The DRS debate June 28, 2012

Greig has yorked himself over DRS

Martin Crowe
The BCCI is in the right over the DRS; the ICC has been wrong from day one but doesn't want to admit it

Tony Greig's Cowdrey Lecture was full of firm strokes, mixed with some seaming medium pace deliveries. A fine all round performance, as always.

However, when it came to the DRS he yorked himself. Greig's rebuke of the BCCI is easily delivered these days, but not necessarily courageous. The BCCI has every right to take its stance; more to the point, its stance is the only one with courage.

From the outset the DRS system has been flawed in design and execution, and has continued to disappoint. In fact, it got to the point this year when the creator of Virtual Eye, Ian Taylor from Dunedin, cried out loud that, with the players criticising the system so much, he thought it was time for the DRS to start again, to go back to the drawing board. This was a truly honest moment and I for one stood and applauded Taylor. As the techno, he was actually saying this was too hard in its present form and therefore was in effect potentially removing his company from the work. It was a significant revelation, one at which the BCCI would have been seen nodding its approval and feeling some justification.

But not the ICC, it carried on blindly. Now, we hear that further guessing is going on with different variations to the number of challenges for Tests and ODIs. What could possibly be the rationale of having two unsuccessful challenges per innings for Tests and one for ODIs?

Back in 2007, when the DRS was first discussed, the advice to the ICC was to run with a player challenge system as tennis does, using Hawkeye's actual path for all line calls and super-slo-mo cameras for edges and catches. There would be only one unsuccessful challenge on offer due to the complexity of umpiring compared with tennis, which requires only a simple in or out call.

One unsuccessful challenge would be enough to remove the howler, the bad mistake, the error that every umpire makes now and then and especially under tired duress. When this happens the players simply step in and say 'We'd better check that please'. The decision gets reversed and the challenge system carries on.

Greig's rebuke of the BCCI is easily delivered these days, but not necessarily courageous. The BCCI has every right to take its stance; more to the point, its stance is the only one with courage

Naively, though, the ICC started with three unsuccessful challenges (one assumes because that's what tennis had), then a year later realised its error and dropped it to two, now it has realised its folly once more and dropped it again to one. Bravo! But why not for Tests? This is a time when the ICC must look for uniformity in all forms and on all networks. Instead, it confuses all by hedging.

The BCCI isn't the most flexible but surely it would agree to some use of technology? Surely it would agree to the DRS if the predictive path was abolished, as Taylor suggested it should. Surely the BCCI would agree to the DRS if there was only one unsuccessful challenge available instead of this 50-50 nonsense that goes on when captains and batsmen know they have at least one challenge to gamble with. All the gamble does is expose the technology far too often.

Last week the ICC said Ed Rosten, a Cambridge professor, had given ball-tracking technology the 100% tick. Yet Ian Taylor, the creator of Virtual ball tracking says it isn't 100%. Whom shall we believe? The inventor, of course, not the professor.

The BCCI, including Tendulkar, Dravid and Kumble, is in the right. Surely all it wants is for the system to be trimmed right back. But the ICC doesn't want to admit it has been wrong on this from day one.

The stalemate continues.

Martin Crowe is a former New Zealand captain

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