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DRS set to dominate ICC meet

Nagraj Gollapudi

September 15, 2013

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A disappointed Australian side as they lose their first review, England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 5th day, August 5, 2013
England and Australia both had reasons to feel aggrieved about the DRS during the recently completed Ashes series © Getty Images
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The decision review system (DRS) and the playing conditions at the 2015 World Cup are set to dominate the proceedings at the two-day ICC chief executives' committee (CEC) meeting in Dubai on September 16 and 17. Although the ICC discontinued last year its practice of publishing the agenda and results of the CEC, it is understood that the meet will see a divided house with England and Australia joining hands to take on the other front led by India with support from its sub-continental neighbours - Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh - especially on the topic of the referral system.

According to an official privy to the ECB-CA plan, both members want to continue utilising the DRS in bilateral series despite its shortcomings - especially during the recently completed Ashes series. Jonathan Trott was given out lbw on review at Trent Bridge despite an apparent edge, while Usman Khawaja's caught behind dismissal in Manchester during the third Test was upheld even though replays showed daylight between bat and ball. Hot Spot's inability to detect fine edges also created confusion, and towards the end of the series, its evidence was routinely ignored by the third umpire. Geoff Allardice, the ICC operations chief, met with the two sides before the fourth match in Durham to address some of their concerns.

It is understood that David Collier, the ECB chief executive, and his Cricket Australia counterpart James Sutherland are expected to put forward a series of proposals at the CEC to make the DRS more consistent.

During the latest Ashes, one visible hindrance to the DRS was the amount of umpiring errors. To remedy that, both England and Australia want the ICC to enhance the clarity in the communication between the third umpire and the on-field umpires.

"Based on evidence during the Ashes some conversations between the match officials were unintelligible because of language barriers and the ECB and CA want the ICC to create a mechanism where the match officials can communicate between themselves and the broadcaster without creating much confusion," the official said.

Another proposal is to make the role of the television umpire a specialist role. During the Ashes, the ICC had conducted trials allowing the third umpire instant access to TV replays which could help him overrule mistakes committed by the on-field official. During the Old Trafford Test, England umpire Nigel Llong sat in the back of the TV truck, where he received a direct feed of pictures to help him improve the quality of decision making using instant technology.

Dave Richardson, the ICC's chief executive, had said that the exercise would help avoid incidents like the Stuart Broad one during the Trent Bridge Test, when the England allrounder edged Ashton Agar but stood his ground. Aleem Dar, the on-field umpire, failed to detect the edge and Australia, having exhausted their reviews, were left frustrated and annoyed.

The other suggestion England and Australia want to discuss is if the DRS is just there to clear up a howler then a team should not lose a review when it becomes an umpire's call. "Because the margin of error is so minimal between an out and not and an umpire's call," the official said.

However, England and Australia feel not all umpires can adapt quickly to the challenges of being a television umpire. Collier and Sutherland are expected to discuss the issue with Simon Taufel, ICC's umpires training and performance manager.

However constructive their suggestions sound, England and Australia still need India, the staunchest critic of the DRS, on their side. What might make their defence of the DRS weak is the admission of Warren Brennan, the Hot Spot inventor, who stated that tests carried out recently on various modern bats revealed protective coatings across the edges of bats unquestionably diminished the thermal signatures.

Such a reasoning can only enhance India's doubts over the DRS being far from 100% foolproof, a condition they have set in order to accept the referral system. It is understood that N Srinivasan, the BCCI president, had a separate meeting with the representatives of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the Asian Cricket Council held in Chennai on Saturday, to garner support.

The other contentious topic the sub-continental teams have become wary about is the use of two new balls in ODIs. The rule came into force from October 2011 after the ICC Cricket Committee recommended it. However, all four Asian countries believe such a rule has proved to be deterrent to their slow bowlers, who play an integral part in the team structure. Not just India, a team like Sri Lanka is heavily reliant on its slow bowlers and is opposed to the two-ball rule only because the hard ball does not allow the spinner to grip the seam properly.

Bad light is another topic member countries are concerned about and there is supposed to be unilateral appeal to the ICC to change the playing conditions to make use of the floodlights at grounds wherever available.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by ramli on (September 18, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

DRS can be retained for another purpose ... as a source of entertainment ... audience look forward to DRS replays for the fun of it in the course of a dull and dreary test match ... at least you can ridicule the umpire for his vanity???

Posted by ReverseSweepIndia on (September 18, 2013, 8:02 GMT)

IMO, do away with this expensive monster called DRS and replace it with simple replay. After howlers can be detected by normal cameras too. No major extra costs, may be few extra cameras in place, it still will be lot cheaper and even broadcaster won't have any objection to bearing cost. And also from 2 review, make it 2 conclusive review. For instance if a caught behind appeal has been denied because its not conclusive, fielding team does not lose review.

Posted by fireballer on (September 18, 2013, 0:23 GMT)

Why is there an umpires call? If DRS shows out it should be out irrespective of the umpire's decision. Less confusion,no complication & no reviews lost.

Posted by bharatputra83 on (September 17, 2013, 15:08 GMT)

@ mngc Also, the ball tracking tech is based much on mathematical extrapolation which itself is based on far too less frames to say that each and every tracking is accurate.

So, it would be best if DRS is shelved for now and the technology as well as the officials handling it are given enough training along with the ICC formulating better implementation of rules for the referrals. All this takes time. The fact of the matter remains that international matches are not meant to be serving as trials for a DRS system which is nowhere near acceptable to all as yet. Let those trials and errors be done in domestic matches and then bring it forth. The DRS as of now, is simply an unfinished product brought hurriedly into the market by the western boards for reasons they themselves know.

Posted by bharatputra83 on (September 17, 2013, 14:59 GMT)

@ mngc I think by now pretty much every team has been on the receiving end of DRS, with and without it being in implementation. The thing is there have been controversies even when DRS had been in place. Read my comment again. I am not saying to remove DRS forever, but rather let it improve and become what it can by ironing out its faults and then it can be reintroduced as well as being made mandatory.

Even with referral to your own point, the third umpires cannot be trained in the system overnight.

The financing of DRS is also a big issue for some boards/sponsors. Even some of the tech appears insufficient, like that of hotspot as evident in the Ashes.

The snickometer wont be of much use in the subcontinent where the noise levels are very high and also there is the issue of it not being able to distinguish between bat and pad when both are close to the ball. Ball-tracking tech doesn't take matters like pitch, weather conditions, wind etc into much consideration. Contd....

Posted by salazar555 on (September 17, 2013, 13:31 GMT)

DRS is pretty good as it is, hot spot is not perfect and is the one thing I would say that causes problems. Real time snicko will be the breakthrough and will make the tech as near perfect as can be

Posted by popcorn on (September 17, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

The Gentleman's game as it was meant to be, is no longer that.As Simon Taufel, amongst the best Umpires EVER,and certainly the best in this modern era of Technology,has said, "Technology has made umpiring tougher,because of the invasive nature of this broadcasting".Every decision by the Umipre is analysed for right or wrong. There are far more armchair experts.Technology should be left in the hands of the Umpire to ratify his decision of giving it out or not out,and the Thid Umpire and the Onfield Umpire should be conversing when in doubt. The Third Umpire should ASSIST the On Field Umpire. There should be no challenge permitted by the players. Technology can never be perfect becuse it does not take into account pitch conditions, wind and other factors.Tennis too has challenges, but though Roger Federer was against it initially for similar reason, he accepted it gracefully. To expect grace from the Indians is like expecting the sun to rise in the west.

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