement that current technology has glaring faults and is error-prone is not at all "a gross exaggeration". Just because you're only aware of a couple of instances where it genuinely appeared that ball-tracking may have been incorrect and there were mitigating factors involved does not mean technology is spot-on.

    That we need a review system is something I agree with but saying current system is adequate is wistful thinking

  • IndianSRTfan on July 26, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    Contd....For first 2 types hotspot is not needed (clear edge) and not sufficient (bat-pad almost simultaneously) respectively. So that's 66.66% of times the use of hotspot is unnecessary/not sufficient. Now out of the remaining 33.33%, there is a chance, however small, that thin edge might not be detected. I'm sorry but less than 33% effectiveness for any technology is not acceptable.

    Second issue is ball tracking technology. It has two parts i.e. Actual and predicted path. System operates using only the visual images and timing data provided by high-speed video cameras located at different locations and angles around the stadium. Nowhere does this system take into account the atmospheric and pitch conditions. Being a Caltech doctoral candidate for experimental physics, I can assure you I've researched enough material to know about the laminar and turbulent air flows and Magnus effect which affect ball movement all the time and Hawk-Eye doesn't take any of these into account....Contd

  • IndianSRTfan on July 26, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    @Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 26, 2013, 9:29 GMT): So "technology is in fact quite adequate" just because you say so? Allow me to explain the basis for my views in a little more detail before you pronounce them to be rubbish. I just hope all these comments get published coz it won't fit in 1000 characters.

    Like most DRS supporters you seem to have ignored my main point that DRS fails to satisfy its main purpose, i.e. to get rid of howlers, far too many times to be desirable. However that's not what I want to discuss here.

    Coming to the technology part, you claim hotspot may only fail in case of thinnest of edges. How many types of edges are there? Only three acc to me 1. The clearly obvious edge. 2. Inconclusive edge where it's impossible to determine if the ball hit pad or bat first. 3. Thin edges (which you agree may not be detected at all times) Since pro-DRS fans always throw out numbers and percentages of correct decisions etc. how about if we look at percentages here..Contd

  • gtr800 on July 26, 2013, 22:39 GMT

    I totally agree with this article & further I believe that the ball tracking nature of the DRS should be looked in further. It still needs work- the potential Ian Bell lbw from Shane Watson in the first test in the 2nd innings looked plumb- or at least clipping. And it was shown to be not out. The ball was tracked to have 'slightly' swung in and deviated of the surface- while in reality it looks to be swinging a fair bit and deviating not much. This meant that DRS predicted it wrong. Also, the procedure to give batsmen out or not out on umpires call is pure garbage. Soo many decisions went against Australia in the 1st test match, in that regard. It needs to be changed to something more consistent.

  • on July 26, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    This is a poor argument pandering I think to the BCCI's stance on DRS. DRS has worked well in the current Ashes series and by and large the number of correct decisions being made are greater than would have been the case without DRS. It isn't perfect but it is progress, 2 decisions I have issues with one of which ICC has come clean was down to human error. balajik1968, with respect to Warne's ball of the century, if Gatting had padded up of course it would have been give not out, it pitched a foot outside his leg stump and would not have needed DRS to help the umpire, I hope, and if needed DRS would have correctly given it not out.

  • DaGameChanger on July 26, 2013, 17:23 GMT

    @Balaji..I disagree with you on decision of Bell or Tendulkar. Bell got bailed out on technical detail of 2.5m rule but DRS was absolutely correct in Tendulkar. Many blind fans was seeing it as plumb which it clearly was not because..it was either clipping leg stump very marginally or missing it. How many times you have seen a ball when you think how did it miss the stumps. Just because technology can detect to very close to millimeters, you think otherwise.

  • Maddy83 on July 26, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    IMO prudent use of the DRS can be achieved if teams are allowed to carry over unsed reviews to the next inning in a test match

  • on July 26, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    I find the point of view of this article baffling to begin with, but one clear way in which it is peddling misconceptions based on a wrong-headed interpretation of statistics is in its penultimate paragraph. Judging by the way umpires check for no-balls seemingly at the fall of every wicket, it would seem more likely that they would instigate reviews in all but the very clearest cut of dismissals and appeals. The great advantage of putting the decision to review in players' hands - alongside two chances to get it wrong - is that it removes the pressure the umpire would come under to use it after many appeals that he currently rejects.<br> <br> If players use it correctly (ie. only to try to have the decisions they deem most likely to be erroneous overturned), the system works very well. At present it seems that England have learnt to use it well and Australia are exemplifying how not to use it. The faults are definitely with the humans.

  • on July 26, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    I've said it a few times now, supply the umpires on teh filed with iPads/tablets and let them view the DRS system themselves. Thereby making a INFORMED decision based both on the actual happening and the added benefit of the review system. 1 call 1 person.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on July 26, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    Off course it's the humans .DRS has again vindicated the success of technology and the greater no. of right decisions in spite of the best efforts of misuse of the sytem at various times by a clueless fielding captain ,an opener of the same team who as compulsively gets himself LB is likely to waste his teams review on 1 -himself rather - and find his mates wanting when need arises. In spite of so much debate , DRS got and bettered the onfield umps. by a clear margin of 5 % .This would have been even higher if the some had shone better discretion with reviews not wasting it. The facts don't lie . In spite of 'DRS failing' it has far exceeded the correct decisions , you can guess how many it gets right when we hear no word about it , which is most times !

  • on July 26, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Those DRS decisions in the World Cup were not wrong it is just that the hysterical Indian media didn't understand why the ball tracking looked odd. The ball tracking looked odd because the bowlers were bowling from very wide on the crease. It might not have looked out but it was it was just that the angle involved made it look odd. Look at the replays.

    Personally I think the current DRS system is quite good but that the 2 referrals should be reduced to 1 to stop teams using the system tactically. With only 1 referral teams would only use it if they were certain the decision wasn't correct. The overriding doctrine of DRS should be that the benefit of the doubt should always go in favour of the umpires original decision.

  • balajik1968 on July 26, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    There are a few problems with the DRS. The biggest one is affordability. As of now, only India, England, Australia and South Africa can afford to have DRS through a series. The other is the predictive aspect. As Bedi put it today, if Gatting had padded up to Warne's "Ball of the Century", Hawkeye would possibly have ruled him not out. I think Hawkeye got it wrong during the 2011 World Cup, both in the case of Bell in the India England match and the India Pakistan semi-final(the Tendulkar LBW). My take on the DRS; ICC should trial it in domestic cricket all over the world. Do an exhaustive SWOT analysis. Look into the affordability aspect. Evolve clear guidelines. Educate players and umpires. Implement. Right now broadcasters seem to be calling the shots.

  • jmcilhinney on July 26, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    @IndianSRTfan on (July 26, 2013, 8:30 GMT), rubbish! The technology is not "by no means adequate" just because you say so. It is in fact quite adequate. To say that it has glaring faults and is error-prone is a gross exaggeration. HotSpot does exactly what it's supposed but if there's no heat to detect then it can't detect it. That will only be the case for the thinnest of edges though, many of which are missed by standing umpires anyway. As for ball-tracking, I'm only aware of a couple of instances where it genuinely appears that ball-tracking may have been incorrect and there are mitigating factors involved. How many times have standing umpires got it wrong? I agree that the procedures could be improved but that is easy to do and the BCCI could help that happen rather than fighting DRS in its entirety.

  • jmcilhinney on July 26, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    One issue I have with the DRS debate is the fact that, as I read it, the BCCI's original objections were related to inaccuracies and/or inconsistencies in the technology used but now, any time there is a DRS-related issue, all the detractors come out of the woodwork and say that it vindicates the BCCI's stance, which is simply not the case. I really do think that the issues with DRS have been blown out of all proportions in the current Ashes series. As far as I can see, there are only two genuine DRS issues from the two Tests so far: Trott LBW in game 1 and Agar caught behind in game 2. In both cases, I don't believe that there was sufficient evidence to change the original decision. In all other cases, DRS did it's job or would have had the players not wasted reviews (review wasted on Bairstow LBW so Broad caught behind not reviewed) or failed to invoke them when they had them (Rogers LBW).

  • IndianSRTfan on July 26, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    A very well written article. Very thought provoking as well. DRS as a system has far too many possible points of failure. Main purpose of the system was to eliminate howlers and yet we repeatedly find ourselves in a position where a howler is allowed to pass through and yet time is spent on reviewing marginal decisions, which incidentally can go either way depending on the on-field umpire's decision. So in a nutshell, howlers may or may not be corrected whereas fractions may change a reasonable decision. That is contradictory to the very purpose of DRS being put in operation.

    I think failure of DRS is due to two reasons: 1. Technology is by no means adequate. Hot-Spot and Ball tracking both have glaring faults and are error prone. 2. The operating procedure which, considering the fact that technology is inadequate, is not streamlined at all. Simply too many complications with bizarre restrictions.

    So it's time to look towards better options. Both technological and procedural.

  • IndianSRTfan on July 26, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    A very well written article. Very thought provoking as well. DRS as a system has far too many possible points of failure. Main purpose of the system was to eliminate howlers and yet we repeatedly find ourselves in a position where a howler is allowed to pass through and yet time is spent on reviewing marginal decisions, which incidentally can go either way depending on the on-field umpire's decision. So in a nutshell, howlers may or may not be corrected whereas fractions may change a reasonable decision. That is contradictory to the very purpose of DRS being put in operation.

    I think failure of DRS is due to two reasons: 1. Technology is by no means adequate. Hot-Spot and Ball tracking both have glaring faults and are error prone. 2. The operating procedure which, considering the fact that technology is inadequate, is not streamlined at all. Simply too many complications with bizarre restrictions.

    So it's time to look towards better options. Both technological and procedural.

  • jmcilhinney on July 26, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    One issue I have with the DRS debate is the fact that, as I read it, the BCCI's original objections were related to inaccuracies and/or inconsistencies in the technology used but now, any time there is a DRS-related issue, all the detractors come out of the woodwork and say that it vindicates the BCCI's stance, which is simply not the case. I really do think that the issues with DRS have been blown out of all proportions in the current Ashes series. As far as I can see, there are only two genuine DRS issues from the two Tests so far: Trott LBW in game 1 and Agar caught behind in game 2. In both cases, I don't believe that there was sufficient evidence to change the original decision. In all other cases, DRS did it's job or would have had the players not wasted reviews (review wasted on Bairstow LBW so Broad caught behind not reviewed) or failed to invoke them when they had them (Rogers LBW).

  • jmcilhinney on July 26, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    @IndianSRTfan on (July 26, 2013, 8:30 GMT), rubbish! The technology is not "by no means adequate" just because you say so. It is in fact quite adequate. To say that it has glaring faults and is error-prone is a gross exaggeration. HotSpot does exactly what it's supposed but if there's no heat to detect then it can't detect it. That will only be the case for the thinnest of edges though, many of which are missed by standing umpires anyway. As for ball-tracking, I'm only aware of a couple of instances where it genuinely appears that ball-tracking may have been incorrect and there are mitigating factors involved. How many times have standing umpires got it wrong? I agree that the procedures could be improved but that is easy to do and the BCCI could help that happen rather than fighting DRS in its entirety.

  • balajik1968 on July 26, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    There are a few problems with the DRS. The biggest one is affordability. As of now, only India, England, Australia and South Africa can afford to have DRS through a series. The other is the predictive aspect. As Bedi put it today, if Gatting had padded up to Warne's "Ball of the Century", Hawkeye would possibly have ruled him not out. I think Hawkeye got it wrong during the 2011 World Cup, both in the case of Bell in the India England match and the India Pakistan semi-final(the Tendulkar LBW). My take on the DRS; ICC should trial it in domestic cricket all over the world. Do an exhaustive SWOT analysis. Look into the affordability aspect. Evolve clear guidelines. Educate players and umpires. Implement. Right now broadcasters seem to be calling the shots.

  • on July 26, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    Those DRS decisions in the World Cup were not wrong it is just that the hysterical Indian media didn't understand why the ball tracking looked odd. The ball tracking looked odd because the bowlers were bowling from very wide on the crease. It might not have looked out but it was it was just that the angle involved made it look odd. Look at the replays.

    Personally I think the current DRS system is quite good but that the 2 referrals should be reduced to 1 to stop teams using the system tactically. With only 1 referral teams would only use it if they were certain the decision wasn't correct. The overriding doctrine of DRS should be that the benefit of the doubt should always go in favour of the umpires original decision.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on July 26, 2013, 11:20 GMT

    Off course it's the humans .DRS has again vindicated the success of technology and the greater no. of right decisions in spite of the best efforts of misuse of the sytem at various times by a clueless fielding captain ,an opener of the same team who as compulsively gets himself LB is likely to waste his teams review on 1 -himself rather - and find his mates wanting when need arises. In spite of so much debate , DRS got and bettered the onfield umps. by a clear margin of 5 % .This would have been even higher if the some had shone better discretion with reviews not wasting it. The facts don't lie . In spite of 'DRS failing' it has far exceeded the correct decisions , you can guess how many it gets right when we hear no word about it , which is most times !

  • on July 26, 2013, 13:33 GMT

    I've said it a few times now, supply the umpires on teh filed with iPads/tablets and let them view the DRS system themselves. Thereby making a INFORMED decision based both on the actual happening and the added benefit of the review system. 1 call 1 person.

  • on July 26, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    I find the point of view of this article baffling to begin with, but one clear way in which it is peddling misconceptions based on a wrong-headed interpretation of statistics is in its penultimate paragraph. Judging by the way umpires check for no-balls seemingly at the fall of every wicket, it would seem more likely that they would instigate reviews in all but the very clearest cut of dismissals and appeals. The great advantage of putting the decision to review in players' hands - alongside two chances to get it wrong - is that it removes the pressure the umpire would come under to use it after many appeals that he currently rejects.<br> <br> If players use it correctly (ie. only to try to have the decisions they deem most likely to be erroneous overturned), the system works very well. At present it seems that England have learnt to use it well and Australia are exemplifying how not to use it. The faults are definitely with the humans.

  • Maddy83 on July 26, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    IMO prudent use of the DRS can be achieved if teams are allowed to carry over unsed reviews to the next inning in a test match

  • DaGameChanger on July 26, 2013, 17:23 GMT

    @Balaji..I disagree with you on decision of Bell or Tendulkar. Bell got bailed out on technical detail of 2.5m rule but DRS was absolutely correct in Tendulkar. Many blind fans was seeing it as plumb which it clearly was not because..it was either clipping leg stump very marginally or missing it. How many times you have seen a ball when you think how did it miss the stumps. Just because technology can detect to very close to millimeters, you think otherwise.