February 9, 2011

Will the UDRS be proved a good thing?

The review system has, faults notwithstanding, the potential to be a boon for cricket. If Indian players and the BCCI warm to it during the World Cup, its future is bright
55

According to Professor Sherry Turkle's new book Alone Together - Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Japan's lonely elderly have found a companion in Paro, a cuddly robotic baby seal that responds to the human voice and a kindly hand. The relationship may be utterly one-sided - the robot, of course, lacks the capacity to care - and the level of communication questionable, but the humans have felt the benefits. To dismiss this as self-delusion is to miss the point: owners believe they have found a friend. And perception, in this case, is all.

From cloning to chads, finding reasons to be fearful about automation and technology is scarcely a challenge. Professor Turkle is especially condemnatory about the way Facebook is eroding our ability to experience the full, rich gamut of human experience. But when the benefits outweigh the costs, why resist? Which is why, while much is hanging on this tenth World Cup, including the very future of the 50-over fray itself, nothing will matter more than the performance of, and reception to, the Umpire Decision Review System.

For the first time in a major global event the UDRS is about to be deployed, albeit without the infra-red nous of Hot Spot, which would have been such an asset amid the oft-deafening din and indifferent light. As with any modern cricketing venture, the future of one of the most potentially far-reaching concepts the old game has ever known will almost certainly depend on whether India can a) come to terms with it and b) exploit it.

Trouble is, mental roadblocks were erected in Colombo and Galle from the moment Sri Lanka trounced Dhoni and pals on the review count when the UDRS took its first tentative steps in 2008. The irony in the unfortunate unavailability of Hot Spot lies not with the fact that this military-tested gizmo has proven so effective in tennis, but that it was the one device favoured by both Simon Taufel and the BCCI itself.

To claim, nevertheless, that technological gremlins are reason enough to chuck out baby with bathwater is to misunderstand, wilfully or otherwise, the system's purpose. The aim is to eliminate, as far as humanly/machinely possible, something the ICC originally characterised, rather cleverly, as "howlers". This is not about attaining perfection but reducing imperfection. Only the latter is within the capabilities of mere mortals. Or even, bless 'em, those nifty machines.

LET'S REWIND to the hotly contested conception of the review system, for which Senaka Weeratana, a lawyer, believes we must thank/berate him - and not, repeat not, the ICC. He has been arguing for some time, and with some vehemence, that it was his letter to Colombo's Sunday Times, on April 6, 1997, the first of many such, that sowed the seeds. In an ocean of common sense, that letter likened the players' right to challenge to the appeal of a "dissatisfied litigant". As Simon Barnes put it recently in the Times: "Referral is not dissent, it is a legitimate process of truth-seeking."

At Old Trafford three months after Senaka's missive was published, Greg Blewett was given out to a horribly un-straightforward catch by Nasser Hussain - for which the available TV replays, foreshortening as they still do, proved inconclusive. Shane Warne went beserk; Alan Crompton, Australia's tour manager, dipped into Greek mythology. TV replays were already deployed for line decisions, he noted: how can you half-open Pandora's Box? That it took more than a decade to extend the principle is to be lamented, but better late than never. A decade and a half down the road and the big-screen test is finally here.

That there are inconsistencies and grey areas was underlined during the Ashes on an almost daily basis, descending to the unsightliness of Ricky Ponting and Aleem Dar's one-sided re-enactment of that Faisalabad fracas between Mike Gatting and Shakoor Rana. (Fines have clearly been no deterrent to Prickly Ricky, so bring on the red and yellow cards.)

More encouragingly, even while observing Michael Clarke swing effortlessly from Selfless Man of Principle to Cheating Bustard (for which, to give him his due, he did publicly and swiftly apologise), even a fully qualified cynic could sense a small revival for the occasionally noble art of walking. "There's less incentive to stay," as David Gower delicately put it on air after Clarke had thin-edged in Brisbane and offed himself. If you know you're going to look like a charlatan long before the morning papers slide under your hotel room door, why not buff up the image?

Technology has also, glory be, been a boon for spinners. "I wasn't a fan [of the UDRS] until I realised I could get 50 more lbws," chirped Graeme Swann. "It used to be so easy for left-handers to stick their leg down the middle and get away with it. I think reviews are the biggest single factor in the spinners' rise over the last couple of years."

On the other hand, as Sambit Bal has pointed out, whereas last year's haul of 32 successful reviews suggests the system has succeeded manfully/machine-fully in limiting those aforementioned howlers, the 89 unsuccessful ones infer that players are being manipulative, challenging "in hope rather than with conviction". Witness Ian Bell in Sydney as 2011 began. Given out caught off Shane Watson by Dar, he only requested a review after consulting his partner, Matt Prior. Something snick-like was certainly audible but Hot Spot detected nowt and, after a tolerable delay, Dar, having "gone upstairs", recanted. Whereupon Snicko, employed only for the viewers' benefit, appeared to confirm an edge, undermining Taufel's claim, on the manufacturer's website, that Hot Spot is "100%" effective. All of a sudden, our Belly bore rather less resemblance to the cherubic choirboy of common perception.

How in the name of Steve Bucknor's right forefinger can it possibly be right and proper that a batsman be adjudged leg-before in Perth yet survive the same delivery in Pune? It's not a matter of all or nothing; better some than none. It is a matter of principle and sound governance

Then there are those tactical/psychological reviews that seek only to boost a batsman or bowler's confidence, emphasising their value, or even as an early statement of aggression - "We're perfectly willing to waste one if it means getting under your skin…"

In the wake of the mini-firestorm in Brisbane after Ponting claimed he had caught Alastair Cook, the MCC World Cricket Committee, choc-a-bloc with illustrious ex-players, proposed that disputed low catches should not be sent to the third umpire because the cameras rarely clarify matters. Ah, but surely rarely is better than never? Ponting has long advocated that such catches should "stay on the field", i.e. be settled by some ancient, grossly exaggerated and ritually abused code of gentlemanly honour. Those WCC sages argued, quite rightly, that this would be fiendishly awkward to implement, so leave it to the umps.

I also heard an intriguing proposal from Alan Fordham, once an England A opener, now one of the wisest heads at the ECB. Rather than two reviews per innings, why not proffer a certain number per match, say half a dozen? That way, he reasons, there would be less chance of the more conspicuous breed of howler that spared Mike Hussey in Perth when England had run out of reviews. Make it four per side and I'm with him.

Enough food for thought, then, to nourish Archimedes. Happily the ICC is not indisposed to the odd tinker (though specifics are awaited). As chief executive Haroon Lorgat stressed mid-Ashes, just as temperatures and tempers were rising: "It is not there to get a wicket when you are struggling to find one, it is there to fix the obvious errors." (The decision to dispense with the less seemly "howler" was doubtless both conscious and corporate). Cook's referral on the fourth day in Brisbane, after being given out caught off an arm, was, according to Lorgat, a "classic" example, the very quintessence, of the UDRS. "That's exactly what it is for," he proclaimed, "and I'm quite confident we are near to the ideal. We will never have it 100% right." For once, it was hard to find much fault with a dispatch from Dubai.

Indeed, almost everywhere, for all the misgivings and gripes, the ayes have outnumbered the nays, and by some margin. "It's something that we all have to get used to, and it's taken us a while," admitted AB de Villiers, yet he'd like to see it "being used in all cricket". The bottom line? Has the UDRS made cricket juster? One proven edge would have achieved that; Hawk-Eye et al have delivered dozens more.

Of course, the gnawing problem of financing still looms as large and destructively as King Kong atop the Empire State Building. The principal quandary posed by the UDRS right now is neither its technical shortcomings nor ethical ramifications. Given the available solution, how in the name of Steve Bucknor's right forefinger can it possibly be right and proper that a batsman be adjudged leg-before in Perth yet survive the same delivery in Pune? It's not a matter of all or nothing; better some than none. It is a matter of principle and sound governance.

If the UDRS is deemed A Good Thing, then it is surely time to acknowledge that it is every bit as worthy of investment as stadiums and floodlights. And if Lorgat and his confreres can't persuade the broadcasters to go 50-50 on the cost of the technology, its priorities would be called into question even more fervently than they are already.

And so back to that final hurdle: India. All may rest on an early and successful referral by Sachin Tendulkar, or a profitable review against him. Simplistic and borderline insulting? Perhaps. Then again, for mankind in general and cricket-kind in particular, the future has a habit of hingeing on molehills of fate rather than mountains of reason.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 10, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    @samavb. I agree with you. You are a wise man(person?). A voice in the wilderness. It is costly in terms of $$ and time but if it is not available for every bad decision it should not be implemented. Why are a few wickets more important than the rest? Having said that, a deterrent for grossly misusing it should be there so that we don't make the overall cricket experience suffer.

  • cricinfo_oracle on February 10, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    hot-spot should have been included for the World Cup UDRS - end of story. I'm convinced that the failure to include hot-spot technology in WC2011 will be frustrating for spectators/fans, commentators, players and umpires - and will be harshly critiqued during and even after the tournament has concluded. Another ordinary decision by the ICC in the oracles opinion

  • iamgroot on February 10, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    the moment u keep restrictions on number of referrals there is every chance that it will go against many ...what if after all the three referrals are over and then u r in a situation where if referral was taken correct decision was made? ..and how can anyone limit the number of times the team can ask for referral.. ? it will be more than handy if they take out that restriction....and teams will welcome it more if it plays a part in correcting every bad decision.. which should be main intention of URDS and nothing else.. otherwise there is no point in using it... even without hotspot..they can still use it when slo motion cameras are operating from different angles.. and anyway umpires are referring to third umpire for any thing they are not sure so why not use technology more effeciently to overcome some howlers . dont put restriction on number of referrals.. that will be biggest drawback of URDS and that might be one of the reasons why Indian team doesnt want it to be in place..

  • TrexTrainer on February 10, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    I don't understand why Sachin Tendulkar who has been at the receiving end of many wooful decisions is against this.

  • Jim1207 on February 10, 2011, 2:46 GMT

    How about this option? Let's see if anyone agrees with me. UDRS is a machine as per the author so it should be able to quickly process and give the result in few seconds. So let's say a wrong decision is given on field. There is no need of review system, chair a fourth umpire and ask him to operate UDRS constantly and give the answer in few seconds after every ball. So, when a wrong decision happens on the field, let the fourth umpire announce the correct decision by any correct means as quickly as possible. Then show the replays to public and TV. So, almost all wrong decisions would be corrected without wasting time at all, and without asking anybody to review or without Ponting's tragic attempts. This way, you don't have to worry about 4 or 6 reviews and still lament after running out of all reviews for yet another howler. This way, it's more closer to ideal or eliminating imperfections. Of course, not much drama. If you need drama, let it be as it is now, I'm happy without UDRS too.

  • on February 10, 2011, 2:44 GMT

    Why do you go to a doctor when you are ill are you sure medicine (a technology ) will certainly cure it......No . Technology only increses probability of right decision.

    We all live by the rule of prbability.

    It is proven that use of technology increses right decision significantly. Apart from Simon toufel Aleem Darno other umpire gives even 50 % right decisions in game. People only remember wrongly given out decisions. there are numerous wrong not out lbw decisions by umpiress because ther are too unsure even when ball is hitting midle stump. Yes relying on soly hot spot is not good because obviously in case of fine nick bat doesnt absorb enough energy to radiate enough heat to show bright spot. In that case sniko must be used in conjunction with it. However hawkeye trajectory extrapolation is perfect. as it is based on newton laws and you cannot deny newton laws

  • uqspratt on February 10, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    What exactly is the rule when it comes to benefit of the doubt? For UDRS it should be 'benefit of the doubt goes to the umpire', so decisions should stand unless there is reason to overturn them. This seems to be applied for LBW but not for catches. Too often for catches the UDRS seems to try to make a decision rather than look for evidence showing that the orginal decision was wrong.

  • BillyBlue on February 10, 2011, 0:46 GMT

    @Zahidsaltin - Totally agree with you. Adding commerciasl & water breaks will provide the finance & conversely the incentive to fund UDRS. I think 3 challenges per team should be a minimum, but no more than 5. Failed challenges should count for a loss of 1-2 balls faced in the over (if challenged by the batting side) and for 1-5 runs added to the batting side (if challeged by the bowling side). This would prevent unnecessary challenges from batsmen & bowlers for the fear of the penalty costing the team the match. Finally the 3rd Umpire HAS TO BE MORE PROACTIVE! He must be given the authority & BE EXPECTED TO review & step in, if he considers a call erroneous, even if not requested by onfield umpires or players. We do it anyways to check to see, if any parts of the players body touched the rope, when they are sliding/diving to stop a boundry. Why not take that principle further?

  • gothetaniwha on February 9, 2011, 22:22 GMT

    UDRS needs to be implemented , why not use the third umpire for this , after all he is suppose to be watching the game and take the challenges away from batsmen who waste challenges .

  • on February 9, 2011, 22:00 GMT

    @DC75, this is not the NFL, it is cricket. It lot more detailed and not simplistic like NFL, there are so many rules and laws that a player must follow. Plus we don't have a timeout in cricket. Maybe deducting an over for an unsuccessful attempt. Plus the replays are never shown on big screen tv in the sub continent because of close calls making public angry with their favorite players' wicket on the line, the replays are only shown to the crowd outside the sub continent.

  • on February 10, 2011, 14:53 GMT

    @samavb. I agree with you. You are a wise man(person?). A voice in the wilderness. It is costly in terms of $$ and time but if it is not available for every bad decision it should not be implemented. Why are a few wickets more important than the rest? Having said that, a deterrent for grossly misusing it should be there so that we don't make the overall cricket experience suffer.

  • cricinfo_oracle on February 10, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    hot-spot should have been included for the World Cup UDRS - end of story. I'm convinced that the failure to include hot-spot technology in WC2011 will be frustrating for spectators/fans, commentators, players and umpires - and will be harshly critiqued during and even after the tournament has concluded. Another ordinary decision by the ICC in the oracles opinion

  • iamgroot on February 10, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    the moment u keep restrictions on number of referrals there is every chance that it will go against many ...what if after all the three referrals are over and then u r in a situation where if referral was taken correct decision was made? ..and how can anyone limit the number of times the team can ask for referral.. ? it will be more than handy if they take out that restriction....and teams will welcome it more if it plays a part in correcting every bad decision.. which should be main intention of URDS and nothing else.. otherwise there is no point in using it... even without hotspot..they can still use it when slo motion cameras are operating from different angles.. and anyway umpires are referring to third umpire for any thing they are not sure so why not use technology more effeciently to overcome some howlers . dont put restriction on number of referrals.. that will be biggest drawback of URDS and that might be one of the reasons why Indian team doesnt want it to be in place..

  • TrexTrainer on February 10, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    I don't understand why Sachin Tendulkar who has been at the receiving end of many wooful decisions is against this.

  • Jim1207 on February 10, 2011, 2:46 GMT

    How about this option? Let's see if anyone agrees with me. UDRS is a machine as per the author so it should be able to quickly process and give the result in few seconds. So let's say a wrong decision is given on field. There is no need of review system, chair a fourth umpire and ask him to operate UDRS constantly and give the answer in few seconds after every ball. So, when a wrong decision happens on the field, let the fourth umpire announce the correct decision by any correct means as quickly as possible. Then show the replays to public and TV. So, almost all wrong decisions would be corrected without wasting time at all, and without asking anybody to review or without Ponting's tragic attempts. This way, you don't have to worry about 4 or 6 reviews and still lament after running out of all reviews for yet another howler. This way, it's more closer to ideal or eliminating imperfections. Of course, not much drama. If you need drama, let it be as it is now, I'm happy without UDRS too.

  • on February 10, 2011, 2:44 GMT

    Why do you go to a doctor when you are ill are you sure medicine (a technology ) will certainly cure it......No . Technology only increses probability of right decision.

    We all live by the rule of prbability.

    It is proven that use of technology increses right decision significantly. Apart from Simon toufel Aleem Darno other umpire gives even 50 % right decisions in game. People only remember wrongly given out decisions. there are numerous wrong not out lbw decisions by umpiress because ther are too unsure even when ball is hitting midle stump. Yes relying on soly hot spot is not good because obviously in case of fine nick bat doesnt absorb enough energy to radiate enough heat to show bright spot. In that case sniko must be used in conjunction with it. However hawkeye trajectory extrapolation is perfect. as it is based on newton laws and you cannot deny newton laws

  • uqspratt on February 10, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    What exactly is the rule when it comes to benefit of the doubt? For UDRS it should be 'benefit of the doubt goes to the umpire', so decisions should stand unless there is reason to overturn them. This seems to be applied for LBW but not for catches. Too often for catches the UDRS seems to try to make a decision rather than look for evidence showing that the orginal decision was wrong.

  • BillyBlue on February 10, 2011, 0:46 GMT

    @Zahidsaltin - Totally agree with you. Adding commerciasl & water breaks will provide the finance & conversely the incentive to fund UDRS. I think 3 challenges per team should be a minimum, but no more than 5. Failed challenges should count for a loss of 1-2 balls faced in the over (if challenged by the batting side) and for 1-5 runs added to the batting side (if challeged by the bowling side). This would prevent unnecessary challenges from batsmen & bowlers for the fear of the penalty costing the team the match. Finally the 3rd Umpire HAS TO BE MORE PROACTIVE! He must be given the authority & BE EXPECTED TO review & step in, if he considers a call erroneous, even if not requested by onfield umpires or players. We do it anyways to check to see, if any parts of the players body touched the rope, when they are sliding/diving to stop a boundry. Why not take that principle further?

  • gothetaniwha on February 9, 2011, 22:22 GMT

    UDRS needs to be implemented , why not use the third umpire for this , after all he is suppose to be watching the game and take the challenges away from batsmen who waste challenges .

  • on February 9, 2011, 22:00 GMT

    @DC75, this is not the NFL, it is cricket. It lot more detailed and not simplistic like NFL, there are so many rules and laws that a player must follow. Plus we don't have a timeout in cricket. Maybe deducting an over for an unsuccessful attempt. Plus the replays are never shown on big screen tv in the sub continent because of close calls making public angry with their favorite players' wicket on the line, the replays are only shown to the crowd outside the sub continent.

  • kamalrb on February 9, 2011, 20:17 GMT

    Hot spot is the only technology that is reliable so far in cricket to make accurate decisions on feather snicks and bat-pad lbws. Unfortunately, that is not being used in this WC. I agree with the author's comments that technology used in this WC and its outcome will have bearing on the future of this format of the game.

  • DC75 on February 9, 2011, 18:47 GMT

    I think Cricket should adapt the American Foot Ball referral system (NFL). Each team has three challenges and they loose a timeout (a very critical thing in NFL) when they loose the challenge. A challenge is invoked by the Coach of the team challenging a play by throwing a red flag on the field before the commencement of the next play. Something similar can be done by the Team coach to have a say whether the decision should be challenged or not. The other thing in football is that the challenges in the last two minutes of the half come from the supporting staff watching replays. Replays are not shown on the screen in the stadium, taking the crowd pressure out of the equation. I believe it is better system than a batsman challenging an obvious out or as many have pointed out, the referals are used by the top order batsmen.

  • ap27 on February 9, 2011, 17:33 GMT

    Well, I can't say technology is so much of a success in tennis as the author states here. Obvious thing I can't digest is the area a tennis ball covers when it touches the ground. A circular object like a ball can only have a single point contact with ground, not the round shaped shadow as they show. Stats show that line umpires are overwhelmingly right in decisions.

    Coming back to Cricket, I agree that technology can assist in caught behind, silly point catches, low catches etc.

    But it is horrible lack of common sense to use it for LBWs. When it come to LBWs, any technology's ball trajectory forecasting is only as good as the programmer who wrote it. On any today, I would believe a umpire rather a programmer.

  • crikkfan on February 9, 2011, 17:21 GMT

    now if UDRS could s o m e h o w be taken out of the hands of the fielding and batting sides and be implemented by the umpires directly a la official reviews in NFL, that will definitely be a positive step toward making it more universal. Maybe a mandatory 30-sec window for every lbw and caught behind dismissal could be provided for the review umpires to validate on-field decision. The tricky part will still be the 'non-dismissals' which can be still be referred as per field umpires discretion. This will take the matter entirely out of playing teams - no more manipulative tactical reviews which imo undermines this system a lot currently. Thoughts?

  • shreekar on February 9, 2011, 17:18 GMT

    India is not the only team playing cricket - if everyone else agrees to UDRS - just implement it. As the rules currently stand, the Home Board has the privilege. So only matches held in India would not have the UDRS. But, Ind-SA series did not have the UDRS - how is it India's fault? If the system is thought to be so good, all other boards should simply decline playing matches in India. Nothing of this sort has happened. So singling India out is just a gimmick.

  • Biggus on February 9, 2011, 17:16 GMT

    @Shane Bon Jones-Oops, It's too late and I should have gone to sleep some time ago hence my misreading of your post. A thousand pardons! Feeling a wee bit silly. Cheers!

  • Biggus on February 9, 2011, 17:05 GMT

    @Shane Bo Jones-To stand there when you know you've hit it and hope that the umpire gives you not out is one thing, but when the umpire subsequently get it right and sends you packing and you call for a review, well, that's another. Should he walk in the first instance? Well, that's a matter for the player. Should he walk when he's correctly given out. Surely! To characterise this as just an example of not 'walking' is disingenuous and specious. Bell's misuse of the review merely gave opponents of the largely meritorious system the ammunition they needed to justify blocking it, and I was reminded of the words of another fellow who once said (apparently), "Forgive them lord, for they know not what they've done". No-one will an unbiased mind will ever look at Bell in quite the same way again.

  • on February 9, 2011, 16:58 GMT

    We also need to consider the impact that this may have on the length of the game. Already there are many who find ODIs too long and boring, UDRS will only add to it. Secondly, all those jokers suggesting that ICC should enforce the rule even if BCCI does not want it, they would have done it if they could. Just check their record before BCCI started contributing almost all the money that ICC has. Using your own argument, if you don't like BCCI being strongest (like UK and Australia were for a very long time) then go watch some other sport, as this will be the norm in cricket. Third, saying that Indians are opposing it as they don't want tech, is being ignorant. Most Indian players have said that they don't support it as it is not the best possible solution. What's the problem in getting the best tech available? And the point raised about number of reviews is also quite debatable. Its like with DWL, the game will still be unfair many times, just in a different way than before.

  • Zahidsaltin on February 9, 2011, 16:40 GMT

    A 15 seconds time for advertising should be added to every review. that will be enough to finance the thing. I will even add another water break to facilitate advertisements which can then finance the system. I also think that there should be allowed 3 reviews per innings so that something left for rescue of lower order bats.

  • binojpeter on February 9, 2011, 16:39 GMT

    Personally, I don't mind using review for snicks or close catches. But Hawk eye technology for lbw decision is highly unreliable. Projecting the trajectory of delivery with software cannot be relied on.

  • krv954 on February 9, 2011, 16:31 GMT

    I suggest a few changes to the process

    1) Take it out of the hands of BCCI/India/Sachin. ICC should make this mandatory or not at all. 2) I see a few recommendations that there shouldn't be a limit on the number appeals and that you should penalize runs for every wrong appeal. I agree to the unlimited appeals. But instead of penalizing runs, I would say penalize the over rate. If it is a successful appeal, then the team be given credit for over rate. If it is unsuccessful appeal, then the captain and team should be docked for overrates. I think that should act as a deterrent for unnecesary appeal. I am sure, no captain or team would want to unnecessarliy get fines and be suspended for games.

  • on February 9, 2011, 16:00 GMT

    The Bell decision , let me explain.

    In the Ashes, Bell was given out caught behind by the field umpire, the batsman asked for review, the hotspot did not show conclusive contact, he was given the benefit of the doubt, snicko indicated that yes he did hit it, however this was 2 mins later, and he was already given not out although the field umpire had given him out!

    So if the technology cannot judge if he is in or out or not surely the Field umpires ruling stands..... The computer has given the batsman the benefit of the doubt....

    Should he walk?? Never! You never dispute the umpires decision, that's the cardinal rule of cricket...or it was....

    What does it all mean???

    The end of cricket as we know it!

  • on February 9, 2011, 15:55 GMT

    How can UDRS or any technology be fair unless it is applied to every dubious verdict?

    Are only the first four referrals/team important in a match important, Mr. Steen?

  • asubrahm on February 9, 2011, 15:13 GMT

    The real reason India does not like UDRS is the element of discretion. They are scared the top order batsmen will abuse it for silly cases, leaving fewer discretion for the bottom order batsmen. Similarly, they are scared the star bowlers will wing it for marginal cases. The problem is that the team does not trust itself to think of UDRS review choices as a team decision and is scared individual players will abuse it for selfish reasons.

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on February 9, 2011, 14:11 GMT

    @RohCricket, actually if it were Ponting not only does he have a right to appeal he has the right to give a batsman out too..else...toys, pram, etc. Great fun!

  • JulianDawson on February 9, 2011, 12:57 GMT

    Getting the decision right or wrong can affect a cricketers whole career. Rewind to the Headingley Test in 2009. No UDRS. England are making a pig's breakfast of the second innings. In comes Ravi Bopara. Batting to save his test career. Given out LBW, the ball had clearly hit the bat and would have been overturned by UDRS. Conceivably he could have gone on to make a significant innings. Bopara made a negligible score, he was dropped and Jonathan Trott was picked for the Oval. The rest, as they say, is history.

  • CliffM on February 9, 2011, 12:23 GMT

    I am mystified - in what way has 'Hot Spot proven so effective in tennis'. I have never seen it used in tennis. While there might be an argument for using it to judge net cords, as far as I am aware, it never has been. Perhaps Rob Steen is confusing Hot Spot with Hawkeye, which has been an outstanding success in tennis; not all players like it or believe it to be entirely accurate but it is consistent and therefore removes the human error element from line calls.

    Technology in cricket is here to stay. Let's stop debating whether it is used and concentrate on how it's used and how it can be improved. Let's test whether stickers on the edge of bat can fool Hot Spot and, if so, ban them. The number of reviews needs to be reconsidered. Two per innings or four per team match are both nonsensical as they take no account of the length of an innings and therefore often discriminate against lower order batsmen because the top order have wasted them. How about one for each 50 overs?

  • on February 9, 2011, 12:00 GMT

    I liked this article. Especially agree with how Ian Bell came out of Sydney looking less than honest, making the most undeserved century since Matt Hayden's debut hundred against the Windies in 97. Rohcricket - amen. Before UDRS, there were hundreds of times throughout test history where umpires gave LBWs that were probably going over the top by a couple of inches. Was that the case the Tendulkar at ADL in 99? Maybe. We'll never know for sure, but Sachin is a very little man who ducked on an uneven pitch. But, for the umpteenth time, SRT fans, GET OVER IT ALREADY!

  • RohCricket on February 9, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    IntrinsicPseud i think that the shoulder before wicket was not a howler because he was blocking the wicket. lbw doesnt necessarily mean the ball has to ht the leg. if the ball strikes you in front of the stumps, no matter where it hits you (except the hand, glove), the fielding team has a right to appeal.

  • on February 9, 2011, 10:37 GMT

    Where is the data?

    You are quoting figures ("32 successful reviews...89 unsuccessful ones") that are not available to the cricket public.

    Why doesn't Cricinfo publish UDRS data in Statsguru? Seriously.

  • on February 9, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    It is beyond doubt that judicious use of technology can help eliminate clangers from the system. But, the more widespread it has been of late, more doubts have surfaced whether this kind of one-dimensional approach is capable of resolving marginal cases where a a decision in question could change the outcome of the match. As a result, the human judgemental component should always be held paramount. Appointment of strictly "able-bodied" umpires should be considered as a more viable option, as most of the marginal lbw calls require more than a decision framework--something called educated human judgement.

  • VicMackey on February 9, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    @simplyanand .. Worst idea ever !

  • on February 9, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    @TheHonestCritic: couldn't agree more.. Infact I remember Dhoni said almost the same thing after some horrendous decisions during last series- just that the words were a bit politically correct ;)

  • adityap on February 9, 2011, 9:54 GMT

    How about removing the option from the player's hands? The UDRS in its current form is tantamount to a player challenging the umpire's decision - which was (still is!) against the law.

    A modification that would help a lot more is to allow the 3rd umpire to intervene directly if he feels that any decision was taken incorrectly. He can call the on field umpires on their radios and they can then take the steps necessary to reverse the decision.

  • IntrinsicPseud on February 9, 2011, 9:19 GMT

    Couldn't agree more about the future of UDRS being dependent on whether Tendulkar gets a favourable review for himself or not. It is also befitting because, since the time of his debut, he must be the man who got many howlers and borderline decisions going against him. The shoulder before wicket for example, is a case in point.

  • havefun2008 on February 9, 2011, 8:53 GMT

    Mr. Steen, very disappointing article again on UDRS, Is hot spot and UDRS a good thing, it is better than a human umpire? I have n't seen anyone writing an article about by how much this system is better than human in all the different conditions of the world cricket grounds. what is the measurement error + or - 1% ? + or - 5? under different conditions for hot spots and hawk eye predictions?, how the cameras and instruments are calibrated to ensure that the error does not exceed certain percentage world wide? the system has to be reliable, repeatable, and accurate in different conditions of the world. ICC and manufacturers should publish scientific guideline for use of UDRS and make the process transparent for setting up the UDRS until then there will be lot of emotional articles and questions about the use of UDRS.

  • simplyanand on February 9, 2011, 8:33 GMT

    Great article Rob....I have an idea - how about unlimited referalls for each team - two per innings will be free, the remaining will cost 25 runs per wrong appeal. If the team is batting, 25 runs will be docked for a wrong appeal and if the team is bowling, 25 runs will be added to the batting team

  • Abdul-Jabbar on February 9, 2011, 8:24 GMT

    Very good article. UDRS is logical, reasonable and inevitable. Indian cricket board and those who are arguing against UDRS are just delaying the inevitable. Sports lovers all over the world like to see correct decisions in sports, whether they be made by field umpires or through technology. ICC should make the use of UDRS compulsory for all the internatinal matches.

  • pobox1916 on February 9, 2011, 8:17 GMT

    That the future hinges on a molehill with the BCCI has already been proven with T20 and how! Were it not for the Misbah miscue that handed India the inaugral T20 WC, BCCI would still be negotiating for avoiding T20s in bilateral series and scoff at this version of the game as another cricketing gimmickry instead of a money-spinning innovation.

  • popcorn on February 9, 2011, 8:15 GMT

    The Indians - specifically, Tendulkar,Dravid, Dboni and BCCI do not run World Cricket. ICC does. If India do not want to play with UDRS, ICC should enforce it. If India stiill does not want to play, take them out of the ICC member countries.

  • Mitcher on February 9, 2011, 8:12 GMT

    "This is not about attaining perfection but reducing imperfection." Exactly. Are you listening India?

  • TheHonestCritic on February 9, 2011, 8:07 GMT

    Want BCCI/INDIA to use UDRS? solution is simple .. just START GIVING WRONG LBW OR CAUGHT BEHIND DECISIONS TO SACHIN TENDULKAR.

  • Tasrrr on February 9, 2011, 7:53 GMT

    I heard one of the radio commentators during the ashes suggest if the original decision is upheld 10 run penalty be given in order to cut out the frivolous referrals towards the end of an innings.

  • nzcricket174 on February 9, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    Now all we need is India to get to the finals, Sachin Tendulkar to be given lbw off a huge inside edge, and then for him to review it. Would that solve any problems? As you saw in the recent Aussie v Pommie ODI series, the reviews were scarcely used. Some of the reviews were pure idiotic, such as when Matt Prior was given lbw and hawk eye suggested the ball would be hitting middle/leg stump, halfway up.

  • Prats6 on February 9, 2011, 7:28 GMT

    The earlier India accepts UDRS,the better for us. Seriously this stupidity has gone on for a long time now.

  • Al_Entity on February 9, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    Well said especially the last past about India and Tendulkar! Couldn't agree more!

  • Beef_ on February 9, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Excellent article!!! The last sentence said it all... "Then again, for mankind in general and cricket-kind in particular, the future has a habit of hingeing on molehills of fate rather than mountains of reason."

  • Sanki88 on February 9, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Exactly, I think most Indian players are against the UDRS because of how horribly they used up their reviews in Sri Lanka while their opponents used it to good effect. I hope that an umpire will give out Tendulkar out wrongly on purpose and make him take a review, for all good!

  • on February 9, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    It is unfair to imply that India is objecting to UDRS bcoz Sachin is against it Is it really the reason? Rajgopalan

  • on February 9, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    This argument has defined the word "specious reasoning" for me much better than oxford,websteror my own personal favorite - Cambridge dictionaries.

    "Given the available solution, how in the name of Steve Bucknor's right forefinger can it possibly be right and proper that a batsman be adjudged leg-before in Perth yet survive the same delivery in Pune? It's not a matter of all or nothing; better some than none. It is a matter of principle and sound governance. "

    How can it be the same delivery in Pune? This argument fails even in Perth for the 5th suspicious wicket when you have only four referrals/team in the match. Either have it available for every incident or not at all without resorting to half-assed arguments. Better "some than none" doesn't work. Which 'some' and 'none' and who governs that? Some match referree whose loyalties can be questioned? ... and them blame the BCCI for objeciting to some one-sided decision? Are we ready to open this can of worms?

  • Reverend-Vicious on February 9, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    Time for the BCCI and Indian supporters to chime in!

  • natasrik on February 9, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    Irrespective of technology, which anyway changes with time, UDRS should have been used long time back. Now with such an important tournament like WC at stake, Indian team will have to deal with the same as well as the extra pressure of playing in home soil. India last played with UDRS against SL almost 30 months back and Indians were at receiving end on that occassion. I hope team India remove the mental block and play with positive intent but having said that I would say using UDRS for this WC, will have impact on Sachins overall batting performance in this WC. But since it is ICC event, neither BCCI nor Sachin can over rule the same. So have to wait and watch and hope Sachin gets the best out of it.

  • on February 9, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE RESULT OF THE WORLD CUP IF INDIA LOSE, KISS IT GOODBYE!

  • Dubby49 on February 9, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    I'm all for UDRS with one exception. i.e Catches. Given the element of doubt caused by technical limitations, unless a review shows a ball has CLEARLY grounded, the benefit of doubt should go to the fielder. Anything else would be a travesty of the system.

  • gururajan23 on February 9, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    yeah, you are right about the last para. Its ridiculous that common sense didnt prevail in Indian board. Hope it becomes mandatory after going forward.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • gururajan23 on February 9, 2011, 5:03 GMT

    yeah, you are right about the last para. Its ridiculous that common sense didnt prevail in Indian board. Hope it becomes mandatory after going forward.

  • Dubby49 on February 9, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    I'm all for UDRS with one exception. i.e Catches. Given the element of doubt caused by technical limitations, unless a review shows a ball has CLEARLY grounded, the benefit of doubt should go to the fielder. Anything else would be a travesty of the system.

  • on February 9, 2011, 5:09 GMT

    IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE RESULT OF THE WORLD CUP IF INDIA LOSE, KISS IT GOODBYE!

  • natasrik on February 9, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    Irrespective of technology, which anyway changes with time, UDRS should have been used long time back. Now with such an important tournament like WC at stake, Indian team will have to deal with the same as well as the extra pressure of playing in home soil. India last played with UDRS against SL almost 30 months back and Indians were at receiving end on that occassion. I hope team India remove the mental block and play with positive intent but having said that I would say using UDRS for this WC, will have impact on Sachins overall batting performance in this WC. But since it is ICC event, neither BCCI nor Sachin can over rule the same. So have to wait and watch and hope Sachin gets the best out of it.

  • Reverend-Vicious on February 9, 2011, 5:19 GMT

    Time for the BCCI and Indian supporters to chime in!

  • on February 9, 2011, 6:31 GMT

    This argument has defined the word "specious reasoning" for me much better than oxford,websteror my own personal favorite - Cambridge dictionaries.

    "Given the available solution, how in the name of Steve Bucknor's right forefinger can it possibly be right and proper that a batsman be adjudged leg-before in Perth yet survive the same delivery in Pune? It's not a matter of all or nothing; better some than none. It is a matter of principle and sound governance. "

    How can it be the same delivery in Pune? This argument fails even in Perth for the 5th suspicious wicket when you have only four referrals/team in the match. Either have it available for every incident or not at all without resorting to half-assed arguments. Better "some than none" doesn't work. Which 'some' and 'none' and who governs that? Some match referree whose loyalties can be questioned? ... and them blame the BCCI for objeciting to some one-sided decision? Are we ready to open this can of worms?

  • on February 9, 2011, 6:52 GMT

    It is unfair to imply that India is objecting to UDRS bcoz Sachin is against it Is it really the reason? Rajgopalan

  • Sanki88 on February 9, 2011, 7:02 GMT

    Exactly, I think most Indian players are against the UDRS because of how horribly they used up their reviews in Sri Lanka while their opponents used it to good effect. I hope that an umpire will give out Tendulkar out wrongly on purpose and make him take a review, for all good!

  • Beef_ on February 9, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Excellent article!!! The last sentence said it all... "Then again, for mankind in general and cricket-kind in particular, the future has a habit of hingeing on molehills of fate rather than mountains of reason."

  • Al_Entity on February 9, 2011, 7:07 GMT

    Well said especially the last past about India and Tendulkar! Couldn't agree more!