February 24, 2013

Why the DRS must not attempt to get it right all the time

Michael Clarke being let off in Chennai could cost India in the series. The administrators must reach a consensus on the review system

Cricket administrators obviously don't mind embarrassing themselves. How else do you explain two Test matches running concurrently being played under different sets of laws? South Africa and Pakistan are trying to win the same world championship title as India and Australia, but one series is using the DRS and the other isn't. How do you justify that and retain credibility?

There'll be plenty of people eager to wag their finger at the BCCI and say: "Be careful what you wish for." After all, it was their refusal to use the DRS that cost the team dearly in the first innings, when Michael Clarke was erroneously adjudged not out on 39, and he went on to amass a century.

I'm no great fan of the DRS for a number of reasons but isn't the Clarke case what the ICC told us it was there to eradicate - the howler? The Clarke non-decision was a howler if ever I've seen one. A workable DRS would have achieved another stated aim of the ICC in implementing the technology - to get the right decision.

The big problem with the DRS is an unstated desire to get the right decision all the time. Cricket isn't that sort of game; there will always be 50-50 decisions as long as there's an lbw law, and that's part of the charm of the sport.

Stop aiming to produce a 100% record and concentrate on getting rid of the howler and then the DRS will be a useful tool in the game. This can only happen when the players have no part in the DRS and it's left in the hands of the third umpire to overrule on-field decisions that are palpably wrong.

It's easy to blame the BCCI entirely for the current mess but that's letting the other ICC Test nations off the hook. They are equally to blame for not standing up to the BCCI and presenting a case for all sitting down around the table and reaching a common-sense agreement, instead of the current situation, which is an embarrassment to the game.

Clarke is a good enough batsman - as he showed in the first innings - to capitalise on an umpiring error. The concern for India is, he's also an aggressive captain who can take advantage of any opposition weakness, just as he did in completing a whitewash win over MS Dhoni's hapless charges in Australia.

Indian selectors tend to be ultra-sentimental, and on the evidence of Harbhajan Singh's lacklustre performance, it was the lure of his 100th Test match that earned him a place in the side. And the sight of Ishant Sharma's inconsistent bowling rarely troubling batsmen only served to confirm what a wise decision it was to produce a pitch to help the spinners. If the Indian selectors maintain that form throughout the series, they'll more than likely play into Clarke's hands.

While Australia's ploy of playing a strong pace attack was based on a genuine belief they are their best bowlers and therefore present the most likely chance of victory, India look to have over-theorised. Relying heavily on offspin because there is a preponderance of left-handers in the opposition line-up is fine as long as they all bowl like the much-improved R Ashwin. Surely Pragyan Ohja is one of India's three best tweakers? Not playing him seemed to be a mistake. Anyway, isn't the left-armer spinning into the left-hander out of the rough? And doesn't that increase the likelihood of bowled and lbw dismissals, one of which doesn't require the umpire's intervention?

Clarke has established a solid base camp for Australia - they desperately needed a good first innings against the Indian spinners - thanks to two bits of good fortune, winning the toss and getting a favourable decision. Let's hope that if he does conjure up a victory it's because of shrewd captaincy rather than maladministration.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    I guess Chappel is marketing the DRS. When he mentions test match series using two different set of laws, he forgot to mention that both these series have its own DRS howlers. While it was Clarke's incident in India, it was Kallis incident is SA. Why does Chappel not mention the Kallis howler, where DRS failed miserably. If he says DRS is also a 50 - 50 chance, they why waste so much time and money on it by keeping away from it ? Technology should just be an aid, not replace decision making. Errors are there in DRS and umpires as well. Afterall, DRS is a product of humans, and umpires are human too.

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    Its pathetic to read what Ian Chappel writes, because he contradicts himself by saying that DRS need not be right all the time and still wants to use DRS ? If 50-50 is good with DRS what is wrong about 50-50 without DRS ? I bet he does not have an answer. It seems he is trying to force India into using DRS siting Clarke's instance, but we have seen ghastlier mistakes than that of Clarke's with DRS and the 3rd. umpire rulings together! So sometimes its the 3rd Umpire making the mistake or the DRS making the mistake, which compounds the complicity of the result and proves that DRS is not the solution unless and until it is 100 % accurate and till such time BCCI is absolutely right not favoring the Faulty Technology.

  • Andrew on February 26, 2013, 3:50 GMT

    @ jmcilhinney on (February 25, 2013, 11:59 GMT) "The third umpire should be able to view slow motion replays at least to look for edges on bat/pad and LBW appeals" - the problem is slo-mo replays do not prove bat on ball in most cases. The reason why hot spot is compelling, is that in the moments after the ball makes contact, the Hotspot shows that something made contact. I certain that IF, the ICC could of, they would of just used slo-mo replays. The fact is though, that slo-mo cameras use high speed frames higher than most networks who cover cricket can provide. Also - in respect of the availability of the product, it is expensive currently, however, due to the failure to implement the technology, the usual economies of scale & technology investment has not taken place which retards the cost cycle. IF, Hotspot was mandatory, it would become rapidly more affordable within a couple of years.

  • Matthew on February 26, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    IMO I think that the DRS should stay with the players. However when a decision is referred to the 3rd umpire then the 3rd umpire has a set amount of time to decide on whether to over turn the decision or not. Not like has happened where they will scrounge for any evidence to prove that the player is out. If there is no decision able to be made within the first few replays then the benefit of the doubt must be given to the batsman - as is the old way. Unlike the recent series in Australia where there were multiple occasions where there was no obvious reason to give a batsman out, but they were given out nonetheless (even where it over turned the on field umpires decision).

  • Andrew on February 26, 2013, 3:43 GMT

    @Harmony111 on (February 24, 2013, 18:03 GMT) - "I am surprised that the pro-DRS lobby fails to understand this simple point." - the problem is that slow motion replays do not always PROVE anything. This is due to the fact that the speed of the frames (whilst faster than previously), are not always in sync with WHEN the action occurred. IF, you follow cricket you would see that even simple run out reviews can often take numerous replays & still not be conclusive as one frame will show the bat outside the crease, the next over the crease but now the bails are off, at what point did the bails come off? The FACT is slo-mo does not offer anymore credible proof of snicks. The only time slo-mo would be close to HELPING an umpire is, whether the batsmens pad is struck in line with the stumps. I find it amazing that someone who can get on their high horse can so appallingly misunderstand the basics. It is very rare any type of replay (minus hot spot/snicko) proves a caught behind appeal!

  • Vipin on February 26, 2013, 3:29 GMT

    Chappell made a very good point here. Everyone who saw the match knew that Clarke was out. Only Dharmasena didn't know it. The original decision should have been overturned, especially knowing that it was a howler, no matter whether it was challenged or not. It's OK that the umpire made an error in judgment, good umpires don't do it quite often, but it was the duty of the third umpire to remind him that he wasn't right. There wouldn't have been any embarrassment for the umpire had he been told about his mistake. Anyway he would have come to know about it before the next over was bowled. That's even more embarrassing, watching the batsman standing his ground after you deemed him not out in the previous over and knowing that you made a flagrant error. Though unknowingly, Dharmasena robbed Ashwin to pay Clarke.

  • TR on February 26, 2013, 3:24 GMT

    Ian, dont bother. Justice prevails as we see. Clarke didn't walk off when he was out in the 1st innings. The pitch spit its venom against him in the second... DRS or no DRS, justice prevails :-)

  • Andrew on February 26, 2013, 3:20 GMT

    My only problem with taking reviews away from the players is in time wasting. Eventually Umpires will start to refer any contentious decision upstairs. Take a look at run outs, Umpires refer upstairs just about every run out decision, as they rightly want to double-check. So what happens if a team has bowlers & fielders who are APPEAL everything even remotely close. You could have umpires (in the extreme end of the spectrum), reviewing every ball of the over. Even if that doesn't happen, you will get bowlers who will dawdle to bowl their next ball HOPING the video umpire sees something that could uphold an appeal. Theoretically IC is spot on - the players should not have the right to review, they are proven to be LESS right then the umpires, (it also could diminish respect for umpires in the sense that their decision is not so much final anymore). The technology MUST be used, but at what point COULD the review process smother the charm of cricket, choking it under endless reviews?

  • Andrew on February 26, 2013, 3:12 GMT

    @ Johnny_Rook on (February 23, 2013, 9:57 GMT) - its only semantics. A lot of batsmen have walked once or twice, all I was saying is, that the only genuine walkers, a batsmen who walks when he is thinks he is out before the umpire makes a decision were Lara & Gilly. @getsetgopk on (February 24, 2013, 16:54 GMT) - I believe there is protocols, but I don't think the umpires are trained enuff on the interpretation. IMO, as a rule of thumb, if a batsmen gets benefit of the doubt from the on-field umpire, the on-field umpire should get benefit of the doubt from the 3rd umpire/UDRS. IF, this was to happen, then most of the weird rulings that have happenned of late would be removed. The worst decision under UDRS occur when a decision is overturned with no STRONG evidence.

  • Balaji on February 26, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    Chappell still does not address the big question. Who will pay for this? Other than India, England, Australia and South Africa, none of the other federations is financially sound. Sri Lanka is unable to pay player salaries, that is why they play India often enough to a point where fans of both teams are sick of each other. Pakistan has'nt played a home series in 4 years. From what I read about New Zealand cricket it seems to be in deep trouble. West Indies just about seems to be coming back from its deep tailspin, but it is always one step forward, two steps back. Bangladesh is just finding its feet. I don't even want to talk about Zimbabwe. So where is the money?