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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on February 2, 2012, 8:28 GMT

    Mr. Srinivasan can wait for perfection until Kingdom Come. Inventions are perfected only when they are used (not sure if he has heard Feedback Mechanism or not). Of course a certain level of usability should be there before anything new can be used and I believe the DRS technologies are well above that level these days. I think BCCI is simply putting a roadblock to ensure that it is seen as the 'other one' in the Cricketing world.

  • saurabh on February 1, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    Mr Srinivasan please dont about ur business and and ur engineering just see how to improve the team performance abroad and please go for the full UDRS system now or please resign from the post and start do ur business.

  • Dummy4 on February 1, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    I thought the first thing the teach you in empirical physics is measurement uncertainty! Just as your regular meter rule will not measure anything at the fraction of a millimeter (smallest calibration being one millimeter), every instrument has an uncertainty. So will predictive technology, and understandably, this uncertainty increases with the range of distance through which the prediction is valid.

    I just don't get why ICC doesn't impose these rules upon the nations! I mean, it's not as if BCCI is too poor to implement the DRS!

  • Drew on February 1, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    @satish619chandar does it have to be blatently obvious. Digimont said 'influenced' which is quite different to, as you say, 'Indians bullying umpires'. It can happen when anyone is on 99 so why can't it happen when a man batting has the full support of the BCCI behind him. After all, haven't 2 umpires been sent into early retirement on the basis of 'Indians bullying umpires'. @melwinat the 3rd umpire is just that. There is no DRS referral to use the 3rd umpire because they are distinct umpiring bodies. BTW, have you forgotten Sachin's part in 'monkeygate'? Recall that despicable act before criticising Ponting. Even without DRS India lost the last two away series 8-0. Does the team and admistrators actually believe they could do worse with DRS. It seems this issue is more to front of their minds than actual performance on the pitch anyway.

  • Dru on February 1, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    As an engineer surely he would know better than most that using machines or technology is a long way better than relying on humans!! I agree there is some doubt about the tragectory of the ball ECT but at least it would be consistent. One of the greatest issues we have with umpires is inconsistency. I also agree that technology is far from 100% but it surely adds better value than not having it. The BCCI by being the biggest player in cricket is only twarting the development of the technology. I also fail to understand why the ICC cant take the stance that each team should be allowed to make the decision on DRS independently and if the BCCI doesnt want to use it, the opponent should be free to use it. After all just as much as the BCCI can choose not to use DRS surely the oppoenent can choose to use it. This would settle the debate once and for all.

  • Melwin on February 1, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    @ one the above posts.. If indians were to receive the hoem advantage.. What should be said for the Ind - Aus series.. in 1999 and 2008.. wat were the umpires thinking when they gave so many wrong decisions against sachin and when the umpire consulted the Dishonest Aus captian-Ricky ponting instead of calling for the 3rd umpire. DONT TALK RUBBISH... Even with the DRS indians got few wrong decisions going against even after consulting the 3rd umpire... justice denied ... We'l have to ask GOD himself to judge for the indian team..

  • Satish on February 1, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    @Digimont : Have you ever saw Indians bullying umpires? Whenever they have even a small arguement, the umpires tjust shut the door on them.. Imagine a Dhoni arguing with a umpire of Aleem Dar for 5 minutes for a decision which was taken by the third umpire for a DRS review.. Never had it happened.. Bad decision by umpire happens always.. To say Indian influence umpires is as bad as anything.. What wrong with u guys? As if no umpire gave Sachin LBW previously.. In fact, Sachin should be the guy who had got most unfair decisions ever in cricket..

  • Satish on February 1, 2012, 9:33 GMT

    @Posted by on (February 01 2012, 08:31 AM GMT) : Any player ll be smart enough to retire on a high.. Inspite of huge experience and playing so many matches in Australia, the big guns in the batting lineup fared poorly in the Australian tour and no one took the blame and retired.. Why should Dhoni retire before them all?

  • Fergus on February 1, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    If he's an engineer he should know that the system is not faulty! It has an increasing uncertainty with the distance it has to predict, as would be expected. However, the uncertainty is still considerably less than the diameter of the ball, so you could just change the leeway allowed for 'umpire's call' for those decisions. There is also video footage around to show the predicted path compared to true path - it certainly isn't a leap of faith.

  • Dummy4 on February 1, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    Mr. N Srinivasan only cares about his business which is Chennai Super Kings & Kings XI Punjab. Can somebody ask him that how would he react if his very own franchise be in the same form as current Indian Test Team?? He is not in spot of bother because he is doing well as far as his business is concerned. If he is an engineer and knows more than anybody else about technology so that means all other English, Aussies, SA and other boards are being fooled to believe it. And he is using same language as MSD like " losing two odd series here and there". MSD is also clever not to retire now as he knows England tour of India in this year and India has good chance of winning that series at home and then he can retire on high note. And not only him, but he is also keeping all big players with him to play until that series and he can be sure of winning that series. Because he was riding on those player's success before. That is obvious that Politics has won over sport in this case.

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