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ICC bats for its 2.5-metre rule

Sharda Ugra in Bangalore

March 1, 2011

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MS Dhoni calls for a referral when Ian Bell was struck on the pads by Yuvraj Singh, India v England, World Cup, Group B, Bangalore, February 27, 2011
MS Dhoni asks for a review after Ian Bell was given not out in the game against England in Bangalore © Getty Images
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The controversial clause in the Decision Review System (DRS) that reprieved Ian Bell during the tense England run-chase against India in Bangalore was introduced into the rules because of players' doubts over the accuracy of the ball tracker technology. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo in Bangalore, ICC chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, said, "The rules and protocols for DRS were designed by experts with much thought. The Bell example applies the 2.5m rule which, in my view, accommodates the scepticism that some have with predictive technonolgy."

India's scepticism about the DRS has grown following the incident involving Bell, the first time the team asked for a referral in the World Cup. Television replays, which were displayed on the giant screen of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, appeared to show that the ball had hit a forward-stretching Bell low on the pad with the ball in line with middle stump. Bell had begun to walk off, but umpire Billy Bowden did not declare him out because the distance between the point of impact and the stumps was shown to be 2.5m.

MS Dhoni criticised the Bell decision, calling it an 'adulteration' of technology with human judgement, but Lorgat said it was not an accurate description of what transpired. "It's absolutely not (adulteraton) - as it is there to support the umpire, not to overrule the umpire. The whole purpose of DRS is to avoid the error, not to seek a wicket or to reprieve a batsman. That's not the purpose of the system, the purpose is to avoid an error that would result in gross injustice. The Bell decision was a judgement call for the umpire - if he didn't have the DRS, we would have been arguing about how far down the pitch the batsman was. What we are trying to avoid through DRS is the bad decision, not to adjudicate on decisions that could go either way.

Using the DRS in the World Cup, Lorgat said was, "to simply avoid the shocking error that can happen. And we do not want such errors in the World Cup." Umpires he said would acknowledge this, he said, adding they were, "happy" with the DRS. "They can go to sleep at night knowing that had they made that one mistake, it can be rectified. That would not have happened without DRS."

The rule about the distance between impact and the stumps had been put in place precisely because experts had said that the accuracy of the ball tracker - in this case Hawk Eye - begins to falter from that point. "In other words if the ball needed to travel more than 2.5m, then it is for the umpire to make the final decision as he sees it."

Dhoni had asked why the mark had not been stipulated at 2.4, or 2.6m, and Lorgat said that while, "You can set that mark wherever you want - Dhoni was saying 2.4 and 2.6 - but the experts have decided on 2.5 m, after which the umpire and not technology decides.."

ICC General Manager, Dave Richardson, told Indian news channel, CNN-IBN, that Dhoni should be aware of the rules before passing judgement. "There are a set of rules along with the Hawk-Eye to assist in making the decision when UDRS is implemented ... Most of the time, a player is not fully aware of all the rules. If MS Dhoni is made aware of the specifications of these rules, then I am sure that he will accept the decision that was made."

"If MS Dhoni is made aware of the specifications of these rules, then I am sure that he will accept the decision that was made."

Lorgat went on to say that regardless of the technology, the umpire had remained at the front and center of decision making on the field. "The umpire still has the authority to say, despite what I've heard and seen, I still don't think that is enough reason for me to change my decision. It is for them to decide. That [DRS] has aided them, that does not overrule the umpire. That is a support structure we have put in place."

When asked whether the DRS would now be a constant in ODIs following the World Cup, Lorgat said, "No. A comprehensive review and recommendation can only be decided once the ICC Cricket Committee deliberates in May 2011. You can't deny the progress of technology, either we embrace it or we reject it. I believe we reject it at our own peril."

The DRS was met with a lot of resistance when it was first introduced in 2008, but it has now enjoys what Lorgat calls a, "lot more support" across all Test playing countries other than India. Lorgat said, "Now, people are asking us, "Why is it not mandatory?" It is currently not because of the lack of available technology. We would also want all players and Match Officials to experience and embrace it fully." He said there were, "commercial and contractual aspects related to its application" which is why the ICC had left the decision, "to the participating Boards."

The system had come into play in the World Cup because it was an ICC event but leaving it to bilateral boards was not unfair on the part of those countries which have embraced it, "This (the World Cup) is an ICC event and the ICC has decided to use it. In the case of bilateral series it is up to the Members to decide. Some claim this is not consistent and therefore not fair. I don't believe so as the playing conditions would be the same for the two competing teams and it is still the subject of the umpire deciding."

Lorgat said the DRS was, "no more than a tool" to help the decision making the umpire. "By using DRS, the correct decision making percentage has improved by around 5%, from 92% to 97%. With such improvement how can we not support its use?"

In the ICC's DRS rule pertaining to the Process of Consultation, No. 3.3 (i), states that if a 'not out' decision is being reviewed on the 'point of impact' issue, the third umpire must tell the onfield umpire whether the ball is past 2.5m or not and then pass on the following information: the distance from the wickets of the point of impact with the batsman, the approximate distance from the point of pitching to the point of impact, and whether the ball is predicted to the hit the stumps. According to the explanation given on the ICC's website, along with the 2.5m rule, should the distance between point of pitching and point of impact with the pad be less than 40cm, "the umpires are not obliged to follow the normal rules for using Hawkeye to determine whether the batsman is out or not and shall have a discretion in determining whether or not to overturn their original not out decision."

The ball tracker, like Hawk-Eye in this case, comes into play from the time the ball pitches and to the point of impact. That passage of information is then passed to the computer through multiple camera frames that help the tracker pick up on trajectory and make its assessment. The greater the distance between the point where the ball pitches and the point where it makes contact with either bat or pad, the more camera frames there are for the tracker to trace the predictive path. The shorter the distance, the less information is available to the technology to make an accurate prediction, which is why the 2.5m rule was brought into play.

The Bell-Bowden incident has raised the issue of whether the third umpire should be able to instruct the on-field umpire to change his decision, as opposed to merely passing on information.

The argument in favour says that the third umpire is the man who has both access and time to look at the replay and is also detached from the emotions on the field and in the crowd looking at the dismissal on a giant screen. The argument against states that giving the third umpire these powers will reduce the importance of the man in the middle.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 309 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 4, 2011, 8:52 GMT)

Why would the on-field umpire change his decision!! He already said out n u r askin him again, saying the technology isnt gud enough! Thts absurd...UDRS thumbs down!

Posted by Salman on (March 4, 2011, 6:30 GMT)

its plain and explained simple. though i'm an indian and would have loved Bell to be out, lets be fair. DRS has improved the decisions from 92 to 97. we've to set a mark somewhere, and right now it is 2.5m. Now, the question is that whether the third umpire be referred to pass information or judgment. I think let it be judgment, just like run-out. That will end the whole controversy.

Posted by Bangalore on (March 4, 2011, 6:01 GMT)

3.3 (i), ... the third umpire must tell the onfield umpire whether the ball is past 2.5m or not and ... the distance .. of the point of impact.., the distance from the point of pitching to the point of impact, and whether the ball is predicted to the hit the stumps.

Along with the 2.5m, should the distance between point of pitching and point of impact with the pad be less than 40cm, then "the umpires are not obliged to follow the normal rules for using Hawkeye to determine whether the batsman is out or not and shall have a discretion in determining whether or not to overturn their original not out decision."

The rule just states that the umpires are not obliged, i.e.legally constrained to use Hawkeye,but does not say that it should not be used.

The distance between point of pitching and point of impact should be less than 40cm, it was more than 1m

It does not state that the player is not out and it clearly states that the umpire can "overturn their original not out"


Posted by Chayan on (March 4, 2011, 5:42 GMT)

I wonder what kinda expert would consider an error in haw-keye when the batsman is more then 2.5m away from the stump but wont give a crap about the height at which the ball is hitting the stump. If you are gona consider possible accuracy error in length then its common scientific sense to considerthe same for height as well like suppose the hawk-eye shows the ball hitting the stump at 15 cm above the ground then it will nullify the batsman being more then 2.5 m from the stumps...........But as usual the the experts are using the limited grey matter they hv like in they use in D/L system.......

Posted by Biso on (March 4, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

@ For all those of you who have strong reservations against the BBCI's reaction: Elton Chigambura has just been given out LBW to Vettori by umpire Erasmus. He went for the review and it was observed that it met all criteria for LBW except( will you believe it) the impact was at least 3 meters away and the ball was hitting the leg stump.Now, (not a surprise) the umpire did not heed the 2.5 meter rule while the replay showed clearly that the batsman was way down the wicket (if at all he was informed by the third umpire). He upheld his earlier ruling and that is "OUT" .An umpire who has used his intelligence( must we say). On the other hand Bell, had an impact just over 2.5 meters away and the ball was hitting middle stump. Bowden ruled not out. Where is the objectivity here? This is exactly what Dhoni had warned about. Just do not be prejudiced by false pre- conceived notions about BCCI.Care to read my previous comments.These two decisions have smeared egg on ICC's face.Period.

Posted by Sundarraman on (March 4, 2011, 5:11 GMT)

First of the creators of the rule should have considered the bounce factor on sub continent and damp wickets in general. The 2.5 rule may hold good on a typical Australian and South African wicket were you can expect the ball to go over the stumps pitched 2.5 m, but not on Indian wickets.

Bowlers gets LBW dismissals with bouncers in sub continent... Its surprising that a range has been set blindly without considering the Pitch condition.... It doesn't even require cricket sense to say that the ball was hitting the stumps when Bell review is flashed on the screen... ICC has to take a note of this incidence and update their rule books and not try to defend it... India is the biggest nation in cricket and when their public is not convinced, then this new technology will not add any value to Cricket!

Posted by asim on (March 3, 2011, 22:44 GMT)

Predictive path technology is not mature enough to be used in cricket. How about the on-field umpire getting a second look in slow motion without a machine predicting where the ball is supposed to go. Simple, straight and without complex rules. This works pretty damn well in NFL without anyone complaining and in cricket for runout reviews. Seeing it as-is will be a true assist to the umpire rather than a machine predicting the path.

Posted by Javed on (March 3, 2011, 19:50 GMT)

@user2k11,- Did you go ask everyone? I thought Bell was out after watching the replay. Even Bell thought he was out and started walking.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 3, 2011, 19:33 GMT)

So the ball could be hitting you low down and going on to clearly hit middle but a tape measure is pulled out to check if you have stretched 2.5M. Even Bell was surprized. Sillly, do'nt you think? Next time, just step out guys and learn to stretch 2.5M - that way atleast you've ruled out LBW.

Posted by idris on (March 3, 2011, 19:02 GMT)

udrs rules should allow to use for all questionable desizon per team not only two. why eams allows only two mistakes but umpires allows all mistakes? 2.5m distance rulles should be considured to all lbw desizons.

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