Consistency the key to DRS - Tendulkar
The BCCI's refusal to accept the Decision Review System (DRS) for the forthcoming tour of England is a clear indication that India's stand on the subject has not moved from its team's initial reaction to the referral system in the 2008 series versus Sri Lanka. The system may now have been widely accepted around the world and the technology improved, yet the BCCI has not had any formal meetings with the Indian cricketers about their responses to the DRS in ICC events since their 2008 experience.
Sachin Tendulkar's name is often taken as one of the two Indian players (captain MS Dhoni the other) who is resistant to the referral system and therefore tacitly responsible for the BCCI's continuous refusal of the DRS.
On Thursday, Tendulkar reiterated to ESPNcricinfo that he was not against the use of the technology, "I am not against DRS, but I feel it will be more effective with the support of the Snickometer and Hot Spot technology. This will give more consistent results."
BCCI president Shashank Manohar said to ESPNcricinfo, "I have even told the ICC that we have no problem with Hot Spot. Our objection is to ball tracking.... it becomes just a case of someone else's imagination versus the umpire's imagination."
In the case of the England series, the availability of Hot Spot as part of the DRS was ignored when the BCCI decided to turn down the referral system. Hot Spot's thermal imaging cameras provide an extra layer of information about the point of impact to third umpires that may be able to make up for any possible inaccuracies of the predictor path.
Tendulkar says the merging of all available technology would come closest to 100% accuracy as possible and be of the best use in the DRS. His opinion comes close to that of both Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid who expressed support of the referral system, despite the Sri Lanka experience and early technological errors.
In the World Cup, however, Dhoni had called the DRS, the "adulteration" of technology and human decision-making.
More than one player on the Indian team has said in private that the DRS had often benefitted them and the team during the World Cup. Despite having Sehwag two referrals going against him in the semi-finals and the final, he said to a television reporter he still supported the system as it had given him the opportunity to ask for reviews of decisions he doubted."
Yet the DRS and its use depends not on player opinion, but official approval. BCCI officials were due to travel to Australia late last year during the Ashes to study the Virtual Eye technology being used by the official broadcasters Channel 9, but the trip was cancelled. Manohar said a presentation made by the Hawk-Eye to the BCCI in Chennai at the time did not convince the officials of the accuracy of the technology either.
As the BCCI remains adamant about the DRS, its technological base keeps improving. The first pictures of a system called Hot Track were tried out during the Ashes which merged Virtual Eye and Hot Spot, and use the Hot Spot point of impact to give extra information to the predictor path. BBG Sports, the owners of the Hot Spot, now own two new cameras that are being set up to be faster, offering more frames per second, greater clarity and greater flexibility.
Neither Hot Spot nor the Snicko, is part of the ICC's list of minimum technology requirements for the DRS. The question of whether there will be changes in the referral requirements or if the DRS should be made mandatory across all series, however, is dependent once again on the ICC's annual meeting in Hong Kong at the end of this month.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo