July 14, 2013

Leave the DRS to the umpires

Instead of limiting the number of referrals, and leaving them in the hands of the players, the use of reviews should be solely at the discretion of the umpires
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Captaincy debates and umpiring controversies are never far from the surface in a cricket match, and the Test at Trent Bridge has been no exception.

While debutant Ashton Agar was stunning England and amazing the cricket world with his array of shots and nerveless temperament, Alastair Cook was paralysed by indecision. There was a look of panic on his face during the remarkable, record-breaking partnership between Agar and Phillip Hughes that belied the term "being in charge". As a result of Cook's indecision he waited for the Australians to commit cricketing suicide; instead they used their brains and batted bravely.

A former New South Wales player once told me one of the secrets of Richie Benaud's captaincy success was his ability to appear calm under all circumstances. "He'd casually stand there in the gully with his arms folded," said the player, "and then suddenly he'd shift a fielder or two and change the bowling and we'd all think, 'This is the move that's going to alter the game.'"

That ability as a captain, to appear calm no matter how dire the situation, sends a wave of confidence through the fielding side and tells the batting side nothing.

Cook has displayed a remarkable ability to adapt as a batsman; he's gone from being a potential liability prior to the 2010-11 Ashes series to a wicket Australia covets. Now he has to display that same ability to adapt as a captain, but this time it'll be more difficult; his batting needed a simple alteration in technique, the captaincy will require an adjustment to his temperament. It's always difficult to drastically alter what is nature's gift.

Cook's other problem is having to adapt mid-series. The amazing turnaround contrived by Agar and Hughes not only rescued Australia in the Test but it has given Australia inspiration for the remainder of the series. Captaincy could play a crucial role if this series remains tight and Michael Clarke is tactically superior to Cook. If the England captain can be frozen into indecision by aggressive Australian batting, that's another advantage to the tourists.

The other major influence on the first Test has been the umpiring. The main controversy has been around the DRS and its failings have emphasised flaws the ICC should have addressed long ago.

Firstly the Jonathan Trott lbw referral highlighted the absurd decision to allow the host broadcasters to play a part in the DRS. In Trott's case the operator was utilising Hot Spot for something else when suddenly the technology was required for a referral.

The DRS should always be the sole responsibility of the cricket boards; they should pay for and operate everything that's required for the decision-making process. Adjudication has nothing to do with the television coverage, which is there to provide entertainment for the viewers.

Hopefully this latest malfunction will convince the cricket boards to take charge of the DRS, and that way every Test will then be played under the same conditions.

Then there's the Stuart Broad controversy over a disputed catch. There's the irony in it of Australia's cause being hurt by an opponent not walking; cricket has a way of even-ing up over time.

More important is the principle of getting the right decision, which the ICC has constantly spruiked as one of the virtues of the DRS. In many cases it has done exactly the opposite, and Broad's case was just the latest example.

Instead of putting a limit on the number of referrals available, and leaving them in the hands of the players, the use of the DRS should be solely at the discretion of the umpires. The arbiters in the middle should be encouraged to make decisions and then, only if the video umpire sees a glaring error, should he intervene.

This way the umpiring standards could be raised and only the howlers, and not the 50-50 decisions, would be overturned. No system is infallible and that's part of the beauty of the game. The players make mistakes, which in turn require the umpires to come to a decision, which can occasionally result in an error. The human element is an important part of cricket's magic.

And so is drama. There has been no shortage of that at Trent Bridge as once again an Ashes series has captured the public attention.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on July 17, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    For once, I disagree with Ian Chappell: it would be a disaster if the umpires were left to decide whether to review. The umps would go upstairs for virtually every decision for fear of being castigated if they don't and get it wrong and we'd end up with 70 overs a day. Look what happens with run outs - decisions get referred if the batsman is a metre short of the line or has passed the stumps when the bails are removed. I would actually scrap DRS completely and get back to the drama of the instant umpiring decision - it's a sporting spectacle not a forensic investigation.

  • JG2704 on July 16, 2013, 21:09 GMT

    3rd time lucky - please publish. Nothing of offence to anyone

    @popcorn on (July 14, 2013, 18:30 GMT) Just 2 things

    1 - Maybe the square leg umpire was unsure or even if he thought there was a nick - unless he was 100% sure he'd prob presume Dar would have seen it better

    2 - That part of DRS is to eliminate the howlers so that's why clipping the stump is not deemed as a howler. What I will say is that the fielding side should not lose a review if the ball is clipping the stumps on a reviewed LBW decision.

  • jay57870 on July 16, 2013, 18:01 GMT

    Ian - It smacks of self-contradiction & double jeopardy to boot. DRS is an oxymoron: If the "principle" is to get the "right decision" but "in many cases it has done exactly the opposite" - then what good is it? If it's left "solely at the discretion of the umpires" then which upright umpire would seriously want to second-guess his own decision, let alone risk his head for a glaring bad call? As for bad calls "evening up over time" it's a total fallacy: Two wrongs don't make a right!! The only thing that's 50-50 in the game is the coin toss! Yes, "DRS should always be the sole responsibility of the cricket boards": BCCI by golly got it right! DRS flaws are systemic. Unlimited referrals will only perpetuate the problem, the "human element" included. As for successful captains, it's no "secret" (much as I admire Richie Benaud) there's already a 'Captain Cool' playing in the modern era: He has achieved since 2007 the highest in all 3 formats, with or without DRS! Just ask MS Dhoni, Ian!!

  • OOZZ on July 16, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    Reviewing all marginal calls will take lot of time. However howlers need to be eliminated. I guess the solution is obvious. The howlers are ones which can be seen visually by the third umpire without any technological aids (snicko, hotspot etc.) These are few and far between and third umpire intervention for these ones would be acceptable to most and won't affect the ebb and flow of the game.

  • reddawn1975 on July 16, 2013, 8:18 GMT

    Chappelli your right on the money leave it upto the umpires to use the system not the players let them worry about playing the game

  • svearike on July 16, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    Leaving it to the umpires is impractical; the umpires are part of an unofficial union and as such, would be reluctant to tell their colleague on the field "hey, you've got that one wrong". Another possible problem with Chappell's suggestion is the danger that every appeal would be reviewed, resulting in loss of playing time.

    There is an alternative: allow the players an unlimited number of referrals, but if the decision is not reversed then five runs is awarded to the opposing team. At a stroke, teams would be reluctant to take a punt on a speculative referral, and would only refer when they were pretty damn sure there has been a mistake, as in the Broad incident. Simple to implement too.

  • Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on July 16, 2013, 6:04 GMT

    Take hawk eye and hot spot out of decision making. That will solve the problem of correctness. Just use slow motion or super slow motion. The whole point of DRS is to remove howlers. (Super) slow motion is good enough to eliminate howlers.

    If a LBW decision is howler it can clearly be seen using slow motion and third umpire can take a call. Similarly you can use stump camera, microphone along with super slow mo to judge on caught behinds.

    For referral , let the current rule stay , just one or two more reviews. On top of that allow the leg umpire to make a referral if he is convinced that main umpire has made a wrong decision. That referral should only be done by leg umpire and main umpire can't ask him to do the review. That's another way to remove howlers without disrupting the flow of the game.

  • nickvegas on July 16, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    Chappelli is the only commentator/ex-player that has mentioned that the narrow loss will be good for Australia. It proves that a) Australia has more room for improvement than England and b) the 2 sides are not as far apart as "experts" were predicting. I don't think Australia can win the series in England, but it does bode well for the future and in particular, the return leg in Australia.

  • mrgupta on July 16, 2013, 4:29 GMT

    Comon Mr Chappel! I thought you were so against BCCI for not supporting the DRS. Why the sudden change of heart? A senior pro like you should realize that if Umpires are given the responsibility of referral then every minor decision will be referred.

  • dummy4fb on July 16, 2013, 2:53 GMT

    Posted by Nigel Hales on (July 15, 2013, 11:51 GMT) "Why did not not track the wide the Pattinson bowled first ball?"

    If you mean the one that he bowled in over 34.1 straight at slip, it was tracked along with all the other balls in the Test. There's an interactive website where you can see them all.