April 2, 2014

Why do we over-react when changing cricket's rules?

Instead of helping umpires react instinctively to situations, we have burdened them with misleading technology that has turned them into second-class citizens
58

Last week I made a comment about Steve Davis, the veteran Australian umpire, that he was past it, over the hill, washed up as an international umpire. It was a poor comment. It was a cold, insensitive call.

Like many, I have become frustrated with the whole umpiring landscape. The shoddy DRS and its use; weather rulings; the frequent, often contradictory, changes in playing rules and regulations; and fair if not close catches being turned down as soon as the third umpire becomes involved.

The decision to give Mahela Jayawardene not out first ball, after he was caught by Michael Lumb at point - a decision made by Davis, the acting third umpire - was incorrect. It was caught, and any cricketer who has played the game knows that catch was genuine - Lumb's fingers were under the ball, and on impact he closed the hands to secure the catch.

There will always be a 2D television angle to disprove a catch taken low down, centimetres off the ground. It has happened for a while now, and we know that technology is not helping this aspect of the game. Yet we constantly, almost compulsively, head upstairs and put the television hat on. It has become irresponsible to the spirit of the game.

Apparently on the replay Davis was given an angle from square leg looking towards point, with the batsman in the foreground and the fielder in the background, that was different to any angle seen by the viewer. This is a dangerous precedent.

When the outcry came from all over the world, the ICC, typically, went into defence mode, and tweeted a new angle not seen by the masses, apart from by Davis himself. Apparently. In between the game and the new evidence released, all hell broke loose on social media, and my own frustration played a part.

As far as my comment was concerned, I should have known better. Davis is a long-serving official. He has done fine work. While he isn't a top-ranking umpire on the Elite panel, like Aleem Dar is, or Simon Taufel was, Davis has done the hard yards all over the world, giving his best in often difficult circumstances. He has been a solid umpire for a decade. Instead of reacting to one mistake with an insensitivity that I would have been upset to hear if it was directed at myself, I should have seen the system and not the umpire as the problem. Steve, I apologise.

The problem is, there is no integrity left. All batsmen now know that if a catch is close, they may have a 50-50 chance of getting away with it. No one is exempt from believing this, and no blame is pointed at Jayawardene for standing his ground. That's where the game has got to.

The ICC and its makers have deemed that television is way more accurate and reliable than the humans who are selected to stand and adjudicate for their superior expertise. The umpires are chosen for their years of performance to be in the middle at the highest level, yet they are now considered second-rate citizens to the technology that is meant to assist them.

Cricket has shot itself in the foot over this, more than any other sport. Due to the game's complex nature, intense scrutiny and long-winded duration, instinctive umpiring has slowly become a forgotten art. There was never this negativity when the likes of Tony Crafter, Dickie Bird and David Shepherd were in control. Life for these fine men was an enjoyable one. Simon Taufel followed in their footsteps and became the best umpire in the world. Then the DRS came along and he disappeared.

Instead of reacting to one mistake with an insensitivity that I would have been upset to hear if it was directed at myself, I should have seen the system and not the umpire as the problem. Steve, I apologise

The point is that we have reacted to the exception and not the rule. Just like the stupid front-foot no-ball rule was a reaction to the rare bowler who dragged and therefore gained a perceived advantage. The back-foot rule was the correct rule, because the front-foot rule encourages the fast bowler to get closer to the batsman in an attempt to reduce reaction time, leading to overstepping. This in turn distracts the umpire from his main role, which is to adjudicate on what happens down the other end. The rule should never have been changed. No-balls have increased manifold since the introduction of the front-foot rule. It is a hideous distraction to the game.

Consider the bizarre 15-degree rule, which came in as a reaction to a rare bowler like Muttiah Muralitharan, who captured our hearts with his joy for the game and his country. We all took time to understand the imperfections of his arm, but it did not mean the whole bowling rule should have changed. Murali was an exception to the rule and the umpires were dealing with it the best they could by questioning what was happening with his action, as had been done for generations when any exceptions came along. An indoor laboratory is the not the place to determine what is right and what is wrong with cricket.

We have reacted emotionally and irrationally, and it has changed the nature and integrity of the game for good. Now we see dozens of bowlers at the top level, and thousands at the grass roots, attempting to become international performers by trying to take advantage of the 15-degree rule. Where will it stop? In ten years' time, you will see a marked trend in the game and it won't be pretty.

The same applies to the technology used. It is wrong to embrace it all. It is not foolproof. It's slow. It's killing the flow of the game. And it's there because we all reacted to a few howlers by a few honest souls who have devoted their life to standing in the middle. Yet the root cause of the howlers was in moving to neutral umpires all over the world, the pressures placed on those umpires by the constant travel, and by the scrutiny they were put under because of the use of entertainment innovations like the predictive path. Hawk-Eye was not set up to officiate, it was created to entertain. The umpires are now pawns in a system that renders them almost unworthy.

And then I come along and spew rubbish because I am so frustrated. My over-reaction to the reaction was just as bad. And so it goes on. None of it is good for the game.

Davis deserves a good farewell at some point. He doesn't want to give it up yet, I am sure. And I don't want to see his umpiring slowly deteriorate either. I would like to remember him as a cool customer who gave good service. He must decide when the time is right to hang up the coat. And I apologise for seeming to pre-empt when that should be.

For goodness' sake, can we take a long, hard look at what we have done with this over-emphasis on technology and television, and remove the reliance on it? Instead we ought to restore and revitalise the umpire's ability to react naturally to what he sees at close quarters. Before they all disappear.

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

  • ksquared on April 3, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    I think Martin is absolutely correct about batsmen standing their ground. The pressure on a cricketer in this modern age is immense with expectations from fans, money and every other thing weighing on runs and wickets. But technology should help the umpires make better decisions at least in some cases a prime example would be caught behinds. Keepers this day and age will go up for anything and from what we have seen recently long drawn out appeals tend to make the umpires give decisions favorable to the fielding team. It is very difficult for the umpires specially in the subcontinent with all the noise even the batsmen find it hard to communicate while running so how on earth are the umpires expected to hear faint nicks even with the stump mikes on. Hence I think umpires need tools like hotspot and snicko at least in contentious caught behinds. Hawk eye and its use for LBW is another matter.

  • on April 3, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    i disagree completely with the article. DRS is a must have in the modern game due to the dollars on the line. its the interpretation of it that is killing it. it has reduced howlers but the rules of interpretation appear to be set by the wrong people. just like snicko .. where the spectrum is easily used to determine what caused a noise (wood/plastic/pad), this isn't used because the umpires aren't fluent in accoustics and when faint feather causes a change in ball rotation but no deflection, easily viewable on slo mo this also escapes consideration. the evidence is there. the wrong people are writing the rules of interpretation.

  • on April 3, 2014, 18:49 GMT

    Martin, some good thoughts from a respectable cricketer. I have always maintained that there should be some basic rules in cricket - 1. Game should continue with 2 teams & 2 umpires. 2. When the fielding side thinks they have a wicket, they appeal. If the batsman is out under the rules of cricket, he walks. Umpires adjudicate when there is a difference of opinion. 3. No 3rd umpire - Both sides have the option of looking at replays to help their members decide on whether to withdraw an appeal OR walk off as out. 4. If there are TV replays to prove that one side benefitted from an umpiring error, there should be a severe penalty, options - one of the options being - player who benefitted from the umpire's error would be forcibly selected AND banned from participation in the next match between those 2 sides (effectively, player banned for cheating AND his team mates penalised by having to play 1 short in the next match) ...Force the players to be gentlemen in a gentleman's game !

  • KarachiKid on April 3, 2014, 18:15 GMT

    This is Martin Crowe's opinion however I believe technology should be used to have fair play as the ends is not to make Umpires some sort of quasi god on ground, the ends is to have a result that is fair. Even if it mean having no umpires I have no problem.

  • YogifromNY on April 3, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    Excellent article, Martin. And kudos for being up front and apologizing about your reaction towards Davis, which at that time seemed justified. Your writing is like your cricket was - excellent, honest, and enjoyable by your many fans around the world. Congrats, and keep it up!

    I wonder if giving up certain forms of technology (e.g. Hawkeye) and going back to the word of the umpires will work, or if that genie is now firmly out of the bottle. It might - but only if they stop showing the replays on the big screens on the ground as well as in broadcasts.

  • Biso on April 3, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    "Varied form of DRS works brilliantly in tennis,..." Yes it has been successful in those sports simply because it does not do any predictions and merely does a real time tracking. DRS in cricket attempts to use Hawk Eye on predictive mode ( with limitations and statistical confidence levels off course ) which is yet to be proven through field tests. The figures of "percentage of better decisions" being rattled out can barely stand scientific scrutiny.

  • Biso on April 3, 2014, 5:05 GMT

    @flowersintherain: You are spot on. Muralitharan being no bowled by Hair even when he was bowling leg breaks was the trigger that finally led to bio-mechanics being used to survey bowling actions. Any orthopaedician or a bio-mechanist will tell you that is it IMPOSSIBLE for a human being to bowl without some degree of flex in the elbow. It is a moot point whether it could be visible to the naked eye to you or to an umpire. You can debate about the quantum of degree to be permitted. The DRS as it stands today is a half baked system which was not put to extensive field tests before being introduced at the highest level. To put it straight, it was introduced in the most un-scientific manner possible. And systems which are introduced in such a shabby and shoddy manner become controversial and that is exactly what has happened to DRS. Also, it is true that the so called great umpires of the yester years did get away with a lot of in correct decisions due to lack of scrutiny.

  • on April 3, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Varied form of DRS works brilliantly in tennis, rugby,Basketball,NFL,hockey and now in soccer in epl with hawk eye providing real time goal line technology which by all counts has been succesful. Hawk Eye comes from a high pedigree consortium essentially a defence contractor with large portfolios including tracking devices for drones.Science has improved quite a bit over 13 years since hawk eye was first conceptualized.Most of the sticking points have in DRS has been with personel ,Train them right and make sure they adhere to protocols, the argument will resolve itself. Bitterness of decision today is multiplied many times over and its better that we have every aid available to the umpire.But then some countries like to boycott DRS and then hound umpires into retirement which BCCI did with Harper, do you think its fair Martin?And last time I checked ,India had 0 umpires on elite panel,just S Venkatraghvan was on it till he retired in 04.

  • flowersintherain on April 3, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    Several points need to be made. We need to acknowledge that back in the heyday of Dickie Bird or David Shepard, umpires made mistakes on a regular basis. They simply weren't subjected to the scrutiny of repeated slow motion replays, hotspot and hawk eye, so they got away with it. The studies leading to the 15 degree elbow flex may have been triggered by Muralitharan, but they revealed that a significant number of bowlers, including many pacemen, flexed their elbows by up to that amount. That was the rationale for choosing 15 degrees as the allowable flex. I agree that the back foot no-ball rule should be reinstated for all the reasons that Crowe gives. And umpires should be calling no balls when they are bowled. Not merely checking for them if a batsman is out. Finally, any physicist will tell you that the margin of error in the predictive path is too large for close calls, when adjudicating LBW decisions. But it is used because it gives an illusion of certainty.

  • Andrew73 on April 3, 2014, 2:25 GMT

    Outstanding article Martin. Kudos for admitting a mistake (many would not), but additionally you are spot on about the way the game has over-reacted to the exceptions in making the rules. We too often tie ourselves in knots to find a way to prevent whatever the last mistake/oddity occurring again and have made a mess in doing so. Everyone will have differing views on the "right solution" but the overall thinking is out of kilter. For me, I HATE the referrals to decide whether catches were carried or not - I think it about the ugliest thing in the game at the moment. 99 times out of 100 I am convinced the catches should stand. Take the fielder's word and get off the field. If the replays later show he dropped it, let him live with that stain on his record (none of the kiwis I know have forgotten Greg Dyer).

  • ksquared on April 3, 2014, 6:26 GMT

    I think Martin is absolutely correct about batsmen standing their ground. The pressure on a cricketer in this modern age is immense with expectations from fans, money and every other thing weighing on runs and wickets. But technology should help the umpires make better decisions at least in some cases a prime example would be caught behinds. Keepers this day and age will go up for anything and from what we have seen recently long drawn out appeals tend to make the umpires give decisions favorable to the fielding team. It is very difficult for the umpires specially in the subcontinent with all the noise even the batsmen find it hard to communicate while running so how on earth are the umpires expected to hear faint nicks even with the stump mikes on. Hence I think umpires need tools like hotspot and snicko at least in contentious caught behinds. Hawk eye and its use for LBW is another matter.

  • on April 3, 2014, 20:27 GMT

    i disagree completely with the article. DRS is a must have in the modern game due to the dollars on the line. its the interpretation of it that is killing it. it has reduced howlers but the rules of interpretation appear to be set by the wrong people. just like snicko .. where the spectrum is easily used to determine what caused a noise (wood/plastic/pad), this isn't used because the umpires aren't fluent in accoustics and when faint feather causes a change in ball rotation but no deflection, easily viewable on slo mo this also escapes consideration. the evidence is there. the wrong people are writing the rules of interpretation.

  • on April 3, 2014, 18:49 GMT

    Martin, some good thoughts from a respectable cricketer. I have always maintained that there should be some basic rules in cricket - 1. Game should continue with 2 teams & 2 umpires. 2. When the fielding side thinks they have a wicket, they appeal. If the batsman is out under the rules of cricket, he walks. Umpires adjudicate when there is a difference of opinion. 3. No 3rd umpire - Both sides have the option of looking at replays to help their members decide on whether to withdraw an appeal OR walk off as out. 4. If there are TV replays to prove that one side benefitted from an umpiring error, there should be a severe penalty, options - one of the options being - player who benefitted from the umpire's error would be forcibly selected AND banned from participation in the next match between those 2 sides (effectively, player banned for cheating AND his team mates penalised by having to play 1 short in the next match) ...Force the players to be gentlemen in a gentleman's game !

  • KarachiKid on April 3, 2014, 18:15 GMT

    This is Martin Crowe's opinion however I believe technology should be used to have fair play as the ends is not to make Umpires some sort of quasi god on ground, the ends is to have a result that is fair. Even if it mean having no umpires I have no problem.

  • YogifromNY on April 3, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    Excellent article, Martin. And kudos for being up front and apologizing about your reaction towards Davis, which at that time seemed justified. Your writing is like your cricket was - excellent, honest, and enjoyable by your many fans around the world. Congrats, and keep it up!

    I wonder if giving up certain forms of technology (e.g. Hawkeye) and going back to the word of the umpires will work, or if that genie is now firmly out of the bottle. It might - but only if they stop showing the replays on the big screens on the ground as well as in broadcasts.

  • Biso on April 3, 2014, 6:28 GMT

    "Varied form of DRS works brilliantly in tennis,..." Yes it has been successful in those sports simply because it does not do any predictions and merely does a real time tracking. DRS in cricket attempts to use Hawk Eye on predictive mode ( with limitations and statistical confidence levels off course ) which is yet to be proven through field tests. The figures of "percentage of better decisions" being rattled out can barely stand scientific scrutiny.

  • Biso on April 3, 2014, 5:05 GMT

    @flowersintherain: You are spot on. Muralitharan being no bowled by Hair even when he was bowling leg breaks was the trigger that finally led to bio-mechanics being used to survey bowling actions. Any orthopaedician or a bio-mechanist will tell you that is it IMPOSSIBLE for a human being to bowl without some degree of flex in the elbow. It is a moot point whether it could be visible to the naked eye to you or to an umpire. You can debate about the quantum of degree to be permitted. The DRS as it stands today is a half baked system which was not put to extensive field tests before being introduced at the highest level. To put it straight, it was introduced in the most un-scientific manner possible. And systems which are introduced in such a shabby and shoddy manner become controversial and that is exactly what has happened to DRS. Also, it is true that the so called great umpires of the yester years did get away with a lot of in correct decisions due to lack of scrutiny.

  • on April 3, 2014, 4:58 GMT

    Varied form of DRS works brilliantly in tennis, rugby,Basketball,NFL,hockey and now in soccer in epl with hawk eye providing real time goal line technology which by all counts has been succesful. Hawk Eye comes from a high pedigree consortium essentially a defence contractor with large portfolios including tracking devices for drones.Science has improved quite a bit over 13 years since hawk eye was first conceptualized.Most of the sticking points have in DRS has been with personel ,Train them right and make sure they adhere to protocols, the argument will resolve itself. Bitterness of decision today is multiplied many times over and its better that we have every aid available to the umpire.But then some countries like to boycott DRS and then hound umpires into retirement which BCCI did with Harper, do you think its fair Martin?And last time I checked ,India had 0 umpires on elite panel,just S Venkatraghvan was on it till he retired in 04.

  • flowersintherain on April 3, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    Several points need to be made. We need to acknowledge that back in the heyday of Dickie Bird or David Shepard, umpires made mistakes on a regular basis. They simply weren't subjected to the scrutiny of repeated slow motion replays, hotspot and hawk eye, so they got away with it. The studies leading to the 15 degree elbow flex may have been triggered by Muralitharan, but they revealed that a significant number of bowlers, including many pacemen, flexed their elbows by up to that amount. That was the rationale for choosing 15 degrees as the allowable flex. I agree that the back foot no-ball rule should be reinstated for all the reasons that Crowe gives. And umpires should be calling no balls when they are bowled. Not merely checking for them if a batsman is out. Finally, any physicist will tell you that the margin of error in the predictive path is too large for close calls, when adjudicating LBW decisions. But it is used because it gives an illusion of certainty.

  • Andrew73 on April 3, 2014, 2:25 GMT

    Outstanding article Martin. Kudos for admitting a mistake (many would not), but additionally you are spot on about the way the game has over-reacted to the exceptions in making the rules. We too often tie ourselves in knots to find a way to prevent whatever the last mistake/oddity occurring again and have made a mess in doing so. Everyone will have differing views on the "right solution" but the overall thinking is out of kilter. For me, I HATE the referrals to decide whether catches were carried or not - I think it about the ugliest thing in the game at the moment. 99 times out of 100 I am convinced the catches should stand. Take the fielder's word and get off the field. If the replays later show he dropped it, let him live with that stain on his record (none of the kiwis I know have forgotten Greg Dyer).

  • ashok16 on April 3, 2014, 2:05 GMT

    I like the idea that the only technology available should be slow motion cameras and only to "catch" howlers. Any marginal decision or lack of suitable camera angle means umpires decision must stand. Also the third umpire must not directly give any decision (& his view must never be known to the audience). Only the on-field umpire can give the decision. The American sports - NFL and Baseball - take such a conservative approach and do it very well.

  • on April 2, 2014, 23:38 GMT

    but Tommy the third umpire didn't get it right so your point is invalid

  • billbassoz on April 2, 2014, 23:30 GMT

    First of all Martin you should be commended for apologising to Steve Davis for your comments. It takes guts to admit you were wrong. On the DRS I think that now the technology is here it is impossible to not use it. However apart from the problems in deciding whether a low catch was taken or not I don't trust the predictive nature of its use for LBW decisions. I also think it should be up to the umpires to use whenever they are in doubt and not up to the players to exploit dishonestly or to be denied its use because they were wrong 2 times before.

  • spindizzy on April 2, 2014, 23:00 GMT

    Nice effort demonstrating multiple logical fallacies there Martin.

    Umpires at an elite level are expected to excel - when they don't we are entitled to ask why, if they fail to keep up with advances then they don't have any special right to be protected.

    Umpires have far to much influence on the results not to be scrutinised minutely, peoples careers hang in the balance of their decisions so they also must be judged accordingly.

  • on April 2, 2014, 21:47 GMT

    I think the entire system where you question the judgement of a judge and in turn can over throw the ruling is kind of ridiculous. World's greatest Batsmen and Bowlers have had their bad share of luck and yet they performed gloriously. Human error is part of the game and we should live with it. I sure the umpires go through some kind of rating system every year. As long as they are meeting ICC standard, I don't think we need to clutter the decision making process with technology. There is no such thing like DRS in Soccer, Baseball or Hockey. Shouldn't be in Cricket either. Something should just be left alone for the sake of sportsman ship.

    One other thing that I find sad is that players like Lara, Kallis, Cronje or Tendulkar would just walk if they had nicked the ball. Wouldn't wait for the umpire. We don't see many players like that anymore.

  • on April 2, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    What's Crowe complaining about this time? The catch wasn't clean, the third umpire rightly spotted this using technology not privy to the on-field umpires and not privy to audiences, and the correct decision was made. That is all.

  • Debutant on April 2, 2014, 18:40 GMT

    Well, I think that the apology by Mr Crowe to the umpire in itself reduces Mr Crowe's reliability as a commentator in my eyes. If Mr Crowe, as a professional writer, is prone to emotional outbursts and letting his snap judgement out in the public, how can I believe his opinions in this article? How can I be sure that he is not trying to manipulate us into believing that he's this sensitive and sensible writer who always tries to speak the truth? I wonder if he would have apologized to Steve, had the additional replay been not shown to the public? And what is he trying to say. That the professional athletes, whose reputations and living depend upon their performances in the field should not try to take advantage of the existing rules? Rules that, mind you, have been forced upon them? Grow up all. If umpire's words are final, then why not let the umpire had the final word in all dismissals? If umpire is wrong, so be it. Live with it. What is so tough to understand this simple thing?

  • poorselector on April 2, 2014, 15:16 GMT

    In this regard i like what Sunil Gavaskar's take on DRS. The DRS should be used only and only to Howler and "Howler" is something that can be detected by a slow motion (not even ultra slow motion) camera. An inside edge , bowl pitching outside leg or hitting way above stump line for LBW and pad/thigh catch or no edge catch are some of howlers that should be corrected but not a marginal no ball or lbw decision.

  • on April 2, 2014, 15:09 GMT

    An interesting note. In the USA, where technology is abundant, Major League baseball umpires use an imaginary strike zone between the batters belt line and his ankle. And under no circumstances do they entertain any discussion about whether a pitch was a strike or a ball. When the umpire says "strike 3 you're out" you have to go. You can glare at the umpire as much as you like. Just keep walking.

  • on April 2, 2014, 15:06 GMT

    The umpires should wear google glass, bats and balls should have sensors for detecting nicks

  • TommytuckerSaffa on April 2, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    Another dig at DRS and technological advancement in the game from Martin Crowe. Umpires should have all available tools and technology to help them make the right decisions. I don't care about their feelings or job satisfaction, their job is to get the right decision at the end of the day.

  • eggyroe on April 2, 2014, 14:08 GMT

    After reading the numerous comments it appears that the on-field umpire is not required any more because all decisions can be given through the third umpire with all the technical support in the pavilion.If the on-field umpire is not permitted to make any decisions for fear of getting it completely wrong,a raffle could be held and two lucky spectators win the prize of guest umpires who could when prompted by the third umpire call over,hold caps and sweaters etc.All decisions regarding the flow of the game being taken by the third umpire because he has access to all this high tech equipment which has been programmed by a error prone human being.

  • Imranzia on April 2, 2014, 13:18 GMT

    Martin Crowe has got it all wrong. Cricket is not for making umpires first class or second class. It is a game to be enjoyed by the fans. Players are there to play and umpires to officiate. If the umpires or players do not perform well they must be replaced.

  • Insightful2013 on April 2, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    Also martin, if I was an umpire, I would use every TOOL available to me, to assist my decision making, TOOLS are just that, equipment to enhance or aid production. Take ego out, which shouldn't be evident in an umpire anyway and replace with objectivity and everyone will be satisfied all round with the results. If everything in life could be subjected to independent third party perusal and decisions, there would be a lot less anger and frustration!

  • Sigismund on April 2, 2014, 12:42 GMT

    Well said, Martin. In brief the ICC is the source of all this: people in power and trying to hold onto it make all sorts of stupid, cowardly decisions to cover their own behinds. The MCC generally cared about the integrity of the game over anything else. @geoffboyc: undoubtedly umpiring standards have plummetted - how could they not under the conditions they now have to work in? Do they even know what their role is anymore? However, the authorities like to ignore this and trot out statistics alleging that more "correct" decisions are being made, therefore DRS is brilliant. This, and the whole concept of DRS itself, is based on a complete misunderstanding of the laws of the game, and also, in some cases e.g. catches, those of physics.

  • philvic on April 2, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    The point about catches not being suitable for TV adjudication is good and it should not be used for this purpose. Other close decisions are best made with help of technology but it should be the umpire that decides whether or not to use it, not the players. Take the players out of the equation and let the 3 umpires work as a team.

  • on April 2, 2014, 12:06 GMT

    The original idea of DRS is and was to counter the "howler". For example, the LBW given where there is a clear inside edge. or whether the catch took an edge. Both of these are, broadly, matters of fact, rather than conjecture (or prediction). The LBW which might have clipped or hit the stumps is a matter of conjecture (or prediction), and I'd prefer this element to be removed. There are too many marginal LBW reviews. As far as i know, cricket is the only sport that uses the "conjecture" element of technology

    I can see why the catch was turned down (I'm English) based on the footage I saw, but it does seem that a lot of genuine catches are turned down on review. The TV umpire clearly needs access to 3D TV if he is going to continue to adjudicate on catches, since the problem seems to be largely down to 2D TV. Either they need to improve the technology, or the on-field umpires give their view, only overturned if clearly wrong, or we drop the technology for the present.

  • AhmedEsat on April 2, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    This is a brilliant piece of cricket writing full of significant insights few have about the game. Thank you.

  • Maverick73 on April 2, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    Martin, I agree with most part of what you have written. Technology has taken away some charm from the game and brought in a different experience to the viewer sitting at home. Like in humans technology will also have imperfections. Effectiveness will be in how sensibly technology is used.

    Take for example yesterday's match between Windies & Pak. This happened during the 20th over of Windies batting. Sohail Tanveer bowled 6 no-balls (in my opinion) by crossing the side box !!! Clearly the on-field umpire was focusing on the pitch, trajectory, etc. What were the 3rd & 4th umpires doing??? Had it been a closely fought encounter and Windies lost, they would have felt cheated...

    More common sense is required in using the the technology in cricket matches...

  • Samar_Singh on April 2, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    If there is technology why not use it.. Its not the technology which is making mistake but the poor decision made by the third Umpire who takes the final call. SO its human error not technology.

  • spongebat_squarestumps on April 2, 2014, 11:30 GMT

    Well done for admitting your mistake Martin - but there's no need to dump technology completely; only how and where it is used. When it comes to claimed catches, Ricky Ponting knew well the problems of TV camera replays being inconclusive and tried yet failed to get teams to work on the principle of "take the catcher's word". So because TV cameras cant tell a clean from a grassed catch, such decions should be left to the two individuals closest to the action- the two on-field umpires.

  • geoffboyc on April 2, 2014, 11:20 GMT

    Does anyone have any real evidence that the technology has played any part in improving umpiring standards. I haven't seen any. What the gismos do is to change some of the decisions, hopefully correctly (?) and in so doing make an umpire think twice about his next decision as well. His next decision might be to call it a day. Why not go the whole hog and get rid of umpires altogether? The man in the upstairs room can umpire the game via TV, or even ask the TV pundits what decision they would give, and spectators can take along some extra food and drink to help them survive the extended day's play.

  • Wicky_Rulzzzz on April 2, 2014, 10:41 GMT

    Well Mr.Crow, if you think howlers are a part of the game, then you are deluded. Gone are the days when cricket was a low intensity sport where 2.0 RPO over in a test match was considered good. Now the sport has risen in its intensity from the 90 where you played most of your cricket and there is a lot of money involved and there is lot at stake for all countries, boards, officials, players etc. So howlers, wrong decisions cannot be taken as part of the game anymore. A single decision these days could change a match on its head. The DRS was first implemented for umpires to use and not for the players. Most umpires did not even consult the system at their disposal to make decision since they were so egoistic and the ICC had to give it to the players. SL v NZ match there were at least three howlers. K.Perera was not out. Ross Taylor was plumb in front the ball before he was given out and Kyle Mills was not out. Barring the Mills dismissal the other two would have cost each team a lot.

  • wmendis on April 2, 2014, 10:18 GMT

    Yes Galmos.

    It is unfortunate that Kusal Perera a young talented batsman was twice given out wrongly.

    The wicket keeper and few fielders appealed not for a wicket, but to distract Umpire not to call the balls were wides.

    I cannot believe an Umpire like Alim Dar got caught to that. I have a good respect for Alim Dar as a good Umpire.

    In case such decisions; Umpire should have the option to call for the third umpire as video shown clearly there were no bat involved in those shots.

  • on April 2, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    Mr Crowe good on you for admitting your mistake.

    I can't however agree with your overall conclusion. In the end technology has decreased the number of mistakes. Is it perfect, no it isn't and it never will be.

    Things must be tweaked and changed as we go and I agree things like catches can't be judged by 2D evidence if they are really close. But that doesn't mean throw it out there are many cases where it was clearly not out and the wrong decision is overturned. Just change the rules and make it clear that the original decision stands unless proving otherwise. The on field umpire must make the call first and then the third umpire must change it, if need be.

    I also don't think DRS slows the game down, I think for the most part it adds to the excitement. Again a few tweaks including a time limit for the third umpire to decide should be added, but lets not throw the baby out with the bath water

  • wrenx on April 2, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    Why does Crowe always take such a perspective on every cricket issue? Lumb dropped the catch, plain as day, and the tech caught him out. This is massively misunderstanding how camera foreshortening works over relative distances. It can make a far-away wicket keeper look close, but for catches in the hand, the effect is nigh-on negligible.

  • Galmos on April 2, 2014, 9:35 GMT

    Sir, why do some umpires raise the finger even for the half hearted appeals ? Kusal Perera was given out in two consecutive matches , when the bowlers were also not that interested in those appeals. What might be the reason behind it?

  • on April 2, 2014, 9:28 GMT

    I disagree with you Mr. Crowe. While I agree with many of the flaws of the current technologies, I think that the solution is to keep improving the technologies and how we use them. Umpires aren't at all useless, and the SA-AUS test series proved that Umpires original decisions contribute heavily when it comes to DRS (and if you disagree, look past Philander's not out on Day 5 at Newlands and think of all the decisions that weren't overturned). Howlers used to be commonplace (not every umpire is as good as Taufel) and now there's maybe one per test series. We're actually on the right track.

  • harmske on April 2, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    great article martin. as to what value (entertainment or decision making wise) the hawk-eye offers is still beyond me.

    if an umpire thinks a ball is going to hit/miss the stumps for an lbw appeal then that should be good enough.

    most howlers can be eradicated with the use of a virtual wicket map (the blue mat thing they put on the pitch in replays to show whether ball pitched/hit in line or not) and the instant replay to pick up inside edges. simple. quick. likely to provide the same level of accurace as the current DRS without all the hassle.

  • John-Price on April 2, 2014, 8:19 GMT

    Crowe is 100% correct abut catches. This is what Mark Nicholas wrote about such catches TWELVE years ago:

    " The foreshortening of a two-dimensional image of a three-dimensional occurrence can be confused by magnification, which has a tendency to reduce the focus.

    This was proved on Sunday's tea interval at Trent Bridge, when three cameras filmed Dermot Reeve, with his hands resting on top of the grass and the ball inside them. For all the world the ball seemed to be touching the grass, but it wasn't.

    This compressed picture has no depth - the grass, the ball, the hand are as one. Identifying what is in contact with what is impossible and often misleading. Nine times out of 10 the third umpire, whatever his instinct or suspicion, will rule in favour of the batsman when, in fact, the vast majority of these catches are fairly taken."

    Why has the message still not got through and umpires are still being misled by worthless evidence?

  • nursery_ender on April 2, 2014, 8:05 GMT

    Posted by Amit Kumar Singh on (April 2, 2014, 7:40 GMT) Wake up Martin. Wake up. The reason why the technologies are being included in the system is because of the blunders that the umpires make every now and then.

    No, it's because some countries make a huge song and dance about umpiring mistakes (somehow overlooking the ones in their favour) and hound the umpires into retirement. Somewhat bizarrely the same countriers are reluctant to accept the technology. Anyone would think they wanted the errors so they could make excuses for their team's failings.

  • Baundele on April 2, 2014, 7:51 GMT

    Martin is missing the main thing: in the cricket ground we need umpires to take 'correct' decisions. Technology helps them in doing that. 'Acting on instincts' to give arbitrary decisions is not their duty.

    DRS itself has almost no problem on the technology part. If it is only 99% correct, or even 80% correct, it applies to both teams, and therefore it is a fair call. The problem lies in the DRS rules. Once a decision is referred, the field umpire's decision SHOULD NOT bear any weight to make the DRS call.

  • sray23 on April 2, 2014, 7:31 GMT

    The DRS itself is not a bad thing, just that it's too complicated. Leave catches close to the ground to the umpire only. For LBWs, get rid of the predicive path and let the technology only decide if it pitched in line, if impact was outside off or if the batsmen got bat on it. The only tricky area is caught-behinds. If I understand correctly, the 3rd umpire should have access to a stump mic & real time snicko. In that case, in caught behinds, let the umpire's decision stand UNLESS the 3rd umpire hears something on the stump mic and straightaway rules out (say within 5-10 secs) in the case of the main umpire giving it not out. And if the umpire gives it out but there's no evidence of a nick on real time snicko, then the umpires decision stands, unless again the 3rd umpire rules not out within 5-10secs. This would mean 3rd umpires would overrule only when there's it's a clear out or not out and the rest of the marginal calls would stay with the umpire and not interrupt the game.

  • CrickFreak2012 on April 2, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    Nice article. Crowe is a gem, very honest guy who does not look back to apologise if he is/was wrong. Indian commentators/writers need to learn from him. Btw, I am Indian!

  • Harlequin. on April 2, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    As romantic as it sounds to let umpires work just on instinct, it is unfortunately too idealistic. Sport is built on rules, and as fun as it is to allow someone to break them occasionally to stop things going stale, rule breaking goes against the basis of professional sport. The more high pressured sport gets, the more players will be pushing the limits of the rules and so the enforcement of them must keep up. It means you can't have exceptions to the rules, no matter how interesting these exceptions might be. For a long time, we had the rule that the umpires word was final and also rules like 'the ball must be going on to hit the stumps for an lbw', technology gradually started showing that these sometimes contradicted, so one of them had to give. Because we now can't remove the tv replays, for Mr Crowe's notion to work, we would have to change the laws to just being one: The umpires word is final. That, along with a guide of what the umpires would base their decisions on.

  • WalkingWicket11 on April 2, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    Fantastic article. We cricket fans have grown so tired of so many rule changes that we no longer care to know what the rule is. Rule changes made for a good reason are fine. For example, the rule change to add an extra run for a no-ball or wide even if the batsmen actually scored runs off them was a good change. However, the other rules, such as the innumerable changes to the so-called powerplay rules make a mockery of the game.

    The result of undeserved criticism of umpire's decision has made them too scared to make bol decisions. Too often we see the TV umpire being called for run out decisions when the batsman was about 2 metres away from the crease.

    Jonty's "superman" runout of Inzy in the 1992 WC is etched in everyone's minds, but how many people would have remembered it if Jonty's leap was followed by three minutes of staring at the big screen?

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on April 2, 2014, 6:13 GMT

    Well it is called unburdening the ump.Its what DRS does,which it was meant for.From guilt,owing to a game changing howler,from aggreived team/player harbouring ill feeling on him,ending dissent.And not being subject of ridicule among fans,media.

  • eggyroe on April 2, 2014, 5:40 GMT

    As I have stated many times,the sooner DRS is consigned to history the better.The game can return to the times when umpires give an honest decision on whatever has transpired on the field of play.If this upsets the ego's of some of players so be it.What the players have to understand that without umpires there is no game.When I grew up,the umpires decision was final and was accepted,if present day players have a problem with this ethos perhaps the should not play the game.The modern way is that I will stand my ground and let the umpire make a decision,fine but do not show dissent when the decision is not what you want,just depart with good grace.Finally what modern days players seem to forget is that they do not own the game but are custodians of the games traditions,and in my opinion one tradition is that if the umpire gives a decision right or wrong,go with good grace and no dissent.

  • SouthPaw on April 2, 2014, 5:00 GMT

    Please also talk about Aaron Finch's edge that was not given in the AUS-BD game and the 2 caught behind (down the leg side) decisions against Kusal Perera that were incorrectly given!

  • Poholiyadda on April 2, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    Good article, but it should have mentioned the two consecutive poor decisions given to the young Sri Lankan opener Kushal Perera. Those decisions were a modern amendment of the good old thumb rule ''The benefit of the doubt should go to the batsman''.

  • on April 2, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    @Tharaka_N That is a complete fabrication of the truth. The umpire changed his decision because he heard the fieldsmen admit it was far from clean. In fact, it bounced six inches in front, and ai had every reason to stand my ground until the umpire made his final decision. Martin Crowe.

  • Tharaka_N on April 2, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    I completely agree with Mr Crowe although being a huge Mahela fan. I must also note that dear Mr M D Crowe once got caught at silly mid-off by Asanka Gurusinghe. (Early '90s). A clean low catch, but Crowe decided to stand his ground. TV images, not as developed as today back then, gave a life to Crowe and he went on to make 111 if I remember correctly. Should you Mr Crowe, have walked off taking the fielder's word back then?

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on April 2, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    jayawardane's not out is classic example of how technology take decision making to another level!

  • on April 2, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    DRS is must in the game , even Martin Crowe will agree with me , cause he got an huge inside edge against OZ in 90's and he showed the bat to the umpire but still he got a horribly wrong decision from the umpire , DRS is a must for fairplay

  • correctcall on April 2, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    Martin Crowe would be better served calling for long sleeved cricket shirts to be banned in order to ensure mystery spinners comply with the laws of cricket. When Akash Chopra tweets that the best inventions are helmets for batsmen and long sleeved shirts for bowlers it is time to take stock . Either the law changes further to allow full elbow flex or the 15 degree rule is applied stringently. Given the power base on the ICC and what works on rolled mud pitches it is obvious which way it will go. Initiate some debate on this vexed issue Martin. Currently the good guys are being hood winked.

  • chaitukash79 on April 2, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    Brilliant piece by Martin Crow. It takes a lot of courage to admit a mistake and apologize so publicly. But courage is something Martin never lacked. The picture of Dickie Bird or David Shepard taking complete charge of the cricketing arena will always stand out in all our minds as the pinnacle of good umpiring. The brilliant umpires of that time probably got more decisions right then the DRS of today! Agree with Martin that the use of technology should be limited to the ones like close run outs, stumpings etc. We are never going to get 100% accurate decisions.. DRS or not!

  • JustSaying on April 2, 2014, 3:10 GMT

    Respect for Crowe! You already apologized live on TV. But you were humble and honest enough to write this article. I truly agree that technology should only be an assistance to umpires. That is why, final decision on DRS should be in the hands of umpires. Once a decision is given, the captain/player should be able to request the umpire for a review, but that should be under the discretion of the On-field umpire. This is my humble opinion.

  • on April 2, 2014, 3:08 GMT

    Good article. I got so sick of DRS and no-ball checking during the Ashes. It really does disrupt the flow so much and distract from the spirit of sportsmanship that cricket ought to be protecting. It's a kind of pharisaic legalism - we spend so much time observing the letter of the lbw law that it prevents us from actually enjoying the sport as it is meant to be played and watched.

  • on April 2, 2014, 3:08 GMT

    Good article. I got so sick of DRS and no-ball checking during the Ashes. It really does disrupt the flow so much and distract from the spirit of sportsmanship that cricket ought to be protecting. It's a kind of pharisaic legalism - we spend so much time observing the letter of the lbw law that it prevents us from actually enjoying the sport as it is meant to be played and watched.

  • JustSaying on April 2, 2014, 3:10 GMT

    Respect for Crowe! You already apologized live on TV. But you were humble and honest enough to write this article. I truly agree that technology should only be an assistance to umpires. That is why, final decision on DRS should be in the hands of umpires. Once a decision is given, the captain/player should be able to request the umpire for a review, but that should be under the discretion of the On-field umpire. This is my humble opinion.

  • chaitukash79 on April 2, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    Brilliant piece by Martin Crow. It takes a lot of courage to admit a mistake and apologize so publicly. But courage is something Martin never lacked. The picture of Dickie Bird or David Shepard taking complete charge of the cricketing arena will always stand out in all our minds as the pinnacle of good umpiring. The brilliant umpires of that time probably got more decisions right then the DRS of today! Agree with Martin that the use of technology should be limited to the ones like close run outs, stumpings etc. We are never going to get 100% accurate decisions.. DRS or not!

  • correctcall on April 2, 2014, 3:12 GMT

    Martin Crowe would be better served calling for long sleeved cricket shirts to be banned in order to ensure mystery spinners comply with the laws of cricket. When Akash Chopra tweets that the best inventions are helmets for batsmen and long sleeved shirts for bowlers it is time to take stock . Either the law changes further to allow full elbow flex or the 15 degree rule is applied stringently. Given the power base on the ICC and what works on rolled mud pitches it is obvious which way it will go. Initiate some debate on this vexed issue Martin. Currently the good guys are being hood winked.

  • on April 2, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    DRS is must in the game , even Martin Crowe will agree with me , cause he got an huge inside edge against OZ in 90's and he showed the bat to the umpire but still he got a horribly wrong decision from the umpire , DRS is a must for fairplay

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on April 2, 2014, 3:31 GMT

    jayawardane's not out is classic example of how technology take decision making to another level!

  • Tharaka_N on April 2, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    I completely agree with Mr Crowe although being a huge Mahela fan. I must also note that dear Mr M D Crowe once got caught at silly mid-off by Asanka Gurusinghe. (Early '90s). A clean low catch, but Crowe decided to stand his ground. TV images, not as developed as today back then, gave a life to Crowe and he went on to make 111 if I remember correctly. Should you Mr Crowe, have walked off taking the fielder's word back then?

  • on April 2, 2014, 4:16 GMT

    @Tharaka_N That is a complete fabrication of the truth. The umpire changed his decision because he heard the fieldsmen admit it was far from clean. In fact, it bounced six inches in front, and ai had every reason to stand my ground until the umpire made his final decision. Martin Crowe.

  • Poholiyadda on April 2, 2014, 4:35 GMT

    Good article, but it should have mentioned the two consecutive poor decisions given to the young Sri Lankan opener Kushal Perera. Those decisions were a modern amendment of the good old thumb rule ''The benefit of the doubt should go to the batsman''.

  • SouthPaw on April 2, 2014, 5:00 GMT

    Please also talk about Aaron Finch's edge that was not given in the AUS-BD game and the 2 caught behind (down the leg side) decisions against Kusal Perera that were incorrectly given!