March 24, 2014

Why the BCCI won't be swayed by Richardson's DRS claims

The ICC's CEO hopes to get India on board and backing the review system, but that doesn't look likely to happen
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How can there be a zone of certainty for something that never happened?
How can there be a zone of certainty for something that never happened? © BCCI

David Richardson, the CEO of the ICC, runs world cricket from an executive position. He also set up and designed the one and only DRS, which is sometimes nicknamed the David Richardson System.

The roots of this experiment with technology date back to 2007, when Richardson was the ICC's general manager. Following the awful Monkeygate controversy in Sydney in 2008, when umpiring howlers dominated a nasty contest between Australia and India, Richardson fast-tracked the DRS to avoid any further outcry for technology to help the umpires in the middle. It made sense; umpiring mistakes followed by copious replays, enabled by technology, of those mistakes, were killing the spirit of the game. That nasty series was the watershed. Enough was enough.

In mid-2008, the launch of Richardson's system was hastily arranged in time for the Sri Lanka v India series. For some reason they chose not to use the highly credible Hawk-Eye technology and instead went with a less established rival, Animated Research Limited, a New Zealand-based operation. The result was a disaster. The details are well documented. The upshot was that India, rightly, condemned the predictive path used, and the conditions of the player challenge.

Since that ill-fated start in Sri Lanka, the DRS has spluttered along, accompanied by a mixture of embarrassment and the inevitable spin that all is well. Apparently, according to Richardson himself, the percentage of correct decisions has risen, but that is going by the rules of the system itself, which, with its "zones of certainty" concept, offers flawed predictions. Hardly an accurate measure for basing statistics on. Overall, the system has lacked credibility, and the BCCI has been the only one to consistently point this out.

Last week, however Richardson seemed to pre-empt a BCCI about-turn, based on his convincing former India captain Anil Kumble, who is on the ICC's technical committee, and also the upcoming appointment of N Srinivasan as ICC chairman. Kumble, who was critical of the DRS back when it first appeared is now seen as an easy pushover, ensuring that Richardson finally gets full global approval for the system.

Kumble is an independent, astute, balanced, outstanding man and player, well respected in the world game. I had the privilege of working with him in 2008, in the first IPL, and over the next few years on the MCC World Committee. Without question, he will be true to his beliefs. As for Srinivasan, nothing seems to faze him, and his opposition to the system has been unyielding.

Two things stand out. Firstly, it is inconceivable that Kumble, or the BCCI, will buckle. Secondly, the system is so flawed that the only long-term solution is to bin the dog's breakfast it is, and start from scratch.

The flaws have been well debated. The predictive path is never going to be bulletproof, and it often shows trajectories significantly different to those that would have come to pass. After all, the system is operated by humans.

The player-challenge rules are ridiculous, with two gambling chips offered for either side, slowing the game down and continually disrespecting the umpires' ability.

The player-challenge rules are ridiculous, with two gambling chips offered for either side, slowing the game down and continually disrespecting the umpires' ability

Take a look at an imaginary scenario, of the sort often seen in Tests now (although not necessarily off consecutive balls as described below).

A batsman is hit on the pad and is given out. Knowing it's a 50-50 call, that he is a key batsman, and that his team has two unsuccessful challenges, he decides to review. The ball-tracking predictive path shows the ball clipping the leg stump by a whisker, so with the benefit going to the umpire, and not the batsman, the lbw is upheld. The batsman walks off convinced there was doubt about might have happened. He's convinced if the DRS wasn't in use, he would have been given the benefit of doubt, so he rues the system. The umpire himself learns that it only just clipped the top of the leg stump. He is relieved, yet also perhaps startled at how close it was, and put in two minds, remembering that in the pre-DRS days, it was the batsman who usually got the benefit of any doubt.

With the next ball, the new batsman receives the same delivery. He is hit on the pads, and this time, after much rumination, is given not out by the same umpire. The fielding captain, knowing it's 50-50 and that he has two unsuccessful challenges left, decides to review. The predictive path shows the ball just clipping the leg stump, not inside the "zone of certainty", so the review is turned down, the batsman and the umpire getting the benefit, the fielding side losing a challenge. The batsman previously given out is watching in the dressing room as he undoes his pads. He's fuming.

Next ball, there is another shout for lbw. Again, it looks similar to the one before, so the umpire gives it not out. The fielding captain, knowing he has one unsuccessful challenge left, decides that again it's worth the gamble to remove this key new batsman, so calls for another review. The predictive path shows the ball just hitting leg stump, but a little closer to the middle of the stump. In fact, when it's zoomed in really close, it has hit the leg stump only a fraction inside where the previous ball struck. But as it is hitting the centre line of the stump, and is therefore inside the "zone of certainty", the third umpire must tell the umpire in the middle to reverse his decision and give the batsman out. The umpire in the middle crosses his arms and raises his finger. The batsman and umpire have both been denied the benefit, while the fielding captain is cock-a-hoop because his gamble has paid off. On top of that, he keeps his one remaining challenge alive.

In three balls you have a snapshot of the ridiculous system the ICC has hung its hat on. Zone of certainty? For something that never happened, was simply predicted? No wonder so many players think it is flawed - though they rarely say it out loud in case of retribution. Also, it is little wonder the fans think it's madness, because it's confusing, complex and often contradictory.

The DRS as it is needs to be scrapped. Instead, why not sit down with everyone's interest and opinion tabled and we might see the following, or something similar.

One unsuccessful challenge per team per innings. The clear direction to all players will then be that the only time the system should be used is when an embarrassing mistake has been made that should be overturned for everyone's sake. In other words, the players are protecting the umpire. The system is not for personal or team tactical use. That would be regarded as going against the spirit of the game and the umpires.

This way, the game keeps moving, whereas if the third umpire was given the exclusive role of reviewing, he would be doing it every time, including for any 50-50 calls, for fear of been hauled up and exposed for not getting every single decision right. This would only slow the game down more, and cricket is already an incredibly slow sport. In truth, all sports can't ensure all decisions are accurate; that is part of their beauty. What is important is to remove embarrassment, to protect the umpire and the player on the wrong end of such a howler.

No predictive path is necessary. The trajectory that is forecast never came to pass in reality. It is subjective to the umpire and his expertise, and is part of cricket. To remove the howler, Hot Spot and real-time Snicko, along with super slo-mo replays can do the job.

The technology that should be used is the actual path and the virtual mat. That is accurate to a few millimetres and is sufficient to assist the umpires with line calls regarding balls pitching outside leg or hitting outside off, just as it does for line calls for stumpings and run-outs, and as in tennis.

Alas, Richardson is incredibly stubborn. There isn't a chance in hell he will back off his own creation, and hence the ongoing stalemate. He is hoping to sway Kumble, Srinivasan, and the BCCI, with spin. One would imagine that Kumble knows bad spin from good more than anyone. Richardson is up against a resolute, enduring opponent. He, for one, has a shelf life, and the BCCI, which isn't going anywhere, won't budge an inch. The stalemate will continue.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s and early '90s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AsifAbbasi on March 25, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    Lets make it simple...

    1) A maximum of two reviews (as in the current form).

    2) Once a review is requested, the on-field umpire's decision should be considered null-and-void. Either we base it on technology, or we base it on human intelligence. Lets not go with a 50-50 method.

    3) Umpires should be evaluated at the end of the year based on the poor decisions in the past. As humans we all make mistakes, but it is our job to reduce our mistakes as much as possible. If we are making too many mistakes, we certainly aren't fit enough for the job we are doing.

    4) If a review is rejected, the team requesting the review should be given a penalty. For example, if a batting team incorrectly calls a review, it should be -5 runs, and if a bowling team incorrectly calls a review, it should be +5 runs to the batting team.

  • stormy16 on March 25, 2014, 9:49 GMT

    I think if we are embrace DRS we need to first acknowledge (1) its never going to be 100% but nor is a human (2) It applies to both teams in the same manner (3) the objective of DRS is to take away the howlers. What has happened is debates on the marginal calls are being used to discredit the system. Imagine the debates we would be having on marginal calls if the umpire alone had made it? We must accept that achieving 100% accuracy may not be possible and its certainly not possible if the umpire had no access to technology. Snicko for example must be mandatory - this areas requres no debate and its awfull to see a batter being given out wrongly or the other way around when the evidence is there for all to see. I think we need to embrace the technology and work at improving it rather than criticizing, after all that is what we did to the umpires which led to DRS!

  • Anurag_Chandak on March 24, 2014, 5:05 GMT

    I cannot agree more on your views on use of 'virtual mat' and slo mo.These technologies, which involve much lesser additional investment by broadcasters, are a lot more acceptable to players and fans and are much more likely to get rid of howlers instead of creating new controversies. Virtual mat+real-time snicko+slo mo, with third umpire as the enforcer is the way to go.

  • Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth on March 24, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    Finally, a sensible article on the subject of DRS. The fact that the percentage of correct decisions has increased is based on the same thresholds of measurement that the DRS runs on. I especially like the one review per team system - the review is only to get rid of howlers, not as a tactical weapon (I agree that 1 review can itself be a tactical weapon, but its use would be too much of a gamble for captains to make use of it). Crowe however, is not clear on why he wants predictive technology removed or how he would gauge measurements without it. If that is the case, it would make more sense to not allow LBW reviews unless you are checking for inside edges. Also - could anyone clarify what exactly 'Virtual-Mat' is? And the difference between 'Actual Path' and 'Hawk-Eye'...

  • on March 27, 2014, 1:53 GMT

    DRS should make mandatory in the era of corrupted cricket. I've often noticed that predicted path showing some unrealistic paths but DRS is up to continuous improvement. The concept is acceptable only thing is make in to practical in the way everyone respest. when the DRS not available india was highly benefited by wrong decisions. It was a mistry which demand the DRS.

  • steve48 on March 26, 2014, 17:29 GMT

    The conundrum is that television will continue with all forms of analysis, and this is why DRS feels obliged to incorporate them. If hotspot and predictive paths are so inaccurate, should SKY be allowed to use them? If available technology to both umpires and the audience was limited only to what is accepted as valid, a lot of confusion could be avoided. Stick to line judgment and edges until prediction can be proven accurate. We would still be left with an LBW that was obviously high being given out ( maybe, with the benefit of replay, the power to overturn such a howler can be given to the third umpire ), but the criteria for overturning decisions would be simplified and the merit of a decision could be debated without pretend accuracy being thrown at us! Won't happen though...

  • on March 26, 2014, 15:43 GMT

    remove on field umpires just put cameras & microphones all around for no balls, wides, beamers, bouncers & off course lbw & caught behind decisions. I fail to understand why benefit of doubt is given to umpires & not to batsman or bowlers in DRS. There has to be uniformity in DRS irrespective of on field umpire's decision.

  • patnaikbiswa on March 26, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    Some suggestions towards improving DRS are as follows: 1. A challenge which is rejected because it was marginal call and it fell within the purview of "umpire's call" should not be deducted from the challenges awarded to each team. The logic behind this is simple, the fielding captain or the batsman got it right with his call and he should not be punished for that. The call was marginal and the benefit of the doubt was given to the on field umpire but punishing the fielding captain/ batsman makes it unfair.

    2. To eradicate howlers in a scenario where the team has used all his challenges. Each team should be allowed one more challenge with the condition that in the event, the decision is upheld by the third umpire the team asking for the review will have to be penalized by reducing 20 runs or one wicket. Having stringent penalty will restrict frivolous challenges and the captain/ batsman will only challenge when they are sure that the decision will be overturned.

  • mirandola on March 25, 2014, 18:20 GMT

    There can be no perfect decision review system, the old 'Umpire's decision is final' was as flawed as any other system. Let's not lose the plot and get bogged down in irrelevancies of interpretation; the simple fact is that - for better or worse - every other cricketing nation accepts DRS, and India doesn't - having, apparently, some mandate from the Above (or at least from money). They must be made to fall in line with everyone else, or expelled, to continue playing their own 'tickle-and-run' razzmatazz (see how long financial interest in that lasts if India are no longer an international-playing nation).

  • on March 25, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    What is this business of percentage errors?? I mean how do you find the percentage error of humans and hawk eye?? If both are not hundred percent, then what is that hundred percent?? How do we even know that a hundred percent exists?? Against what do you calibrate both human eye precision and the hawk eye technology??

  • AsifAbbasi on March 25, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    Lets make it simple...

    1) A maximum of two reviews (as in the current form).

    2) Once a review is requested, the on-field umpire's decision should be considered null-and-void. Either we base it on technology, or we base it on human intelligence. Lets not go with a 50-50 method.

    3) Umpires should be evaluated at the end of the year based on the poor decisions in the past. As humans we all make mistakes, but it is our job to reduce our mistakes as much as possible. If we are making too many mistakes, we certainly aren't fit enough for the job we are doing.

    4) If a review is rejected, the team requesting the review should be given a penalty. For example, if a batting team incorrectly calls a review, it should be -5 runs, and if a bowling team incorrectly calls a review, it should be +5 runs to the batting team.

  • stormy16 on March 25, 2014, 9:49 GMT

    I think if we are embrace DRS we need to first acknowledge (1) its never going to be 100% but nor is a human (2) It applies to both teams in the same manner (3) the objective of DRS is to take away the howlers. What has happened is debates on the marginal calls are being used to discredit the system. Imagine the debates we would be having on marginal calls if the umpire alone had made it? We must accept that achieving 100% accuracy may not be possible and its certainly not possible if the umpire had no access to technology. Snicko for example must be mandatory - this areas requres no debate and its awfull to see a batter being given out wrongly or the other way around when the evidence is there for all to see. I think we need to embrace the technology and work at improving it rather than criticizing, after all that is what we did to the umpires which led to DRS!

  • Anurag_Chandak on March 24, 2014, 5:05 GMT

    I cannot agree more on your views on use of 'virtual mat' and slo mo.These technologies, which involve much lesser additional investment by broadcasters, are a lot more acceptable to players and fans and are much more likely to get rid of howlers instead of creating new controversies. Virtual mat+real-time snicko+slo mo, with third umpire as the enforcer is the way to go.

  • Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth on March 24, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    Finally, a sensible article on the subject of DRS. The fact that the percentage of correct decisions has increased is based on the same thresholds of measurement that the DRS runs on. I especially like the one review per team system - the review is only to get rid of howlers, not as a tactical weapon (I agree that 1 review can itself be a tactical weapon, but its use would be too much of a gamble for captains to make use of it). Crowe however, is not clear on why he wants predictive technology removed or how he would gauge measurements without it. If that is the case, it would make more sense to not allow LBW reviews unless you are checking for inside edges. Also - could anyone clarify what exactly 'Virtual-Mat' is? And the difference between 'Actual Path' and 'Hawk-Eye'...

  • on March 27, 2014, 1:53 GMT

    DRS should make mandatory in the era of corrupted cricket. I've often noticed that predicted path showing some unrealistic paths but DRS is up to continuous improvement. The concept is acceptable only thing is make in to practical in the way everyone respest. when the DRS not available india was highly benefited by wrong decisions. It was a mistry which demand the DRS.

  • steve48 on March 26, 2014, 17:29 GMT

    The conundrum is that television will continue with all forms of analysis, and this is why DRS feels obliged to incorporate them. If hotspot and predictive paths are so inaccurate, should SKY be allowed to use them? If available technology to both umpires and the audience was limited only to what is accepted as valid, a lot of confusion could be avoided. Stick to line judgment and edges until prediction can be proven accurate. We would still be left with an LBW that was obviously high being given out ( maybe, with the benefit of replay, the power to overturn such a howler can be given to the third umpire ), but the criteria for overturning decisions would be simplified and the merit of a decision could be debated without pretend accuracy being thrown at us! Won't happen though...

  • on March 26, 2014, 15:43 GMT

    remove on field umpires just put cameras & microphones all around for no balls, wides, beamers, bouncers & off course lbw & caught behind decisions. I fail to understand why benefit of doubt is given to umpires & not to batsman or bowlers in DRS. There has to be uniformity in DRS irrespective of on field umpire's decision.

  • patnaikbiswa on March 26, 2014, 12:51 GMT

    Some suggestions towards improving DRS are as follows: 1. A challenge which is rejected because it was marginal call and it fell within the purview of "umpire's call" should not be deducted from the challenges awarded to each team. The logic behind this is simple, the fielding captain or the batsman got it right with his call and he should not be punished for that. The call was marginal and the benefit of the doubt was given to the on field umpire but punishing the fielding captain/ batsman makes it unfair.

    2. To eradicate howlers in a scenario where the team has used all his challenges. Each team should be allowed one more challenge with the condition that in the event, the decision is upheld by the third umpire the team asking for the review will have to be penalized by reducing 20 runs or one wicket. Having stringent penalty will restrict frivolous challenges and the captain/ batsman will only challenge when they are sure that the decision will be overturned.

  • mirandola on March 25, 2014, 18:20 GMT

    There can be no perfect decision review system, the old 'Umpire's decision is final' was as flawed as any other system. Let's not lose the plot and get bogged down in irrelevancies of interpretation; the simple fact is that - for better or worse - every other cricketing nation accepts DRS, and India doesn't - having, apparently, some mandate from the Above (or at least from money). They must be made to fall in line with everyone else, or expelled, to continue playing their own 'tickle-and-run' razzmatazz (see how long financial interest in that lasts if India are no longer an international-playing nation).

  • on March 25, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    What is this business of percentage errors?? I mean how do you find the percentage error of humans and hawk eye?? If both are not hundred percent, then what is that hundred percent?? How do we even know that a hundred percent exists?? Against what do you calibrate both human eye precision and the hawk eye technology??

  • geoffboyc on March 25, 2014, 11:10 GMT

    How about this for a revolutionary idea? We accept cricket is a sport and leave decisions up to properly trained and respected umpires who, like the players, are going to make some mistakes from time to time. It might even be an idea to award TV contracts with the condition that replays using all the gismos are not shown but used only by the ICC to monitor umpire performance.. The TV people won't like it but all this techno guff started off to relieve the boredom for non-cricketing viewers anyway and it's now affecting the way the games are played. At a pinch, we could simply use the third umpire as a second opinion to rule out the more disastrous errors of the men in the middle.

  • _myk on March 25, 2014, 10:57 GMT

    Marginal calls always keep the on-field umpire's decision, so are irrelevant. If there wasn't DRS, they would stay the same decision.

    I personally don't see an issue with the predictive part, haven't seen any replays that look 'wrong' - if anyone has any examples I'd like to see them.

    Most of the bad DRS decisions have come from third umpires.

  • VisBal on March 25, 2014, 8:47 GMT

    There are several readers here saying, "We should just stick with the fool-proof technology and scrap the others". In effect, Martin Crowe also alludes to the same. However, none of the methods is fool-proof. Every method, by nature, has a margin of error. Everybody knows of the ghost spikes on Snicko - that is why the ICC does not recommend Snicko for DRS. Hot-Spot has had its share of false negatives (though I am not aware of any false positives), primarily with thin edges or in moist conditions. Pitch map and actual trajectory depend on the highly precise alignment of the square cameras, if there is a slight misalignment the mapping is wrong; that is why you need a trained operator to re-align the ball trajectory when doing a DRS review. Moreover, the faster the ball, the greater the uncertainty in the forward direction (effect of shutter speeds and ball velocity). Similarly, when there is prodigious swing or a spinner gets the ball to wobble, the tracking will be less accurate.

  • on March 25, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    May be BCCI is more concerned about the erosion of benefit-of-doubt to batsman advantage with DRS and nothing else. Because they have only batsmen to play for them (few absolutely brilliant of them).

    By the way, what is the fear of Technology called?

    Technophobia? DRSophobia?

    whatever.. both Martin Crowe and BCCI-aka unflinching Srinivasan and the astute, respected Kumble,, terribly suffer from that!!!

  • on March 25, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    Martin Crowe has hit the nail in the head.The aim of DRS should be to get rid of howlers.So only one unsucessful challenge should be allowed.So RIP the DRS in the current form.

  • disco_bob on March 25, 2014, 4:59 GMT

    I think that taking two recent Test series, The Ashes and the recent SA/Aus Tests, that there is hardly anyone who thinks that DRS improved both series to the point that without DRS egregious errors that were overturned would not have been and this would have negatively impacted both series.

    There is not doubt that while not perfect as it is currently implemented DRS has has a marked improvement on Tests.

    The solution to the other problems alluded to is to simply have DRS mean what it says. ie "ball is going on to hit wicket", OUT. "ball misses wicket" NOT OUT. It's not rocket science.

  • on March 25, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    The fundamental point of contention in LBW cases is that a team opting for a review is fundamentally challenging the umpires call. Inspite of that, if the decision is finally made on umpires call does not make sense because that is what the team challenged in the first place. All on field umpire decisions, once reviewed, should stand nullified and the final decision should be based on all evidence that technology throws. Fusion of human judgement and technology, as it stands now, is dangerous

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 25, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    1 thing common to this Crow article here and the 'famed' opinion poll on this v cricinfo.Both make just about equal amount of 'sense'.-:)If 1 can call it that.3 cheers though to Dave Rich's system-aka DRS-making game fairer,friendlier.And it makes sense!

  • Udendra on March 25, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    I'm sure the Indians never believe in weather reports either! #tooMuchPrediction

  • himanshu.team on March 25, 2014, 3:09 GMT

    This is by far the most rational article I have read on DRS. I completely agree with Martin that we should include only those elements of technology which are full-proof or very close to being full-proof. The things that fall under this category are the virtual mat, actual trajectory of the ball and the snick meter. There should be no 'review' in the hands of the teams. Umpires themselves should 'consult' with third umpire on where the ball is pitched or even to check if there was an edge or not. I don't understand why the umpires are not allowed to check for edges as it is not always possible to spot the edge if the ball is bowled at 145 kmph in a highly noisy environment. I would urge ICC to make slight amendment in LBW rules and say that if any part of the ball is touching the 'virtual mat' the delivery should be deemed as 'pitched in line' that would resolve a lot of issues and give a precious little advantage to bowlers in a game which favors the batsmen.

  • jfgvjksnkka on March 25, 2014, 2:43 GMT

    "Apparently, according to Richardson himself, the percentage of correct decisions has risen"... Lets just brush that FACT to the side and continue on with pie in the sky comments about how great a guy Kumble is. He may be a great man but what does that have to do with DRS?

  • Rajdev on March 25, 2014, 2:34 GMT

    @FahadBashir: Agree with you fully. Rajan

  • Mad_Hamish on March 25, 2014, 1:46 GMT

    1) The idea that anything has to be 100% accurate to be worth doing is stupid. Damned little is 100% accurate or reliable (e.g. vaccinations aren't 100% effective but we're without smallpox due to them, very few medical tests are 100% accurate, there are always some false positives and false negatives but they're still worth doing) 2) There's the statement that "The predictive path is never going to be bulletproof, and it often shows trajectories significantly different to those that would have come to pass" how does he know? Care to provide examples with actual footage to show it? 3) The examples given of lbw decisions and the results show a lack of thought. The idea of the system is "unless it's shown to be clear mistake the decision stands", just clipping the stumps means it's not a clear mistake. Hitting more solidly means it is. There has to be some point at which the line is drawn so they've picked the 50% margin.

  • on March 25, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    I quote from my Inbox blog on Cricinfo: "If the current technology leads to accurate predictive paths 93% of the time, the solution is to alter the dimensions of the stumps during TV replays by 7%. If a ball is then predicted to kiss the stumps, it would be a kiss of death." To clarify, the stump dimensions would need to be reduced by 7%. Also, we need to ask if it is okay to spend thousands of dollars to merely eliminate a howler or two. I completely agree with FahadBashir. The fear of technology is baffling.

  • on March 25, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    A much more simpler system should be used. The hawk-eye etc are loads of rubbish. I think the following system should be enough to preserve the integrity of the game and the honour of the umpires. Only in the following situations a DRS appeal should be allowed Fine Caught Behinds: 1. Was there a nick? 2. Did the ball touch the ground? 3. Was the catch taken cleanly? Other Catches (specially close in fielders): 1. Did the ball hit the bat? 2.Was the catch taken cleanly? LBW: 1. Did the ball pitch outside leg? (umpire has to say) 2. Did it hit the bat before the body of the batsman?

    The rest the umpires can decide whether or not to consult the third umpire (like run out or stumped).

    Completely eliminating the "trajectory of ball hitting the stump in substantive way or not" will give the authority back to the umpires. The howlers regarding LBW had more to do with when umpires failed to see nicks rather than from the alleged trajectory of the ball. I believe there lies the main problem.

  • viswag59 on March 24, 2014, 23:42 GMT

    As explained by Martin Crowe, the DRS (as it stands today) has almost removed the benefit of doubt going to the batsman. In the three different scenarios explained by Martin Crowe, Scenario-1 has the benefit of doubt going in favor of the UMPIRE; in Scenario-2 the benefit of doubt going in favor of the UMPIRE and, yes, the BATSMAN; and in Scenario-3 the benefit of doubt going in favor of the BOWLER.

    Perhaps, the KEY to designing a proper DRS would be a PRINCIPLE that ensures the old practice of "benefit of doubt" going to batsman is retained - and aims to eliminate, as Martin Crowe mentions, "howlers" that embarrass an umpire.

  • on March 24, 2014, 23:08 GMT

    LBW is tricky because it's always about prediction, whatever you do to predict whether the ball will hit the stumps there will be potential for error. If you're going to use something like Hawkeye, however, the error can be quantified. It should be possible to set a requirement of there being, say, a 99% chance that the umpire was wrong rather than going by some arbitrary limits as now. This is all by the by however. The major problems with the system are unnecessary delays, challenges to the authority of the umpire and the situations where the third umpire appears to get the answer wrong. All of these could be ameliorated by putting the onus of truth on to the players. E.g. if a batsman edges a ball that is caught he should be required to walk, if he doesn't then the umpire should take his word. All such incidents can then be assessed at leisure and severe punishments handed out for dishonesty. Handing over line calls to the TV umpire would allow the umpires to concentrate on LBWs.

  • indianzen on March 24, 2014, 22:42 GMT

    As a True Test cricket lover, I cannot accept technology surpassing umpiring system. Rather than technology, why don't you bring up more training to the on field umpires ? Rather I would say that if an umpire is not 100% sure, he can refer as many 3rd umpire decisions, even if that's for a wide ball.

  • on March 24, 2014, 21:11 GMT

    i say get rid of the 3rd umpire n drs both they both kills excitement

  • gamespplplay on March 24, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    I think we should continue with the predictive path/hawkeye - whatever it is called. Maybe, instead of the players challenging the decision... allow the umpires to go upstairs, like in runout (if ump is not sure) for lbw and other decisions. i think ump's know when they are making a instinctive decision with a certain doubt, and when they are absolutely sure.

  • shivasundar on March 24, 2014, 20:18 GMT

    Also, the whole "let's use it for howlers only and keep protecting umpires" smacks of conservatist elitism. The people want right decisions, not further the careers of umpires (yes, agreed, some umpires are better than others). And how do you define a howler? Lets say #10 and #11 are batting to save a test and a borderline LBW comes in, is that not a howler because they are not "recognized batsmen"? Who decides? What situation or player decides? Another idea: give unlimited reviews to the 3rd umpire, and full power to interrupt the on-field umpire in case he smells something fishy on first glance, so he can analyse.

    Now that I think about it, why does this not smack of a backdoor tool to judge umpire performance? To be a selection tool for the Elite Panel perhaps?!

  • shivasundar on March 24, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    Well, I do not agree with 2 of your points: 1. "Disrespecting the umpire's ability"? Come on Martin, if the "system is operated by humans", it is "judged" ("umpired") by humans too, not God! Ergo, like in all of other competitive sport, like Baseball or Basketball or Soccer to some extent, if a human makes a mistake technology corrects it. Period. And don't forget, it is really for the use of teams!! This is not about "protecting (human) umpires"! I say, give the decision to call to coaches of respective teams, without limit. It is only when you put in arbitrary limits that it becomes "tactical use" like you allege. Maybe we can remove the hand signal that says "oh I made a mistake" :-) 2. Why must the batsman not the the benefit of doubt?!! Remember the appeals are for "out decisions", and unlike in baseball a batsman has only 1 life!! Maybe we have a zone of uncertainty - I donno, 5 mm on either side and batsman stays for LBWs for pitching and hitting stumps, or take out LBW for DRS!

  • on March 24, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    The opposition to the predictive path makes no sense. The laws of the game call for a predictive path, something that "never happened" so why not use technology to predict it better? And that 3 ball hypothetical case study is deeply flawed and a great example of poor predictive umpire psychology. Who says the umpire would react that way? All three balls were line ball decisions so why would you expect conclusive results?

  • CatchKrishna on March 24, 2014, 19:10 GMT

    Why not stop the system at the impact with the batsman (bat/pad). This one would at least handle the errors like LBW given out pitched outside leg and inside edges certainly.

  • on March 24, 2014, 18:08 GMT

    Craig - Hotspot can be tempered with and so can Hawk eye...A system is a good system only if it is fool proof...and DRS has not evolved to that yet...if you at the end want Umpires decision to be upheld and then why have DRS in the first place...and you bad patch argument is just ridiculous. With the replays getting more clearer no one is fool enough to claim the false catches (Aussies are the exception, but then when have they truly sportsman spirit)DRS is good but it needs to rectify itself more and can only then be acceptable.

  • Presynaras on March 24, 2014, 18:00 GMT

    The one thing BCCI and Srinivasan has been correctly doing, is opposing the DRS and I have to absolutely agree with them and Mr.Crowe here. We, among friends, discussed the very same flaws and our whole group was divided on the point of, 'The System is flawed, but it at least increases the number of correct decisions, even if a major number of decisions are debatable" or "If a system is to be fool proof, it has be hundred percent fool proof". I am with the second statement. For decades umpires have been doing the job and if they make a mistake, we can accept and move on, citing it as a human flaw. But a technology, which is supposed to erase the human flaw, makes the same mistakes, then the technology's use seems ridiculous. Unwanted pauses in the game, all sides, be it the batting or the bowling side, feeling unhappy and the spontaneous emotions post a wkt being taken, getting dulled down, as a result of a review, certainly makes the DRS less appealing.

  • Putty1978 on March 24, 2014, 17:44 GMT

    How about we deploy a TV screen inside a booth (hidden from general public) outside the boundary and the umpires on the ground go to this booth whenever there is a review and they make the call once they have seen the replays. This is what happens in NFL. We should trust the on field umpires to make the correct judgment after seeing the replays but ICC should also implement an Umpire review system to rule out any bias or prejudice in case there are some umpires who never revert their original decision. I think this will be fair for everyone and take out unproven technology out of the picture.

  • on March 24, 2014, 17:19 GMT

    The only rationale they can apply to these "on one decision when umpire rules "Not out" and the 3rd. Umpire Finds that it is" out" , then the call should be 3rd. Umpire's as Final and should not be "On Filed Decision" Stands. Otherwise what is the need for 3rd. Umpire! But I dont think that will happen and till then it is better that there is no DRS involved. From time and again it is found it has plenty of flaws and many Teams have been dissatisfied with the system. Why create controversy at all, let there be Cricket and The Umpires calls be the Final, like it was before the DRS. Richardson's interest may be mainly Financial Gain..since as Crowe writes that Richardson "set up and designed the one and only DRS" and so he stands to Gain. But we have been watching Tennis for more last 20-25 years where they have been using this so called "Line Monitoring System" in use for the Tennis balls hit outside the Court and being referred by the Umpires and Players!

  • on March 24, 2014, 17:17 GMT

    I personally think technology has surpassed the umpiring system, cricket should progress to the new era rather sticking to old out-dated customs. Yes, there is some level of error when it comes to path system during LBWs but then again umpires being humans can make the same amount of errors. They can always use the replay to access whether or not its an LBW or not, why make a hasty decision in a split moment. Even run-outs are reviewed whats so bad about using help via replay (if not the path-system). The second important element about reviews are EDGES, I've seen plenty of matches in which the umpire didn't pickup up the sound cause it was too noisy. That should be there too. It barely takes 15-30 secs to do a quick review by the time the bowler walks back to his mark they can quickly review it and decide whether its an out or not. Umpire himself should have the option to review any type of appeal for an out if he has any ambiguities

  • FahadBashir on March 24, 2014, 17:15 GMT

    It is incredible that even in the modern age we still fear technology this much. The predictive path is not some hocus pocus conjured by casting a spell. It is based on solid physics. A spherical object of known dimensions moving under the influence of known forces will move along a certain path. There is definitely a margin for error in this calculation as in any decision made by the umpire. However, riddle me this, would a person in real time make a better decision that a ball will go on to hit the stumps or a computer with exact knowledge of the bowling speed, the angle of travel, the point of impact and multiple camera views at its disposal. Now, coming back to the point of inaccuracy, display the margin of error as a dotted circle around the point indicated by the Hawkeye system. Surely, this should end the LBW debate.

  • pardo on March 24, 2014, 17:01 GMT

    Sorry MDC, but, given that TV is not going to stop using Hawkeye, will umpire's be prepared to give it up as part of the review system? Now, if a review is upheld the bad decision is forgotten. What will happen if a review is struck down because, without Hawkeye, the 3rd umpire cannot say categorically the ball was hitting the stumps but TV shows endless replays of an animation of the stumps going flying? Secondly, the point of DRS is to correct howlers. While dropping the number of reviews from 2 may stop teams from speculating, it won't help correct all howlers - it will just correct howlers the fielding side choose to review up to the point that they lose their review. Finally, it still leaves players in a position to openly question an umpire's decision on field - which they should never do. Speed up the DRS software, get the 3rd umpire to review every decision, and impose penalty runs for excessive appealing or failing to walk for edges in order to reduce the number of appeals

  • on March 24, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    Well said sir hawkeye and its like have no place in cricket and should stick to ball tracking like in Tennis there is no computer or human system capable of predicting the trajectory of a ball or anything else for that matter with 100% accuracy.

  • on March 24, 2014, 16:48 GMT

    @couchpundit Spending time in the US and time in the UK I can tell you that the class system which England is famous for is all but none existent. If anything those with wealth or heritage are often embarrassed about it these days. Contrast that with any State in New England USA, essp around Boston. Now THEY have snobbery. It's sometimes like being rewound back to Edwardian times. Lazy out of date sterotypes. The 60's happened here (60 years ago) Stop taking your view of the English from 1950's Miss Marple films.

  • inswing on March 24, 2014, 15:58 GMT

    Most of this does not make sense. The umpire's call is always given a priority, to make sure that DRS never does worse than the umpire. At best it improves decisions, at worst things are the same as they would be if there was no DRS. You want umpire's decision to be respected, yet when that is done it is somehow bad. The predictive path is not subjective, it is objective and is extremely useful. Reducing two appeals to one only increases the gambling aspect of it, and increases the role of luck. Why have a system if you can almost never use it, because you are too scared to using it? The best solution is the following: all 'out' decisions are automatically reviewed by the 3rd umpire, there are no appeals by the batting team. This will remove problems with batsmen reviewing their own LBW. The fielding team as two reviews 'free', and a third one with a penalty (if not held up). You don't want matches decided by chance or bad decisions. The captain can risk a penalty in crunch situations.

  • Yevghenny on March 24, 2014, 14:24 GMT

    I honestly don't understand the problem with the "zone of certainty" - yes those 3 things happen, but we are now able to review inside edges given as lbw's, thigh pads given as caught behinds. The benefits far outweigh the pedantic pessimism surrounding the predictive path. The rules are also the same for both sides, and it is up to the side taking a speculative punt to deal with the ramifications of using a referral on a punt

  • Karnor on March 24, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    Whatever system is used, there will always be marginal decisions which generate controversy.

    Technology just moves the margins - basing LWB decisions on slo-mo replays instead of hawk-eye predictions would move the controversy to whether it looked sufficiently out or not to overrule the on-field umpire. And if you listen to any cricket commentary you will often hear the commentators have different views on this (until they see hawk-eye).

    Reducing teams to one review per innings wouldn't eliminate tactical use. It would just mean needing to be more careful about that tactical usage. I'd still rather risk my review to maybe overturn a marginal not-out decision on Don Bradman than keep it for a howler that has left Glen McGrath at the crease!

    And as for slowing down a game... If we can fit in run out/stumping reviews, and the ever more common front-foot-no-ball-on-a-wicket review, I don't see how the occasional player review would make a difference.

  • venkatesh018 on March 24, 2014, 14:12 GMT

    Martin Crowe's integration into the coterie is hereby complete.

  • Westmorlandia on March 24, 2014, 13:54 GMT

    The problem that caused huge controversy in the Ashes in England last summer was, I think, the idea that the umpire somehow has the benefit of the doubt. Since when did umpires get the benefit of the doubt? It should be the batsman's, even when technology is involved.

    So, if the predictive technology is to be used, the zone of uncertainty should be given to the batsman on the basis that anything in that zone is doubtful. That would avoid the situation where a review is determined by what the umpire's original decision was - a system that seems to suggest that ultimately the umpire is better than the technology, in which case why are we using the technology?

    The width of the zone of uncertainty should be calibrated to reflect the accuracy of the technology. Or, if the technology is no better than an umpire (which should be testable), we should do as Crowe suggests and not use the predictive technology element for LBWs.

  • aditya.pidaparthy on March 24, 2014, 13:43 GMT

    Finally some common sense. The challenge system creates a logical paradox. The same event can be both out and not out depending on the original decision. An umpire gives out and is challenged by the batsman resulting in an umpire's call verdict and the original decision stands. Now if the original decision was not out and the bowling team challenged it, again DRS would have said umpire's call, and the not out stays. Same event, two opposite results and in both cases loss of a review. It should not be in players hands and the 3rd ump should be able to proactively correct howlers. Players appeal as it is, let them have a quiet word with an umpire if they feel aggrieved. But no challenges. Technologically DRS should be only an extension of the senses an umpire uses naturally. A super slow-motion camera, a pitch mat and a high powered mic, maybe the infra-red camera. Prediction should be left to judgement.

  • on March 24, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    What I don't understand is why India won't even use the hotspot, that just doesn't make any sense,I can only think it's because of all those times when India appeal for any bat \pad catch with their spinners and get so many wickets that way that would be proven to have no bat involved with the hotspot. Also Martin I don't buy the argument of similar decisions from DRS first going one way, than the other...it's been exactly the same without DRS in the past, only difference is that now with televisions replays you can make a much more accurate decision. what's better, the sensibilities of the people involved or arriving at a more accurate decision? The latter should always be the right answer.

  • OneTipOneHand on March 24, 2014, 13:36 GMT

    Martin Crowe, you're the clearest thinker's commenting on the game. I was fan when you were a player - I was in awe when you captained - RESPECT!

  • fwd079 on March 24, 2014, 12:56 GMT

    Martin, you the man! :) <br/> Said what I hoped since ages i.e go for Hawk-Eye and budget-but-trustworthy technologies, see how Tennis benefitted by them, the review should be there, DRS keeps everyone in check but we need a better system than currently implemented.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on March 24, 2014, 12:52 GMT

    Good article. I can see the overlay of tennis review technology for line/pitching calls like the virtual mat. Predictive technology like Hawkeye will always have an error component, so all it does is that it exchanges an umpire's judgement for the judgement the inventors and operators of Hawkeye; I don't think that's right. Why not leave judgements solely in the hands of the umpires? With so many miniature cameras, why is it that we don't we have "Umpire HatCam" which would continuously stream a 3D video from what the umpires see to a 3D TV in front of the third umpire? Of course that's not foolproof either but at least it leaves decisions like lbw in the right hands - the umpires.

  • dinosaurus on March 24, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    The trouble with Mr. Crowe's analysis is that it (like many other comments) reveals a misunderstanding of what a measurement is and also of the fundamental truth that all observations and all measurements contain error. The people who are most familiar with dealing with this problem are scientists for whom measurement is the stuff of life, So don't rubbish their concepts just because you don't understand them!!! Mr. Crowe's analysis deals mainly with the "umpire's call" examples of LBW. He finds the system confusing so he says get rid of it. and replace it with (guess what) "umpire's call". All the predictive path attempts to do is to establish whether it is reasonable to leave the decision at "umpire's call". That is why the real outrage is when the protocols are not followed and the third umpire overrules the field umpire's decision where the technology has established that the incident is inside the limits of "umpires call".

  • couchpundit on March 24, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    Finally one Honest Article on the mechanics of DRS(DRS without LBW projections and Class system(like a better batsman would be using it instead of a tailender...in test matches its the tail enders who more often than not get your thrilling/fighting innings)) This is like a English social class system in this day and age which is very Archaic.

    @aus_trad--- DRS should be withdrawn and no umpires from competing nations should officiate in all International matches.

  • on March 24, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    Agree on the dogs dinner of the rules but not on the technology. The predictive element is more accurate than a human eye, it was originated for missile tracking after all. It's only when you move away from the established Hawkeye tracking that issues occur. Hawkeye is accurate, nobody has proven otherwise. The ICC should pay up and implement it across all countries, rather than the present farce with individual boards using certain elements or cheaper options. Don't want DRS?, then it's not a test match or ODI. Alternatively, the pro-DRS baords could just refuse to play India until they agreed. The BCCI are rich but not stupid and realise that no international cricket would harm Indian Cricket.

    What is stupid is the "umpires call", either it was hitting or wasn't. Why give the umpire the benefit of the doubt and not the batsman.If the margin of error covers all factors in the predictive path element then why does the umpire get to ignore it when he says it's out. Benefit bothways.

  • amitgarg78 on March 24, 2014, 11:57 GMT

    If we didn't know any better, this article would've seen you being accused of getting in bed with BCCI. However, your observations are not only sensible, they clearly debunk the myth that DRS is the panacea to all ills in cricket (that's more or less what the so called experts call it).

    BCCI has certainly got my vote on this even if they try to lose me as a fan on everything else...

  • Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth on March 24, 2014, 11:17 GMT

    @ A.Kessel and @unknown thanks for the clarifications. I was searching for the technology behind the working 'Hawk-eye' - Although I was not able to find a specific scientific article concerning the prediction algorithm used, it almost certainly involves a modified version of stereoscopic tracking using multiple cameras and possibly an extension of the 'actual-path' data using derivatives - which despite being mathematically accurate is undone by the measurements taken by cameras. This is probably explains the high costs involved in cameras for hawk-eye (to reduce the errors in measurement). On the other hand, the hot-spot (again overly expensive) technology which has been in place for a while now has shown degraded measuring abilities in places with higher ambient temperatures, however, it has by far been the saving grace for technology in cricket. As far as the technology that have a place in cricket - Virtual-Mat, Actual path and Hot-Spot with Snicko - Crowe is spot on.

  • on March 24, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    I have changed my views here. I agree that predictive path is probably a mistake. However the mat and real time snicko that say what HAS happened rather than predicting what MIGHT is the likely answer. Umpires are judged too. The third umpire as well. Allowing poor decisions on LBW through will stand against an umpire whose job relies on him being not only correct as often as possible, but also as being SEEN as correct and unbiased. There 1mm centre of the ball decisions are pretty much a nonsense, and there are a lot more of them than I thought there would be.

    End of the day, why should a batter get the benefit with LBW and not with bowled?

    Why does the bowler have to bowl at a virtual set of stumps effectively a full balls width narrower and 1/s a balls width lower than the real ones in play? LBW is "ball would have hit stumps" not "more than 1/2 ball would have hit stumps" that's just a nonsense.

    DRS for LBW is a compromise on top of a compromise and I now am against it.

  • on March 24, 2014, 11:06 GMT

    Martin Crowe, Your articles are spot and written in such simple language. Fantastic!

  • gmsjgmsj on March 24, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    Crowe is spot on to recommend the one review method which protects the umpire. However, with regard to LBW decisions, other than checking up with the 3rd umpire on where the ball pitched or if there was a inner edge to the pads, i do not think any more technology should be used as it makes a mockery of the spectators and the umpire in the middle.

    If the umpire predicted the ball to go on to hit the stumps or not, his call should be taken. Lets face it - both technology and human decision are subjective because NO ONE will ever be sure if the ball will hit or not.

    Also to thrash is the eplays of predictive path shown repeatedly on TVs screens in the ground and at home. Rubbish! It just increases the TRPs, the wisdom of the commentary team of what? Just imagine, a WC final.. 2 runs in 1 ball. Appeal for lbw. Batsmen run for two as ball ends up near fine leg. The 50-50 debate. The whole stadium is silent...either of the countries cant celebrate a win.. Do we need this?

  • Sumeer1000 on March 24, 2014, 10:38 GMT

    Think you have absolutely nailed the current issues with the LBW element of DRS. I like a number of your suggestions but there is one problem with only using the actual path and virtual mat - you are then relying on another umpire's interpretation of whether the ball is going to hit the stumps. Granted it will work for real "howlers" (as opposed to the number of 50/50's we see). However if you do get margin reviews, it will up to another umpire to decide whether it is out or not (and he may have a totally different view on risk or benefit of the doubt). Is it possible for a computer to work out the chance of hitting the stumps based on trajectory, distance to travel, etc

  • OldBertie on March 24, 2014, 10:00 GMT

    I was under the impression that the Hawkeye and Virtualeye technologies were recently independently tested, and passed with flying colours? If this is true, Crowe's claim that "The trajectory that is forecast never came to pass in reality" can be safely discarded. I am in agreement with the suggestion of one unsuccessful challenge per innings, provided that marginal calls don't cost the side a review. I've always liked the "umpire's call" idea, because it seems to be a nod to the tradition of the game, leaving some power with the umpires, and also supporting the idea that the system is for "howlers". I think the alternative doesn't really bear thinking about, since it would only encourage greater use of tactical reviews, especially when the game is in the balance and very few overs are left anyway.

  • PranayC on March 24, 2014, 9:53 GMT

    I am not sure how distracting it would be but why can't two lines of paint be drawn connecting the two set of stumps (or whole section may be painted in some light but visible colour). Have a Real Mat than Virtual Mat. Will it affect the playing conditions?It will help the umpires and avoid the ridiculous decision overturning when the ball pitches half-a-millimeter outside. Live with that kind of error. I think usually there is not much hue and cry with LBWs unless batsman has hit it (or sometimes for height). Have snicko, hotspot etc for edges which batsmen know they have hit or bowlers reasonably think batsmen have hit. If you are wrong, no more reviews, live with it. Umpires, despite all the negative publicity when their decision is overturned, have become lax and need to improve - Do they even watch no-balls these days?

  • aus_trad on March 24, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    Disagree with a lot of this. For instance: 1) "The predictive path is never going to be bulletproof, and it often shows trajectories significantly different to those that would have come to pass". Would have?? How can that possibly be established, short of some "other" means of ball tracking which shows the "true" state of affairs...which the technology itself is meant to represent. 2) "One unsuccessful challenge per team per innings". Naive. All this would do is reduce the opportunities for teams to manipulate the DRS system, not stop them. Let me be clear that I am not a fan of DRS: I think the system should be withdrawn immediately, and there should be a return to all decisions being in the hands of the on-field umpires, with video assistance on run outs and stumpings. Over the course of a series, often a match, the "breaks" even out. DRS is simply unnecessary when one considers the way in which umpires have operated over the long history of cricket. Continued...

  • Naresh28 on March 24, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    Umpires are there to do a job. Lets not make them robots. The game could slow down with so many challenges. Lets have the technology available to the third umpire/match referee and they can make a decision on exceptional cases. The two on-field umpires can make most of the decisions and agree and run the game. Maybe the third umpire could be given an over to retrack a decision which was wrongly given.

  • fair_paly_1 on March 24, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    If not for predictive path yet, technology for other decisions such as nicks not heard by the umpires should still be used by all teams as they are far more accurate. Nothing in life is 100% certain. Same goes for most technologies if not all.

  • Neel_123 on March 24, 2014, 9:30 GMT

    DRS in its current form will never be useful because it has an in-built contradiction: DRS is supposed to remove 'howlers'; unfortunately, cricket does not need DRS to spot and remove howlers! More decision making power to third umpire will remove howler at no additional cost!

    Until then, DRS will be used by the players for '50-50 chances'- an area in which DRS is again no better than umpires!

    Add to this: a) DRS is operated by broadcasting companies not the ICC, not the umpires! and b) Playing conditions (bounce, spin, swing, ball's condition) in test matches change in each season. So hawk-eye calibration will never work well irrespective of what its inventor claim!

    Scrap DRS. It is USELESS. Move on next thing.

  • Vaughanographic on March 24, 2014, 9:19 GMT

    I'm pretty surprised by Crowe's article also. There is no doubt the situation is a plus to world cricket and adds credibility. The fact is, the howlers ARE eliminated and this can only be a plus for the game.

    Crowe's hypothetical scenario is entertaining also - he seems to forget that when a decision goes upstairs, it is not the benefit of the doubt to the batsman or bowler, but to the UMPIRE. So the technology (perhaps admitting it may not be 100% always), in the event of a marginal decision, will go with the umpire's call. And that's fair, right?

    I have only a tiny tweak to the system, I think that in the event that the DRS signals that it is an umpire's call, I do not think the team calling the review should lose a review as it was clearly too marginal for the umpire to decide upon.

  • Leggie on March 24, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    I've been a staunch supporter of BCCI in it's resistance to DRS. But what I did notice during the recent Ashes series, and in some of the other recent matches is that the predictive path has improved drastically, hot spot technology strengthened and the snickometer becoming "real time". With three out three critical pieces of technology improving, I don't see an argument on why DRS should not be adopted now *IF* cost in using this technology is not a constraint for the respective boards. Having said that, I would propose a few tweaks to DRS:

    - in situations where the batting team or the bowling team challenges an umpiring decision, and DRS proves it be a 50-50 call and decides to go with the "umpires decision", the team challenging the decision should not lose a review

    - For every LBW decision, check if ball did not pitch outside leg stump

    - If the whole world can see an umpiring error (a la Broad), the third umpire should have the authority to overturn the on-field decision.

  • JohnnyRook on March 24, 2014, 8:46 GMT

    I have got some questions for all the fans of Hawkeye/Hotspot/Snicko.

    1) Is it to avoid howlers or to contest marginal decisions. ICC's official position is that it is to avoid howlers. But a howler can be avoided with a simple TV slomo replay and pitch mat. So why have all those fancy toys.

    2) Is it worth $5000 a day especially considering that slomo & pitch mat are free and there can be tens of better uses of this money.

    3) So far there has been no independent testing done on Virtual Eye/Hotspot. Shouldn't it be done first before jumping on a decision.

    4) Isn't there any better usage of technology in cricket. LED bails is a good example. Tennis's Foot Fault like system for no balls is another.

    In my opinion, the problem is that Hawkeye/Hotspot/Virtual Eye/Snicko have become synonymous with DRS. I think DRS should be used but only with simple slomo replay and and pitch mat to remove an absolute howler where only the umpire was wrong and even he would thank DRS after the match.

  • on March 24, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    India should agree to DRS,as it atleast help very bad decision to be reversed.more & more use of techonology is good for game of cricket,and it will help in increasing the popularity.

  • screamingeagle on March 24, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    Well balanced opinion from Martin, as it usually is. Big fan here. However, this article will have a lot of dissidents, since it does support the BCCI stand. As we all see from these forums, anything India or BCCI supports is considered wrong and hence not worth supporting. My view is that if anything has to replace the umpiring system as is (ie minus DRS) it should show credibility. Unfortunately DRS is anything but that. The argument that DRS is a work in progress and it will improve and 'one day' will bear fruit is inherently flawed because all we are doing is replacing something that is flawed with another that is just as flawed. Not very astute, in my opinion. As regards Richardson or ICC, instead of blindly supporting DRS, maybe it would be worthwhile to take all opinions on board and see what can be improved to make it a realistic option, instead of just pushing it. As Martin says, this way the stalemate will just drag on.

  • dogandbone on March 24, 2014, 7:31 GMT

    there should be a line marked on the side of the pitch say a metre from the front batting crease line...if the ball lands on or on the bowlers side of that line you cant be given out LBW....to much doubt...

  • IndiaNumeroUno on March 24, 2014, 7:23 GMT

    @Haaris: you need to increase your general knowledge. Astrology is not considered science but a branch of Vedanga. In any case, over a sufficiently large data set, it's much more accurate than DRS :))

  • bouncer709 on March 24, 2014, 7:19 GMT

    The people who criticize DRS actually using DRS to analyse the DRS, if there is no DRS and no replay/hawk eyes shown how would you know that the umpire made right decision or wrong.

  • Harmony111 on March 24, 2014, 7:12 GMT

    @electric_loco_WAP4:

    And who told you that the stats are 98% with DRS compared to 92% without it? Your uncle?

    India got more cricket supporters than the rest of the cricketing nations put together. So by the rules of democracies, DRS should go. This is your own logic, isn't it?

    Before you sing so loudly about DRS, would you please first stabilize the system? Every two months we hear some component of DRS has been done away with or made less significant or changed completely. Putting so much money on a horse that is still a colt is something only a very foolish man would do. But then, being smart has never been the forte of ppl like you.

  • jfgvjksnkka on March 24, 2014, 6:55 GMT

    This is the most bias article I have read this year. Crowe says " it often shows trajectories significantly different to those that would have come to pass" ummmm I watch hundreds of hours of cricket and the last time I saw this was a phil hughes incident years ago. Please explain what often means.

    "slowing the game down" really? are we still using that one?

    The basic premise is that the umpires decision stands unless there is obvious evidence to overturn. I see MANY bad decisions that are rectified by the system, I see very, very few good decisions that are reversed.

    The system is great and will only get better.

  • CMarshBLilly on March 24, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    I am reading your articles for quite some time now Martin.....You are really blooming now and will become one of the finest cricket writers if you continue in the same vain, if not already now. Great job Martin. This DRS was flawed from the moment it started is no secret. BCCI , however much I do not agree with them, are spot on and stuck their neck out when others were ridiculing the side taken by India. They are all now appreciating this including cheppaali and ravi....Three decisions possible for an identical delivery as you have pointed out makes mockery of any decision system. The Last two Ashes series demonstrated the folly clearly... The same Coock who was intelligent in England was off his knockers in Australia...and Clerk vice-versa. The ball Trajectory system is not accurate at all I an engineer know this for certain.( Will it ever read the path of a revers swing accurately .. apart from pitch hardness, air density etc which can alter the path ).Weldon Martin

  • nothingnew on March 24, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    @Rahul Jha Then BCCI can handle umpires bcos BCCI is among the top 3 > How do they will treat to others team ? why run out goes to 3rd umpire . why it can't keep with umpires .

  • on March 24, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    @ teju666 good point, which is also mine too, put differently. As you state we accept the umpires subjective calculation for an LBW. Its enough. Instead we confuse it all with DRS and slow the game down, which is crickets Achilles heel. Technology instead can play a simple role, to remove embarrassment. Its enough, all that is required. Yet DRS spins that its close to 100% accurate in decisions now made, to justify its systems mechanics and design. Start again, deploy it better as you say, and the game will flow and be better for it.

  • on March 24, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    @harris astrology isnt considered a science in india. u shdblearn to accept others views even they are against yours

  • omairhr on March 24, 2014, 6:02 GMT

    The moment an Indian company comes up with similar technology which BCCI can buy and patent, DRS would be all fine.

  • on March 24, 2014, 5:51 GMT

    Nothing in life is perfect.But if something achieves better results than what something earlier was yielding it is time to adopt it.The only trouble in DRS arise when humans interpret it according to their own whims, like they did in Ashes in ENgland in 2013, and the Philander call by Illingworth recently.If better training is provided to the third umpire in the box these howlers will sort themselves out.Regarding one given other not given,thats just human tendency .Go over video of Ameer Nazir taking two wickets and being denied hat trick when logie was plumb while just a moment before he had ruled the earlier batsman out lbw.

  • pravineswar on March 24, 2014, 5:46 GMT

    I suggest to keep a different system Batsman One review for each batsman. For every 3rd unsuccessful review, batsman to be suspended immediately for next match and fined fine - 10% (match fee) for first, 50% for second, 100% for third review with immediate suspension for next match (period of one year). next year start fresh again. Bowling Team 3 reviews / match, 3 review / 80 overs. 3 consecutive unsuccessful reviews - fine - 50% (match fee for all members) 10 unsuccessful reviews - fine - 100% (match fee for all members) with immediate captain suspension for next match.

    No ball tracking method. Just refer to third umpire. with slow motion replays third umpire can decide LBW's along with snickometer and hot spots.

  • on March 24, 2014, 5:38 GMT

    @ Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth - to clarify, the predictive path is not accurate, its a scientific guess, it never happened. The actual path is real data, error to a millimetre or so. Hawkeye and ARL are competitors who provide the technology or actual and predictive paths, snd they are both fine companies. The only time LBWs should be reviewed, are as you suggest, for inside edges using hotspot and real time snicko, or using the mat that covers stump to stump, whether the ball pitched outside leg or hit outside off. I.e. the line of the ball that actually took place, like in tennis. Hope that helps.

  • teju666 on March 24, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    The whole argument by Crowe has a fundamental flaw. The examples of LBW decision have an underlying assumption that the predictive paths are incorrect/assumptions/calculations and therefore two deemed identical trajectories can have different results based on what the umpire decides in the first place. Umpires also use mental calculations to determine the 'zone of certainty'. Are they right all the time. No. But we accept that. All DRS is doing is further narrowing down this zone. Is it accurate? No. But it is better than what the umpire thinks. The problem is how we are using it. We let umpires decide first, then we get the review system and then a decision - complicating DRS which is just a tool that gives better data. Can then, umpires use DRS to determine first, what was happening and then give a decision. That way we eliminate the paradox of 2 possible outcomes for an appeal. ICC needs to fix deploying DRS. DRS's technical limitations will only improve with time.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 24, 2014, 5:27 GMT

    Well DRS is here to stay.Whether BCCI likes it or not.Rest of sane thinking world-and all teams-like,support it.Stats prove it too-98 p.c correct decisions instead of 92 w/o it.So by rules of democracy-99 p.c pro DRS-and stats,only 1 winner-tech,aka,DRS.

  • A.Kessell on March 24, 2014, 5:22 GMT

    @ Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth: As far as I understand virtual mat is what some commentators often refer to as the 'tram lines' or the highlighted strip on the middle pitch that you see when they are checking the LBW and if the ball pitched/ hit in line. Actual path is the path that the ball has taken from bowlers hand to batsmen's pad as filmed by a ball tracking system of really expensive camera's. One of these systems is called hawk-eye. Hope this helps and if i made a mistake someone please point it out.

  • A.Kessell on March 24, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    To expand on my other post I feel this is born out of the number of pieces claiming umpires need protection. This is a ludicrous concept, they are grown men making decisions and are in no more need of protection from intimidation, irrational hate or being hoodwinked than the players are. By implementing umpiring changes that place the third umpire at the center of the process you no longer need 3 competant umpires and 1 backup per game. instead you need 1 good umpire in the tv umpire chair, possibly 1 competant assistant, and two onfield representatives that do not need to be world class umpires as they are there to convey messages more in the mould of a soccer linesman. Needing less world class umpires and making umpiring itslef less taxing and dependant on physical senses is in itself a worthwhile persuit as we play more international cricket with a stagnant pool of high class umpires

  • Antony_Lucas on March 24, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    The DRS is a magnifient beast. Coupled with competent umpires, it makes the game as a whole that more much complete. Dodgy umpires are 500 times the problem the DRS will ever be

  • A.Kessell on March 24, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    I think a suitable compromise would be to remove the ideas of 'challenges' and 'umpires-call' completly. First I will admit not knowing much about the current state of predictive path tech so I won't comment one way or the other. But I do propose making the 3rd umpire the main umpire and the two onfield umpires taking the role of supporting foil. Basically the 3rd umpire will become the main arbiter of front foot no-balls, lbw, edges ect. with the onfield umpires there to keep the peace, note the appeal and convey the 3rd umpire's dicisions. The 3rd umpire has the constant benefit of camera's and can give the most consistant decisions. His decision making can be sped up if he is in constant contact with his onfield collegues and they work as a three man team on each call. Limiting him to use of snicko, slowmo and hotspot is fine as long as he isnt waiting to be called upon, but actively umpiring the game from the stands.

  • DVSK on March 24, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    Crowe sure played cricket well but doesn't write very convincing articles, maybe convincing on the surface to one easily swayed but it falls apart if you analyse his words. I'm not even talking about the content of his opinion but the delivery. Couldn't win a high school debate with this sort of weak delivery.

  • on March 24, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    or lets just take this system away from the players and hand it over to the umpires.

  • Starvybz on March 24, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    How can there be a zone of certainty for something that never happened? If we all thought like this then i would be sending punch cards by post for cricinfo to publish my comment.All this DRS dilemma is centred around one thing which is that humans created this system to be used by humans.Therefore the chances of getting your expected decision will not always happen . Wherever technology is involved there will always be failure and success. Nothing will ever be perfect as is the expectation of many. If you look back at many of the situations in which the findings of the DRS system was thought to be trivial,was it really the fault of the technology or the way in which its findings were interpreted.Therefore for this system's success rate to increase the ICC must specify precisely what measures must be taken for each situation in which a batsman is given out or not. At the end of the day DRS is not the one raising the finger.The ICC must specify what is true and what is false.

  • on March 24, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    very well written. the faults of the drs are evident but nobody will agree coz that will mean the bcci was right. its time to do away with it

  • on March 24, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    very well written. the faults of the drs are evident but nobody will agree coz that will mean the bcci was right. its time to do away with it

  • Starvybz on March 24, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    How can there be a zone of certainty for something that never happened? If we all thought like this then i would be sending punch cards by post for cricinfo to publish my comment.All this DRS dilemma is centred around one thing which is that humans created this system to be used by humans.Therefore the chances of getting your expected decision will not always happen . Wherever technology is involved there will always be failure and success. Nothing will ever be perfect as is the expectation of many. If you look back at many of the situations in which the findings of the DRS system was thought to be trivial,was it really the fault of the technology or the way in which its findings were interpreted.Therefore for this system's success rate to increase the ICC must specify precisely what measures must be taken for each situation in which a batsman is given out or not. At the end of the day DRS is not the one raising the finger.The ICC must specify what is true and what is false.

  • on March 24, 2014, 4:04 GMT

    or lets just take this system away from the players and hand it over to the umpires.

  • DVSK on March 24, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    Crowe sure played cricket well but doesn't write very convincing articles, maybe convincing on the surface to one easily swayed but it falls apart if you analyse his words. I'm not even talking about the content of his opinion but the delivery. Couldn't win a high school debate with this sort of weak delivery.

  • A.Kessell on March 24, 2014, 4:18 GMT

    I think a suitable compromise would be to remove the ideas of 'challenges' and 'umpires-call' completly. First I will admit not knowing much about the current state of predictive path tech so I won't comment one way or the other. But I do propose making the 3rd umpire the main umpire and the two onfield umpires taking the role of supporting foil. Basically the 3rd umpire will become the main arbiter of front foot no-balls, lbw, edges ect. with the onfield umpires there to keep the peace, note the appeal and convey the 3rd umpire's dicisions. The 3rd umpire has the constant benefit of camera's and can give the most consistant decisions. His decision making can be sped up if he is in constant contact with his onfield collegues and they work as a three man team on each call. Limiting him to use of snicko, slowmo and hotspot is fine as long as he isnt waiting to be called upon, but actively umpiring the game from the stands.

  • Antony_Lucas on March 24, 2014, 4:26 GMT

    The DRS is a magnifient beast. Coupled with competent umpires, it makes the game as a whole that more much complete. Dodgy umpires are 500 times the problem the DRS will ever be

  • A.Kessell on March 24, 2014, 4:37 GMT

    To expand on my other post I feel this is born out of the number of pieces claiming umpires need protection. This is a ludicrous concept, they are grown men making decisions and are in no more need of protection from intimidation, irrational hate or being hoodwinked than the players are. By implementing umpiring changes that place the third umpire at the center of the process you no longer need 3 competant umpires and 1 backup per game. instead you need 1 good umpire in the tv umpire chair, possibly 1 competant assistant, and two onfield representatives that do not need to be world class umpires as they are there to convey messages more in the mould of a soccer linesman. Needing less world class umpires and making umpiring itslef less taxing and dependant on physical senses is in itself a worthwhile persuit as we play more international cricket with a stagnant pool of high class umpires

  • A.Kessell on March 24, 2014, 5:22 GMT

    @ Sauron_Of_Middle_Earth: As far as I understand virtual mat is what some commentators often refer to as the 'tram lines' or the highlighted strip on the middle pitch that you see when they are checking the LBW and if the ball pitched/ hit in line. Actual path is the path that the ball has taken from bowlers hand to batsmen's pad as filmed by a ball tracking system of really expensive camera's. One of these systems is called hawk-eye. Hope this helps and if i made a mistake someone please point it out.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on March 24, 2014, 5:27 GMT

    Well DRS is here to stay.Whether BCCI likes it or not.Rest of sane thinking world-and all teams-like,support it.Stats prove it too-98 p.c correct decisions instead of 92 w/o it.So by rules of democracy-99 p.c pro DRS-and stats,only 1 winner-tech,aka,DRS.

  • teju666 on March 24, 2014, 5:35 GMT

    The whole argument by Crowe has a fundamental flaw. The examples of LBW decision have an underlying assumption that the predictive paths are incorrect/assumptions/calculations and therefore two deemed identical trajectories can have different results based on what the umpire decides in the first place. Umpires also use mental calculations to determine the 'zone of certainty'. Are they right all the time. No. But we accept that. All DRS is doing is further narrowing down this zone. Is it accurate? No. But it is better than what the umpire thinks. The problem is how we are using it. We let umpires decide first, then we get the review system and then a decision - complicating DRS which is just a tool that gives better data. Can then, umpires use DRS to determine first, what was happening and then give a decision. That way we eliminate the paradox of 2 possible outcomes for an appeal. ICC needs to fix deploying DRS. DRS's technical limitations will only improve with time.