Mark Nicholas
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Former Hampshire batsman; host of Channel Nine's cricket coverage

Use the DRS to get rid of howlers, not to strive for perfection

Cricket is not a perfect science, nor is television coverage. The quest should not be for perfect decisions but to eliminate appalling ones

Mark Nicholas

December 20, 2012

Comments: 73 | Text size: A | A

Peter Siddle has Kumar Sangakkara trapped lbw, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 5th day, December 18, 2012
The way the DRS works now, every leading batsman is obliged to refer decisions for the sake of his team © Getty Images

The overriding reaction in the Australian dressing room after Tuesday's last-gasp win against Sri Lanka will have been "Phew."

To win the toss, declare the first innings at five wickets down, then bowl last on an up-and-down pitch was to lay down the law. Failure to enforce it would have tested everybody's patience - captain and coach, selectors and supporters alike. So exasperated was Michael Clarke that he instructed Matthew Wade to whip off the pads and gloves and bowl an over of mediums that were as much instructional as anything else. Wade's pre-tea adventure, with Sri Lanka only four wickets down at the time, included attempts at a bouncer, a yorker and a grubber, i.e. guys, yes, you guys picked to bowl for Australia, pull a finger out.

Clarke admitted to thoughts of Adelaide and the ghost of Faf du Plessis. How could he not? The parallels were there. A match seemingly in the bag but on a pitch offering precious little sideways movement, with a bowler out of action, a chance or two gone begging and a stubborn opponent sensing a miracle. Of course, Sri Lanka are not a patch on South Africa at the momeht. But the mind does funny things.

Unshaven beneath the famous green cap, wrapped in long-sleeve wool and with hands often warmed by his pockets, Clarke's animation through the afternoon was a show of its own. He had Adelaide within him, eating away, the damn injustice of it. Head thrown back in disbelief, the ribbed irony in moments of misfortune, the hidden furiousness at sloppiness by his own men, then the umpires, the DRS, the slow pitch, the scattered showers, the ticking clock... Adelaide, Adelaide, drip, drip, Adelaide.

Thank the almighty for Peter Siddle, he of the coal face. Splendidly embattled, Siddle kept coming, like the Black Knight on horseback in Monty Python's Holy Grail: "Think you've got me now, do you?" says the Black Knight, approximately. "Listen, you idiot," replies King Arthur, who is cutting him to shreds, "you've got no arms left." "Just a flesh wound," says the Black Knight.

Never mind the dry mouth, the tight hamstrings, the aching joints. This Victorian has a soaring heart and a deep soul. Siddle is as likely to give in as Julia Gillard. Even Mitchell Starc could see that. Inspired by the spiritual leader of the attack and stung by the humiliation of Wade's six balls of high-octane dross, Starc suddenly bowled fast. A wind of change blew through him. He bowled so fast that batsmen were ducking and weaving and calling for attention. Simple as it sounds now, the full ball - good length, half volley, yorker or full toss - took on an entirely new meaning. "Hey buddy, wanna lunge forward to me now?"

As far as a spectator can feel sorry for a cricketer, you felt sorry for Rangana Herath. All those big names afore him and only one proper strike to the body. Angelo Mathews' body. Now here was little, portly Herath fending for his life and the match. He didn't last, nor did the match. Starc was brilliant, and from the time that became clear, his captain took it a little easier on himself. Phew.

It was a good match, if something of an anti-climax after the hardcore series against South Africa. The Sri Lankans did particularly well to prolong it given the mood of the pitch. For Australia it answered few questions and brought more injuries

It was a good match, if something of an anti-climax after the hardcore series against South Africa. The Sri Lankans did particularly well to prolong it given the mood of the pitch. For Australia it answered few questions and brought more injuries.

The weather was, well, English. The crowds were anything but crowds, more sprinklings of spectators among whom were schoolchildren bussed in for the buzz. Hobart has much in its favour but that alone does not justify the ownership of a Test match. The ground will surely be full for the one-day game in January. Familiar?

And it was a poor match for the DRS through no fault of its own. Sri Lanka used it badly, or supposedly tactically. Australia used it when all else failed. Once, Clarke could be heard on the stump microphone saying, "It was going over" or "He hit it", or some such thing, but still bowed to the pleas of his bowler. Clarke was right, incidentally. Jayawardene appeared almost amused by his team's uselessness with it. In the first innings poor Herath, yes him again, was on the wrong end of a shocker because the great and good before him had used up the quota.

The DRS was introduced to rid the game of really bad decisions - "howlers" as the cliché goes. Sportsmen are notorious for seizing the main chance, and cricketers are doing so - at least most of them are - in an attempt to mitigate their own error, not that of the umpire. It is a default position for the good player and an offer of hope for the mediocre. Kumar Sangakkara turned to it three times. He had to. It is an obligation to the team and the nation. If the best batsmen can have two or three lives, they must. This is common sense. Imagine Sir Donald Bradman's average with the DRS. Twice it went with Sangakkara, the third time it did not. Others, less worthy, pay the price. The system stutters because of it.

Just as disconcerting is the time the DRS takes to reach a verdict. "Dot every i, cross every t" seems to be the instruction. It's a dog's dinner. Cut to the quick. If it is an lbw shout let us first see if the ball is hitting the stumps and work back from there, not spend an age scrutinising Hot Spot. Hot Spot should be lbw's last reference, not its first, unless the on-field umpire specifically says to the third umpire that the batsman might or might not have hit the ball.

It is unlikely that the game will go back in time with the use of technology, so the challenge is to improve what it has. Cricket is not a perfect science, nor is television coverage. The quest should not be for perfect decision-making, rather for the elimination of appalling decisions that may unfairly determine the outcome of a match. If the ICC works within that parameter, it may establish more satisfactory outcomes. Who knows, even India might welcome it then.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

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Posted by   on (December 23, 2012, 1:41 GMT)

EdwardTLogan on (December 20 2012, 04:16 AM GMT)

Mark, you have nailed the issues with DRS 100%. .......................... EXACTLY ..........

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 22, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

I also recommend this option in the worse case especially for financially struggling cricket boards like Sri Lanka. Surely why cant the batsman appeal to see if the ball pitches outside leg (when a right arm bowler bowls over the wicket to a left hander and when a left arm bowler bowls over the wicket to a right hander) and also appeal to see if the ball hit the pads inline with the wicket. Surely you dont have to pay for expensive graphics for that? Just the carpet layout of the ball pitching point is sufficient to ensure more correct decisions.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 22, 2012, 2:22 GMT)

The obvious objection to what I have just suggested is that "but how can we be sure that if it's only the width of the stitching that the DRS could be THAT accurate. Answer is 'we can't', but there is not emotion or bias the DRS is just algorithms, meaning it would be expected to be wrong in superfine decisions on a 50/50 basis, so we just accept it.

You might have another objection and say, 'well if it's that fine then the on field umpire might just as well toss a coin'. Answer: Yup. 'But that's crazy', you opine. Not when you consider that's what they are already doing in superfine decisions, except the coin toss is replaced by a guess. Therefore with a human they 'benefit of the doubt' was given to the batsman. With DRS that is not necessary.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 22, 2012, 2:07 GMT)

@Posted by Chris_P on (December 20 2012, 14:45 PM GMT) This was my first thought also, and it would work as the batman could be recalled before he leaves the ground. However it falls down when the batsman is incorrectly given 'not out' because there is not time for the 3rd umpire to review.

Posted by aj0569 on (December 22, 2012, 0:56 GMT)

I believe a lot of the problem lies with television coverage and commentators. I wonder if the tv never had replays whether the cricket admin would have ever worried about 3rd umpires etc. Mark you say it should only be used for howlers. OK then if this was made law would you as a commentator be prepared to keep quiet about the decision if your replays showed that it wasn't a howler but under closer scrutiny should have been changed. I think not.

Posted by crickketlover on (December 21, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

I agree. we should not expect perfection in DRS. No cricket player is perfect. If the player is perfect why doesn't the batsman score a century in every innings or the bowler takes a wicket in every ball? BCCI does not understand the concept of perfection. no one is perfect and no technology is perfect - because the techology is invented by humans and how can we expect it to be perfect as we are not perfect.

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 21, 2012, 13:11 GMT)

Also technolgy side i would put a gps sensor in center of the ball to detect vibrations. When it get close to batsman you detect vibrations that will tell batsman nicked or not with 100% proof accuracy. Also if the ball gona hit the stump or not will be more accurate. if ball has sensor , you can do millon things and everything will be more accurate with GPS . But ball cost will be high slightly. Those sensors can be reusable once ball used up. So cost can be reduced in that way by reusing sensors. You can improve technology part as technology and cost gets cheaper but DRS should not allow gambling aspect which is core of the problem. Gambling may be entertainment but it put too much pressure on captains now. if we allow 3rd umpire to take all decisions then we rely on one man. I think coaches appeal allow on demand by each side along with 3rd umpire making his own over rule. I believe the idea is remove howlers so we play fair. Growth happens when no impediments and nothing blocking.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (December 21, 2012, 11:59 GMT)

Put DRS in the hands of the umpires. They can use their radio to ask the 3rd umpire to review an appeal, is it too high, going down leg etc etc and make their decision based on that. If it's still an obvious shocker then the 3rd umpire has the right to intervene. Take the onus away from players entirely.

Posted by Rowayton on (December 21, 2012, 9:40 GMT)

As a club umpire, I think DRS is great because it frequently proves that even the best players haven't got a clue, just like I always suspected. Why else would the Sangakarras of this world review an LBW that was clearly out? I too think it's fine as it is. As for the Herath decision - it was ironic that he was out bowled in the second innings off almost exactly the same shot.

Posted by nursery_ender on (December 21, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

I'm impressed by all these posters saying that umpires should never make mistakes. They have clearly never made a mistake in their own lives.

Umpires are human; they make mistakes; it's inevitable.

Posted by PrasPunter on (December 21, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

@ LillianThomson , well said mate . Why should good things be thrown away just because of a big bad brother not having a liking for it for absurd reasons ? Let the world move on - forward-thinkers shall board . And those who prefer to live stone-age shall continue with their bad ways.

Posted by HatsforBats on (December 21, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

@ landl47, surely you don't recommend the 3rd umpire reviewing EVERY appeal? In the just concluded Eng-Ind series the appealing was at times outrageous from both sides. Even 2 or 3 appeals in an over would add an extra 4mins. Teams already struggle to bowl 90 overs a day, add in 30 mins of reviews and you'd be lucky to see 80 overs a day. That is why the DRS cannot be in the umpires hands, they would be obligated to review every appeal or face the wrath of powerful boards calling for their heads; surely more degrading to their confidence and standing than the current system.

Posted by D.V.C. on (December 21, 2012, 2:43 GMT)

This may be the first time I've agreed on anything to do with DRS with Mark Nicholas. If a decision is not out because of X, and a team reviews then the first thing to check is X. If the umpire turns out to be wrong about that, then check everything else. Saves time.

Posted by LillianThomson on (December 21, 2012, 2:37 GMT)

Why change anything? It works fine.

When India was a major Test nation its refusal to accept DRS mattered. But the rest of us use it anyway, and who cares whether a second rate team has objection?

Would we abolish lbw if Ross Taylor objected to it? Would we abolish caught behind if Darren Bravo objected? Get rid of run-outs to please Gautam Gambhir?

So don't try to change a good system to please a country ranked 5th out of 10. If they don't like it, they can be the ones to be reviled each time they play another country, just as they were in England and Australia.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on (December 21, 2012, 1:27 GMT)

You couldn't be more wrong. DRS should never be used for eliminating the appalling ones. Stop defending umpires. We don't even see appalling ones in gully cricket on a regular basis let alone defending them with such regularity at international level. If umpires aren't good enough to do their basic job of getting the simple ones correct, then they should be booted out. Simple. Setting right the howlers should never be an excuse for DRS. We don't even need DRS to correct howlers. We can take them out with simple replays, which necessarily means that we need to bring a change in the rules that would allow replays to correct the howlers. On the other hand, we need DRS only for marginal calls. Difficult calls, as one might want to term them as. And we all know the accuracy of DRS on marginal calls. Until that time DRS can improve on marginal calls, it's incredibly stupid to expect people to shell out boatloads of money, that too to eliminate howlers!! Let the umpires work for free then!

Posted by siddharth_r2001 on (December 21, 2012, 1:22 GMT)

If the heading of the article is about DRS and howlers, the author should stick to that topic! He has rambled on and on and on about topics totally unrelated to the DRS, and less than the last third of this article talks about what the heading of the article suggests!

Posted by balajik1968 on (December 21, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

Everyone who goes about criticising the BCCI misses one point. Hawkeye was originally a line calling device in tennis, which was turned into a predictive device with a 2 dimensional model in cricket. It was originally a broadcaster's tool, which became a part of the decision making apparatus, without being trialled extensively in all conditions. There is another factor in this. Who is going to pay? There are only 4 countries where cricket is financially sound; India, England, Australia and South Africa. There have been quite a few series not involving India where there has been no DRS. Are you going to blame the BCCI for that? I agree that the BCCI has its faults, but to call it the source of all ills in cricket today is ridiculous. As for Tendulkar being afraid of LBW's, everyone loves kicking him because he is down, but to say he is hiding behind this is bovine manure. The BCCI is articulating the concerns of the Indian players, but it is doing it clumsily.

Posted by HatsforBats on (December 21, 2012, 0:17 GMT)

@Chris_P, the 3rd umpire can't be solely responsible. That would result in either batsmen standing at the crease for two minutes after being given out (or not out) after every decision while the third umpire reviews every piece of technology, or batsmen being called back to the crease before they reach the boundary when reprieved. It's just not feasible.

Posted by Rahulbose on (December 20, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

Some folks never tire of DRS debate and BCCI bashing. What is needed is to hold umpires accountable. Top quality umpires should not be making howlers in a test match. For marginal decisions players, commentators and fans should accept the decision. And all umpire decisions that go wrong are the umpire's fault. Not of BCCI blocking DRS.

Posted by leggetinoz on (December 20, 2012, 23:10 GMT)

Having only 2 per innings seems the best option as the small number reduces the incentive to gamble where as if their were numerous referrals than you would see it being called to try and get someone out through hope and not due to a mistake. My thoughts are, that if it is umpires call then it is close enough for the team to believe it is a howler so they should not lose a referral. All of DRS's problems could be changed if however, they only leave it for howlers, but i believe teams use it to try and protect the key batsmen. I remember a few years ago in a test Gayle was given LBW numerous times and called for DRS which said that the decision was obviously right. He said "I am a key batsmen". That is not how it should be used and a team should be penalised for wasting a review and that will sometimes be in the case of someone being given out incorrectly that won't have the chance to overturn it. The system to me is perfect.

Posted by leggetinoz on (December 20, 2012, 23:07 GMT)

For me, the DRS is perfect for what it is used for. I could be wrong but i have never seen a howler that has been referred not had the decision changed. Just as Mark Nicholas says, it isn't the DRS that is flawed it is the use. Allowing the umpires access only to DRS won't work as it is there to fix umpire mistakes. Obviously, umpitres do not make mistakes on purpose, they believe they are right at the time so there will be instances still when mistakes are made and their will be uproar from the fans as people will complain about why didn't the umpire use the DRS. There for, it needs to be in the realms of the player.

Posted by gudolerhum on (December 20, 2012, 22:07 GMT)

Spot on, get on with the game and use the technology for what it was intended, an aid, not a crutch.

Posted by landl47 on (December 20, 2012, 20:44 GMT)

The DRS should go and be replaced by the 3 umpires giving the decision, using their judgement and whatever technology they have available. Once they reach a decision, that's it. That's what happens with stumpings and run outs and no-one ever complains; all it needs is for that procedure to apply to all appeals. The object must surely be to have the best possible decision made EVERY TIME and the only way to do that is to give the game back to the umpires- the 3 of them.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 18:34 GMT)

When both Sanga's and Samarweera's LBW's were reveresed by UDRS Mark Taylor suddenly started accusing UDRS of saving batsman, while i think now because of UDRS umpires tend to give batsman LBW out even if they are hit on the front pad, unlike old days. therefore UDRS might reduce batsman's average at best, not increase. Mark Taylor was biased there, both batsman were hit outside the line and that is NOT OUT

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 18:31 GMT)

Why not limit DRS to one per batsman and two unsucessful ones for the whole team?

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 20, 2012, 17:30 GMT)

@Chris_P, spot on right mate! I fully agree with you. Also I think they must change the rule where if the hawk eye shows the ball hitting the wicket, it is out and nothing to do with umpires call.

Posted by inswing on (December 20, 2012, 16:55 GMT)

There is one thing that will eliminate a lot of controversy. The on field umpire always gives a decision, as if there was no DRS. If the umpire is not sure, they don't go to DRS. They give a decision like they normally would. Then, if challenged, you go to DRS. If you find clear evidence that the decision was wrong, you overturn it, otherwise you don't. This way, you are never worse than you would be without DRS. Limitations of DRS (eg not able to detect edge some times) are irrelevant, because that limitation is never worsening umpire's decision. In some cases you will improve upon the umpire, in some cases you won't, case closed.

Posted by inswing on (December 20, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

You don't even need to "eliminate" howlers. You just need to make them more rare. It is foolish to stick with something extremely imperfect (human judgment) because you can't make it 100% perfect. You just need to improve it.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

Excellent Post!!

The main reason why BCCI(aka Senior Indian players) oppose DRS in its current form is that India got the raw end of the stick when they tried it(just like it happened to Sri Lanka in this match).

To stop the abuse of DRS, please remove the 2-reviews-per-team rule and let the umpires themselves decide which ones to review. If that is done, BCCI(aka the Indian fans and the players) would happily welcome it.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 16:43 GMT)

@MJB80...striving for performance is different from settling for a lower quality solution until something becomes foolproof. Automobiles today strive for safety and yet there are lots of accidents and deaths around the world(sometimes due to user error like DRS). I do not see people asking for a return to bullock carts until cars become perfect.

Posted by big_cheese on (December 20, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

Spot on, Mark! That's the exact point BCCI is missing here (reason I bring BCCI in is, my understanding is that they are the only country that's opposing it). Although nobody asked for my opinion, I feel that BCCI should think outside the box. Their stance is something like this, 'well, when it is not a 100% perfect, why embrace it? Let's wait for something that is a 100% perfect'. My point is, when DRS is something that is better than human decisions, in other words if the situation is slightly improved from say, 85% accuracy to 90% accuracy, why not get it? Besides, even after using DRS it is the on-field umpires' call anyway. Any takers?

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (December 20, 2012, 15:08 GMT)

the main thing is that the fans like it going based on these comments, just needs to evolve over time as the video ref in league has mark taylor and mark(i have never played a test) nicholas are just sore they didnt have it when they were playing, warnie would have loved to have had it when he was on 99 against NZ

Posted by Chris_P on (December 20, 2012, 14:45 GMT)

Make the 3rd umpire responsible for reviews. Take it out of the players' hands.

Posted by azzaman333 on (December 20, 2012, 14:30 GMT)

The one day domestic comp tried giving the third umpire the ability to review decisions and potentially call back or dismiss a batsman. It was a resounding failure, and has already been dropped from the comp. The system works pretty well as is, the umpires and players are overall quite happy with it. The complaints predominantly come from ex-players in the media who have never used it, it's ridiculous.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 14:04 GMT)

There is enough support for umpires in DRS to withstand their OK decisions and everybody more or less wants DRS for these appaling decisions ..!

Posted by NALINWIJ on (December 20, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

I believe DRS properly used can enhance the game.I believe 2 incorect DRS per team per innings is correct. It is the countries such as SA who use it wisely and India uses it badly.I believe that benifit of doubt going to the umpire with howlers corrected.The decisions reversed in this match were criticised by TV commentators but were correct as the ball was outside off with SANGA and SAMARAWEERA. The exoneration of DUPLESSIS LBW against Clarke when 35% of ball was within leg stump was incorrect as batsmen are only reprieved if the ball is outside leg.This should have been an orange light but not a green light and the decision should have stood and this cost Australia the match.I believe the green zone should be all of the ball outside the stumps. The bails and outer third of stumps should be Orange. Any part of the ball inside this should be red. Bowler needs all reds and the batsman need one green to be exonerated.

Posted by mikewright on (December 20, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

Most howlers are LBWs with an inside edge or bat pads where the ball hasn't hit the pad. In other words batsmen on the wrong end of them. Very few plumb LBWs are not given. Very rare for a definite edge to not be given. I would take away referrals for the bowling side altogether and reduce the batting side to one per innings. A batsman knows when they have inside edged or not hit a bat pad, so there's no excuse for an incorrect referral.

Posted by Selassie-I on (December 20, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

@Posted by disco_bob on (December 20 2012, 06:19 AM GMT) - I agree.

There should be no 'umpire's call' - it's hitting or it isn't. I would consider having just 1 review, so teams save it for a howler, not just use it beacuse it's their best bat.

Posted by Selassie-I on (December 20, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

Sri Lanka probably don't know how to use it as they play half their series against India, who refuse to use it.

Posted by PGSGimson on (December 20, 2012, 12:50 GMT)

Make DRS compulsory please ICC. The technology works! The players just need some time to realize that you should only challenge bad decisions rather than decisions made against good players. If the ICC make it compulsory, then players will hopefully realize that they are stuck with it and need to work out how to best utilize it!

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 12:25 GMT)

Well now, Like some of the 9 commentators have said the third umpire should come in for the big howler that occasionally happens, plus when people say the DRS makes it slower and less exciting for the punters well I went to the Adealide Test match and each DRS made it exciting for the crowd, especially if you can witness it on the big screen. Whether it is requested by player or umpire it is a bit of drama for the crowd. I personally would like it to be with the umpire always and the benift of doubt if you cant clearly decide about the decision.

Posted by nursery_ender on (December 20, 2012, 12:22 GMT)

quote "Whoever gets lucky with asking for the correct decisions to be reviewed wins"

It's not luck, it's making sure you only challenge when you're sure the umpire is wrong.

Posted by py0alb on (December 20, 2012, 12:18 GMT)

They should put a tiny sensor on the back of player's bats, that way they would be able to use Hawkeye to tell whether a batsman did or did not edge the ball.

At the moment hotspot can prove that a batsman did edge it, but it can't prove that he didn't. If you can show using hawkeye that the ball never came within 2 inches of the edge of the bat, then we can rule with more consistency in the opposite direction as well.

The lbw decisions seem to work really well IMO.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 12:12 GMT)

"Imagine Sir Donald Bradman's average with the DRS" It would've been a lot worse. Standing Umpires have always favoured the player with a big reputation

Posted by Alexk400 on (December 20, 2012, 12:10 GMT)

DRS is flawed. Not technology. Just application. Players should not do the appeal. Coaches should appeal like flag throwing by coaches in NFL. You don't want people who do not able to see whats happening to appeal. I rather want people who see the actions closely through camera should appeal. That solves most howler problem. Who ever implemented DRS workflow is kinda clueless. He is more of allowing player participation. I think its flawed also puts too much pressure on captain brain on non cricketing matters. Appeal or Not appeal is a gamble. We need to remove gambling aspect of this appealing system. For me extreme slow motion technology is fine but umpires makes final decision to go with field decision or change it. I don't go by the rule on field rule stand when it was ruled wrong. ICC needs to hire me to make clear rules. hahaha.

Posted by aus_trad on (December 20, 2012, 11:54 GMT)

For me, the events of this (Australian) summer have "brought the jury back in". The verdict? DRS has been found wanting. The game is the poorer for it. Umpires have made mistakes since our great game was played with curved bats by men in 3-cornered hats. Those mistakes even themselves out - certainly over a series, and mostly over a match. If such a thing could be proved, I would be surprised if more than a handful of series in the history of tests (at least since neutral umpires were introduced) have truly been decided by a wrong umpiring decision. The game is not hurt by incorrect umpiring decisions. It is hurt by the way the game's flow is violated by umpiring decisions being reversed. What happens on the field should stay on the field. The only other viable alternative would be to give umpires the authority to review every decision. If they are going to pilloried by the use of technology, why shouldn't they be able to use that technology in order to get it right in the first place?

Posted by o-bomb on (December 20, 2012, 11:49 GMT)

@Dave1970 - the problem I can see with every batsman having 1 referral is that they will refer plumb lbws and waste time. If there is a match to save they could be referring any out decision just to waste time.

I think DRS is good for the game and benefits it greatly when used properly. When it's not used properly the only people losing out are those misusing it (in this case the Sri Lankan team with Herath getting out due to his team-mates misusing it earlier on).

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 11:33 GMT)

I think two DRS per team per day or 10 DRS per team per match should be the way forward. DRS is not bad except for LBW which somehow is not convincing in some cases.

Posted by yoohoo on (December 20, 2012, 11:06 GMT)

DRS is a joke. It turns cricket into poker! Whoever gets lucky with asking for the correct decisions to be reviewed wins. No better than the current system, but definitely much costlier.

Posted by nursery_ender on (December 20, 2012, 11:03 GMT)

recycle-bin-is-empty on (December 20 2012, 09:08 AM GMT): I was thinking of the incorrect 'out' decisions rather than the 'benefit of the doubt' not outs. You're right that there is scope for umpires to initiate reviews on those.

Posted by yoohoo on (December 20, 2012, 10:51 GMT)

@Brendan Carter - People like you are the reason Indians don't take your opinion on DRS seriously. Come one, in fact sachin was saved due to to DRS in the WC semifinal, where he played a match winning knock!

Posted by _myk on (December 20, 2012, 10:11 GMT)

The only tweak to DRS I'd make is that if the decision is in the margin of error you don't lose an appeal. Everything else seems pretty balanced, even the initial number of referrals.

The other thing about DRS is that it improves players - playing with the pad is a lot more risky now, bowlers have to pick better lengths. KP for example had massive problems coming to terms with it, but is now a better player for the experience.

Posted by IanJF on (December 20, 2012, 10:07 GMT)

Hey Mark, all said, at the end of the day if perfect decisions are made via DRS, I guess its better for the game...!

Posted by Stouffer on (December 20, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

Who is to say that Bradman's average wouldn't have been less with DRS? Far easier for a third umpire to give him LBW on review that it could ever have been for an on field umpire.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 10:04 GMT)

@CricketMaan, Tendulkar is an opposer, because he is 5 ft 4 inches tall, wears kids pads, and protects his stumps with his front leg. He should have been out at least 70 or 80 times more LBW. But the Indian umpires in his early career, refused too give him out unless he was obviously caught, or bowled. Now the independent Umpires are scared of riots in India, because this arrogant little man, `Tendulkar`, thinks he is bigger than the game. He is the only Indian cricketer, who opposes `UDRS`, because he knows more often than not, he will be out plumb LBW, on the off-stump line.

Posted by KiwiRocker- on (December 20, 2012, 9:41 GMT)

Well, yet again who do you blame for teams not getting it right? Indeed the ICC. ICC like always has left it for playing nations to decide to use/not to use DRS and it is not only confusing for everyone in middle but also the viewers. I think enough has been written about bullish attitude of BCCI and personal interests of Indian players such as Sehwag and Tendulkar in particular to avoid DRS.Reality is that fault soley lies with ICC that has failed to implement DRS universally.If DRS is implemented and mandatory then 'continious improvement' process will start.I recall that video ref in rugby was not perfect to start with. DRS has been made to look like a untouchable evil that ICC(with bulley from BCCI) has failed to adopt and it is resulting in more and more poor decisions. Umpires are under immense pressure now a days and are giving margical calls with fear,e.g Poor Alistar Cook suffered twice in last test against India.Embrace it to improve it or else it will always have weaknesses!

Posted by philvic on (December 20, 2012, 9:36 GMT)

the problem is that the current usage results in inconsistency. The aim should be to get every decision right. I would take away the appeal system and ask the umpires to decide to refer to DRS. Like with runouts/stumpings, the pressure would be on them to refer each time they had any doubt which would be a good thing. It would take out the current nonsense of the same delivery being out or not out depending on what the first onfield decision was and it would take out the bad decision standing because a couple of marginal ones went against you earlier. And with noballs, why are they only checked when there is a review. Either check them with every dismissal or dont check at all.

Posted by recycle-bin-is-empty on (December 20, 2012, 9:08 GMT)

@nursery_ender " if an umpire makes a decision it'#s because he's sure it's correct." i m pretty sure thats not the case every time with even the best umpires.

Posted by CricketMaan on (December 20, 2012, 9:07 GMT)

DRS can and should be embraced for nicks on to pad and inside edge decisions, but just lbw is still questionable. often we have seen, and more recently Cook was bowled low bounce off Ohja, but the tracker showed the ball was hitting top of off stump..that was ridicoulous, so to judge lbw is always going to be here and there, but blunders like nicking on to pad and not inside edging can be relied on. India wont use it until we have a Kumble or Sourav as president (knowledgables) or anyone other than Dhoni as captian..lastly SRT is an ardent opposer..while GG, Viru have sounded positive once made captians they too would tow what BCCI says. N Srinivasan has rejected it so can t see BCCi acception. The debate goes on.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 9:05 GMT)

The Bowler should own the stumps, the whole stumps, not the middle of off-stump, to the middle of leg-stump, if not!, any part of the ball pitching in-line and hitting should be, Leg Before Wicket. If they give the Bowlers, the full width of the stumps, then and only then, should more than half the ball, have too be in line. Batsmen are favoured, at least 80% to 20%, on this rule, bring back the outside of Off, to the outside of leg, and then it will still favour the batsmen, but maybe only 60% to 40%.

Posted by Samdanh on (December 20, 2012, 8:16 GMT)

Hi Mark, DRS is adopted and, is used, and will be used by the learned, and those who are fair minded. If the sub title of this article does not wake up mulish minds, few series defeats casued by shockers will perhaps get them to change theiir stance. Request Cricinfo to publish

Posted by nursery_ender on (December 20, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

baskar_guha on (December 20 2012, 07:25 AM GMT): Your suggestion wouldn't work because if an umpire makes a decision it'#s because he's sure it's correct. He's not then going to say 'oh that looked a bad call, I'd better refer it'. And the square leg umpire won't have any idea on the line of lbws or if the batsman edged a ball close to his body. The referrals have to come from the players.

Posted by baskar_guha on (December 20, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

DRS = Video Replays invoked by the umps -- they can easily spot howlers - inside edges on LBW decisions, close in catches, etc. Get rid of the mad science experiments - predictive LBW and hot spot technologies. Then no one will object including BCCI.

Posted by Dave1970 on (December 20, 2012, 6:45 GMT)

I previously suggested that each batsman get one referral - if successful they keep it. If not, obviously they are out. There will not always be ten referrals as some dismissals will be obvious catches and others bowled. Would come down more to the clanger dismissal and perhaps the lbw's

As for the fielding side it is hard to keep the referrals fair but perhaps it can be that a person who bowls has one referral only, if they are successful they keep it, if not lose it. In addition to the fielding Captain gets one referral with the same condition. It might sound hard to keep track of but the umpires have their little book and can make a notation etc. and generally players know - or the scoreboard can display it for the umpire.

It will not slow the game down but make it very interesting.

Just a thought.

Posted by Dave1970 on (December 20, 2012, 6:32 GMT)

I like the idea or DRS but not necessarily the application. As an example the clanger that Herath got but could not refer it is appalling. How about trial it that each batsman have one referral. If they get it wrong, they are out but if they get it right they keep it. That would avoid the Herath issue. The problem with having the umpire decide to use the DRS is where do you draw the line when an appeal is made and by the time the next ball is bowled it would be too late for the third umpire to say hang on: it may also encourage over appealing Go one DRS referral per batsman if they so wish to use it

Posted by disco_bob on (December 20, 2012, 6:19 GMT)

DRS is only being held back by the fragile egos of the umpires. Eventually DRS will come of age and there will be no such thing as 'DRS has determined that the batsman is out but not out enough to overturn the on field umpire.'

Striving for perfection is the only solution unfortunately MR Nicholas. Either the ball was going on to his the stumps or miss the stumps. There is no middle ground. Or rather there should be no middle ground. This will come to pass eventually.

Posted by Ayush_Chauhan on (December 20, 2012, 6:18 GMT)

I love how cleverly he added "even India might accept it" part at the end. But yes I think teams have yet not grasped how to use DRS properly....

Posted by disco_bob on (December 20, 2012, 6:14 GMT)

Whatever faults you may find with DRS the game is the better for it. Hopefully DRS itself will improve.

Posted by   on (December 20, 2012, 6:08 GMT)

All this stuff about DRS only comes out now to cover for the poor last day bowling performances the Aussis have put out. No one would be mentioning all of this if it had been Australia with the bat fighting for a draw and using up referrals.

Posted by MJB80 on (December 20, 2012, 4:34 GMT)

Mark, unless you strive for perfection, mediocrity will be the order of the day.

Posted by EdwardTLogan on (December 20, 2012, 4:16 GMT)

Mark, you have nailed the issues with DRS 100%. Teams are currently using it not for the occasion where a batsman hits the cover off the ball before it cannons into his pads, or where a ball pitches an extra set of stumps outside leg. They are using it on the off chance that hot spot will pick up the faintest of edges, or the ball will land a millimetre or two outside the line of leg. In my opinion, teams only have themselves to blame if they run out of referrals. The limit of two per team is more than enough, considering it is is only the 'howler' they should be using it for in any case.

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Mark NicholasClose
Mark Nicholas A prolific and stylish middle-order batsman for Hampshire, Mark Nicholas was unlucky never to have played for England, but after captaining his county to four major trophies he made his reputation as a presenter, commentator and columnist. Named the UK Sports Presenter of the Year in 2001 and 2005 by the Royal Television Society, he has commentated all over the world, from the World Cup in the West Indies to the Indian Premier League. He now hosts the cricket coverage for Channel Nine in Australia and Channel 5 in England.

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