January 17, 2010

The UDRS and Pakistan are failing

The ICC needs to take full responsibility for the running of the review system, and Pakistan need to own up to their poor out cricket and questionable tactics

There was a grandstand finish to the old Test year and an excellent start to the new one but the same can't be said for the Umpire Decision Review System and Pakistan.

From a playing point of view, the year finished with a flourish. India beat Sri Lanka with Virender Sehwag reviving thoughts of Sir Donald Bradman by scoring just under 300 runs in a Test match day. New Zealand and Pakistan played a hard-fought tied series, and most importantly for Test cricket, West Indies showed signs of life with a spirited conclusion to their series in Australia.

Then a thrilling draw in Cape Town, and Australia's amazing turnaround victory at the SCG kicked off the New Year in fine style. Test cricket was alive and thriving; people were talking not so much about how it could be saved but its amazing ability to capture emotions.

The UDRS, in its latest form, with the predictive path of Hawkeye being utilised, was introduced in November. We were told by the ICC the aim was to eliminate the howler, and hopefully make players more honest.

The system has failed to live up to its billing. The bulk of the decisions being reviewed are lbw appeals that are marginal at best. Fifty-fifty decisions have always been part of the game and are generally received magnanimously by players. Now they are being regularly reviewed and the umpire's original decision is, on most occasions, shown to be a good one - one the players would have accepted graciously before the UDRS was introduced.

Worse still, players are now reviewing decisions in the hope that the system will make a mistake. A system that is constantly being fine-tuned will have flaws and mistakes will occur. While it's accepted that humans make mistakes, it is sometimes forgotten that so do computers.

Rather than encouraging batsmen to walk, the system has influenced them to stay around more and make the sign of the T. Unfortunately, when the system was unveiled, there was mention of poor umpiring but no talk about how to set things right. So far the UDRS seems to be having an adverse affect on umpires, with some even saying it changes their decision-making process.

The ICC made a fundamental mistake when it first introduced the third-umpire experiment. It relied on television to provide the tools for the system rather than taking on complete responsibility for the process. This has resulted in certain tools not being utilised in some series, because the television company involved deemed them either unnecessary or too expensive.

The ICC should provide all the tools it thinks are required to complete the decision-making process effectively. If they then want to reclaim those costs by including them in the rights fee, so be it; the important thing is every series should be played under the same conditions.

Pakistan have long been the least willing of all the Test-playing nations to own up to their failings

So far the UDRS has made a very good case for the process to be taken out of the players' hands. If the aim is to eliminate the howler, it would be better off if the process was under the control of the off-field official, who is more likely to overturn only those decisions where there are obvious mistakes.

In the case of Pakistan's catastrophic loss in Sydney, no blame could be apportioned to machine; it was all down to human error. First there was the abysmal keeping of Kamran Akmal, followed by the equally timid captaincy of Mohammad Yousuf. Pakistan have long been the least willing of all the Test-playing nations to own up to their failings.

I recall a 2004 conversation with their former champion batsman Javed Miandad. He believed Pakistan struggled to win overseas because for too long they had relied on help at home to win. Help in the form of favourable pitches and hometown umpiring, and when this wasn't forthcoming they had little to fall back on.

It's time Pakistan cricket looked in the mirror and owned up to poor out cricket and questionable tactics as their two biggest hindrances in improvement. Skill isn't a failing with Pakistan cricket but execution is.

Both Pakistan cricket and the UDRS are desperately in need of good old-fashioned honest appraisal.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator and columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • TARIQ on January 20, 2010, 18:03 GMT

    Mr Chappel, Open season on PAKISTAN CRICKET EH- I think you are very unfair and baised citing Pakistan's overall successes down to favourable home umpiring, Very wrong and unfortunate comments ignoring the fact that Pakistan won 4 overseas series wins under Imran and 4 under W's and Inzi, You forgot to mention that in 80's bad umpiring was everywhere in those days and Austaria had a fair share of such umpires as well as did England, India, West Indies and nearly all the major Test Playing nations so why singling out Pakistan?-- can't understand your logic. I do agree with your comments on bad captaincy and missed chances in recent three series which I think Pak should have won very easily if they wouldn't have drop so many catches but this is cricket and they can only improve from this once they come out of some internal problems. I did notice that some of the Aussie channel 9 pannelists was very harsh and over critical on times in recent stint. Your comments on UDRS are very valid.

  • Satyajit on January 20, 2010, 15:48 GMT

    Agree to Chappell on both counts (UDRS and Pak failing). Also happy that IC is enjoying test cricket and I guess doesn't think necessary to turn it to a 3 day contest. To people supporting UDRS, technology itself is not a bad thing. Question is, is the use of technology removing your confusions and mistakes? With the current UDRS it is a 'No'. Take a small example. Hair dryer (albeit not big) was a good technology invention helping people (specifically the fairer kind) to dry their hair. But if instead of drying hair if it would electrocute people or even give them small doses of electricity shocks, would you still insist it be used? A technology is good only when it is atleast 99% right. UDRS is far from that. I agree to Ponting's statement that it should have been used in lesser formats (like club level and 1st class cricket) before introducing to Intl cricket. And yes, a limited version of UDRS can be used in the interim where third umpire can negate the howlers.

  • santhosh on January 20, 2010, 15:17 GMT

    @ heart_king

    a batsman CAN be given out if the ball pitches outside his off. the only condition for an LBW not to be upheld is when the ball pitches outside leg. a batsman cannot also be out if he is struck outside off WHILE ATTEMPTING A STROKE, but can be ruled out if he is NOT. all this assuming the ball is hitting the stumps.

  • santhosh on January 20, 2010, 15:13 GMT

    @ ATrueLegend

    FYI, variable bounce and unpredictable movement of the ball or any other possibility of uncertain nature are not taken into consideration when making an LBW decision, even by the on field umpires.LBW decision are made purely on the assumption that ball's last movement would have held its line if the bodily obstacle of the batsman was not in its course. hence the hawkeye can be used as a reliable tool to assist in decisions. abt UDRS, just have a look at how many decisions were overruled by technology. it only goes on to show how many mistakes are made by the men in the middle. agreed, it has its flaws, but in inconclusive cases, the benefit of doubt, if any, should not go to the batsman, but to the umpire: his original decision must stand.

  • Archit on January 19, 2010, 14:53 GMT

    UDRS has saved the agony and despair for least. How come match changing batsmen like Yousuf, AB de Villiers and more just walk out of the match due to an umpiring mistake? With all due respect to the umpires, they can make errors as do all humans. Then why the use of UDRS is being questioned? I believe restricting it to 2 per innings and retaining a successful referral has done more good to stop unlimited referrals. Time has changed and why not make cricket even more fair (as far as umpiring decisions are concerned) then it ever was. All the more, it is not very easy as said above to motivate players to move of their own. Of course we have Adam Gilchrist, Sachin Tendulkar and many others who do follow so, but then there are many who are right to say that they believe to walk after the umpire's decision, whether right or wrong. The UDRS has brought a change which was long due.It will change the results eventually!!!

  • Philip on January 19, 2010, 14:42 GMT

    The UDR system should have been requested by the umpires themselves. Why cannot the umpires come out of their stubborn stance and get some help from the third umpire before giving the decision? We see them hesitate and make a call. This hesitation tells you that they are not sure themselves. The umpires could have sorted this out once and for all. If there was no referral made by the on field umpire and the 3rd umpire sees that there has been an error he (the 3rd) should be intervening in the matter. Rudy Koersten seems to be the only one who talks sense as he realises that as human they have blundered many a time. IT IS NOT THE PLAYERS BUT THE STUBBORNESS OF THE UMPIRES - IT NOT HELPING THEM NEITHER THE GAME.

    Philip Gnana, New Malden, Surrey

  • Satyajit on January 19, 2010, 4:45 GMT

    Dear Bogambo, what are you talking about? Neutral umpire system was there for a decade when Kumble took his 10 wickets. I don't remember anybody crediting Kumble's 10 wickets to umpiring. Pakistani umpiring was at it's worst in 70s and 80s (Shakur Rana being the most infamous of them all). Imran Khan surely did suggest neutral umpiring in 1989 when he was nearing his bowling career. Apart from being a great all rounder Imran has also been one of the cleverest to play the game :-) While umpiring was a bit partial in other countries too (till neutral system came in vogue) but Pakistani umpires took it to completely different level. However, I would not agree that Pak team of 80s and 90s didn't have enough good players. Throughout the 90s, apart from the two Ws who were great bowlers they had Saqlain, Anwar, Inzi etc. And in 80s Pak team did compete really well with Champ WI team in WI. The current team is just a shade of those days...

  • Martin on January 19, 2010, 2:44 GMT

    There are two major problems with the UDRS in my opinion. Firstly, the decision of "umpires call." Which basically means that there is not enough evidence for the third umpire to make a decision so its up to the on field umpire to decide if its out or not. Whatever happened to the old benefit of the doubt goes to the batsman rule? Surely if even the third umpire (with all that technology on hand) can't be sure if it is out or not there is enough doubt for the decision to go in favour of the batsman? Secondly, the third umpire should be used to assist the onfield umpire in making a decision rather than let the umpire make a decision (without the help of the 3rd umpire) and then look at whether that decision is correct or not.

  • Ayyappan on January 19, 2010, 2:41 GMT

    For URDS,, especially on LBWs,, my idea on it may sound a lot crazy,, The rule should be applied on two instances where the on field Umpire's decision can be revert only if a batsman gets an inside edge or,,, a bowler overstepped,,,, else the onfield umpires decision is the final one........... On Pakistan cricket,, well,, It was dead many years back,, Mohammed Yousuf,,, the final test player for Pakistan,,, How about another idea from me,, follows here to promote Test cricket,,, No player from any country can playT20 till he attains 25 years of age even in domestic level. He can only play a Maximum of 5 domestic Limited over cricket per year till he attains 22 years of age. Only Longer version of the game is allowed for him to play without restrictions. :-) If Pakistan follows this rule then they can come back as a good Test playing nation. Else ,,, it has already become history,,

  • Heart on January 19, 2010, 1:36 GMT

    Mr Chappel i am sorry if you dont mind in recent series "IMRAN FARHAT" was given LBW twice as a cricket player and umpire i know if ball is pitched out off line of stumps no matter where it hits batsman will be not out and i was very upset none of any comentator mention it because it was favoring australian team .I hope if you see recordings you would agree with me .Other in that match both oppener were given LBW in both innings is this GOOD umpiring?

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