India news January 31, 2012

Hawk-Eye needs a leap of faith - Srinivasan

ESPNcricinfo staff

N Srinivasan, the BCCI president, has said that the Indian board does not have any reservations against technology as such, but reiterated its scepticism of the Decision Review System. Speaking to NDTV, Srinivasan said the BCCI's opposition of the DRS was based on the lack of evidence supporting the accuracy of Hawk-Eye, and the unreliability of Hot Spot.

"The BCCI is not against technology at all," Srinivasan said. "I am an engineer myself. Technology that is not perfect will not add to decision making, it will take away from it. We have explained our position at ICC meetings that the ball-tracking technology is faulty. Even the inventor [agrees] there's an uncertainty about it. The problem of Hot Spot was very evident in the England tour [where it presented a number of ambiguous verdicts, though the technology has improved markedly since then]. These are the two main elements that make up the DRS, and both do not stand up to the test of perfection."

Srinivasan said that during one of his meetings with the technology providers he had been told that a "leap of faith" was required to believe in the ball-tracking technology being used in the DRS.

"I had a presentation made to me by the Hawk-Eye people. Without going into all the details when I finally said, 'How can one be certain that the track showed by the computers was the actual path taken by the ball,' I was told, 'That is a leap of faith you have to take'. I was not prepared to take that leap of faith."

Srinivasan, who juggles the responsibilities of being an IPL governing council member and the owner of the Chennai Super Kings franchise in addition to being the BCCI president, stressed that his multiple roles did not involve any conflict of interest. Srinivasan is the managing director of India Cements, the company that owns the Super Kings franchise.

"I don't agree there is any conflict since no decision has been taken for the sake of one particular franchise," Srinivasan said. "India Cements is a public company that owns the bid for a team after securing permission from the BCCI. This was a declared situation, that I was the MD of the company.

"All decisions [pertaining to the IPL] are taken by the general body of the BCCI - 30 members are there. The governing council has 13 eminent people. There is no decision made exclusively for one franchise. Decisions are made by all these people, for all franchises."

Srinivasan also shot down suggestions that Indian selection panel head Kris Srikkanth's involvement with the Super Kings - he was a brand ambassador of the franchise in its first season - may have led to the inclusion of a large number of players from the state of Tamil Nadu in the Indian team. Chennai is the capital of Tamil Nadu.

"I will not talk about that," Srinivasan said. "There are five selectors, and I have no role in selection. I was the board secretary, and I convened those meetings, but I am not a selector. If there was an impression that someone who should not have been in the team [was picked] ... the entire cricketing press was there, but not a word, not even a squeak was there."

When the interviewer hinted that the press wasn't in a position to speak up since the BCCI controlled their access to cricket in India, Srinivasan said: "What access, nothing of that kind."

Srinivasan explained the cases of M Vijay and Abhinav Mukund - Tamil Nadu openers who have been in and out of the India side in the recent past - to reinforce his point. "M Vijay was chosen and he performed well; when he did not he was dropped. When he went outside, Zimbabwe and other things, his scores were not there and he automatically got the boot. The only other player was Abhinav Mukund who went to West Indies [and England] but he was not picked [later]. Instead, Ajinkya Rahane has gone to Australia."

Another contentious issue pertaining to the BCCI that gained currency during the England tour, was the potential conflict of interest involving two commentators. Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar, both contracted employees of the BCCI, were perceived to be toeing the board's line on issues such as the DRS and the influence of the IPL on India's Test performances. Srinivasan, however, said the BCCI had never sought to control what they said on air.

"They [Shastri and Gavaskar] are not 'hired guns'; saying so is not fair to the two of them. They have a contract with the BCCI, which was decided by the board at that time. I have read criticism on this. I have read people saying that the board gags the commentators or instructs them. I can assure you only one thing: we do not tell the commentator a single word. Suggesting that 'we don't have to' is unfair to the two of them.

"You have to understand the type of person that I am. The last thing that I would do would be to talk to a commentator to give a feeling, should we not give this flavour … I would find it demeaning to do. We don't give any directions to them, neither do we pull them up for anything."

Srinivasan also spoke about the BCCI's opposition to interference from the Indian government through a planned sports bill that seeks to bring the board under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

"The RTI doesn't apply to the board. It doesn't take one rupee from the government. There's nothing secret about the board. Except for the selection committee, what they discuss, that is not discussed in public which is fair enough. Otherwise, in every other aspect we are transparent, we answer to the people. It is on principle. Why should the Sports Law apply to the BCCI? Without any government fingerprint - ok, we may have had the odd bad series - but over a long period of time, we have seen Indian cricket come of age."

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