New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Dunedin, 3rd day March 9, 2012

Kallis unconvinced by ball-tracking technology


A review in the penultimate over of the third day's play sparked another debate about the Decision Review System, with Jacques Kallis saying he "is not convinced by the predictive path" of the delivery shown by the ball-tracking technology. Doug Bracewell said members of the New Zealand squad were also "a bit iffy" about the accuracy of the DRS.

The incident under scrutiny was an lbw appeal off Bracewell against Jacques Rudolph which was upheld by the umpire Aleem Dar. After consultation with Kallis, Rudolph asked for a review and the pitch map showed the ball had landed just outside leg stump, resulting in Dar's decision being overturned and Rudolph surviving.

Bracewell was surprised by the decision as, to the naked eye, the ball appeared to have pitched on leg stump. "I thought it was pretty dead. I was going for the inswinger and trying to hit him on the pads and I think everyone thought it was out," Bracewell said. "I think they made a mistake [with the pitch map]. I don't see how the ball swinging back in can pitch outside leg and hit middle stump."

Kallis said he was prompted to persuade Rudolph to seek a review because he had faced Bracewell for most of the day and noticed that he occasionally delivered the ball from a slightly wider position. "I thought the one thing it might have been was that it could have pitched outside leg, coming from that angle," Kallis said. "Fortunately, I was right."

Kallis agreed that in asking for the review he brought to light two major concerns about the DRS. Is there a strategic way to use the system and is it performing its primary function, which is to minimise blatantly incorrect decisions? The answer to both, according to Kallis, is yes.

Because South Africa were in a dominant position at the time of the appeal, Kallis said they were able to ask for a review of a decision they might otherwise have accepted. "We had two reviews and I thought this [Rudolph] is a big batter so with those 50-50 calls I said to him, it's worth a call," Kallis said.

"That system is there to take out the shocker. Maybe with your first review, it's 50-50. Generally captains will say, 'Let's take a risk,' and then the second one you use a lot better. You probably take a little more of risk on that first one."

Kallis also stressed that the main function of the DRS was to eliminate obvious errors, because he remembered playing "in the old time when you got given a bad decision and it can change careers." He said that he "understands" there was a place for a review system, but remained sceptical on its exactness.

"How accurate it is, I don't know. Have decisions improved? I think they have but we have got to accept that there are probably one or two that, as cricketers, we will think 'I'm not so sure', but maybe that's an improvement on absolute shockers which is what you wanted to take out of the game. We are getting that right to a degree but I am not convinced how accurate it really is."

Like many of his Indian counterparts - who have opposed the DRS in its current form - Kallis said what bothers him and his team-mates is the legitimacy of the predictive path, because of height and line.

"Sometimes when it hits the batter and you think that's close and it ends up being a long way away or vice versa. I don't think there are any guys that are 100% sure that that thing is as accurate as they want to make it out to be. They keep saying it but I'm not so sure and I think 99% of cricketers will say that."
Jacques Kallis

On day two, South Africa reviewed an lbw appeal which had been turned down off Imran Tahir against Daniel Vettori. The ball-tracker showed that the delivery would have missed leg stump comfortably, which seemed unrealistic because of the amount of turn on it. "A lot of us looked at Dan's one yesterday and it was closer than what I thought the DRS had it," Kallis said. "It might not have been hitting or it might have been clipping leg, and the right decision was made in the end but [showing that it was] missing leg by that much surprised all of us."

It is instances like these, where the predicted path differs vastly from what is expected that has caused "plenty" of members of the South African team to be concerned about the system. "Sometimes when it hits the batter and you think that's close and it ends up being a long way away or vice versa," Kallis said. "I don't think there are any guys that are 100% sure that that thing is as accurate as they want to make it out to be. They keep saying it but I'm not so sure and I think 99% of cricketers will say that."

South Africa, including Kallis, accept the system as it stands but Kallis said he believes the players should be allowed to speak their minds about the DRS. "We are still allowed our opinion as cricketers and we are still allowed to say how we feel sometimes decisions go."

Kallis also had a suggestion to improve the system. "Maybe what they can do is have the review system that shows where it pitched and where it hits and let the third umpire make the call from there so you still give benefit of the doubt to the batter," he said, stressing that the need for the on-field umpires is still there despite the technology at the game's disposal.

"You don't want to take the umpires' job away but you do want the right decision. The predicted path, for me, is the worry. The Snickometer and Hot Spot and everything else is pretty decent."

Edited by Abhishek Purohit

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Marcel on March 12, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    Some of the calls made in the Test in Hobart where NZ won, were head scratchers with the review system Against the Kiwis, final innings). In the last game in the Tri Series, there was a replay of the tracker showing the ball going over the stumps, yet in the side on shot, it clearly showed the ball on a downward track to the stumps ( it was a slower ball ). Clearly they have some work to convince the players and public of it's accuracy.

  • Philip on March 12, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    The issue here is the predictive path and not the caught behind, bat bat decisions. The Tram Lines I would have thought was elimentary. It so obvious to us viewers who can see both stumps and where the ball is pitched. Inserting the Tram Lines is no big deal. Why not have them drawn on the pitch itself? After all it was done at one stage. Let us not get excited here and the billion people in India (or most of them) say "we told you so". The predictive path is for the umpire to call. The decisive decisions regarding contact has to be there for all to use and just for one nation to veto. Philip Gnana, Surrey

  • Gerald on March 12, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    @meiyaps - The technology is not flawed, it just isn't perfect but it is less imperfect than umpires. The half-ball-in rule for overturning LBW decisions make up for any slight error in prediction. Whether the technology is perfect is irrelevant, the umpires aren't perfect. Overall however decision-making is improved when the system is used, including ball-tracking. Thus we should use it even while they are working to improve it. Neither did Kallis say we shouldn't use it, just that everyone is still unsure - he still wants it used.

  • Jason on March 12, 2012, 8:17 GMT

    @dalboy12, just one minor correction to your statement, it is virtual eye that is used by Australia and NZ for thier series, and is a rival to Hawkeye....In my estimation, the technology is being applied incorrectly, where by teams are trying thier luck against marginal decisions, not against howlers, or to try and buy a wicket. Sadly its use is a result of the increased commercialism in the sport, and TV companies in the past promoting this being without fault.

  • Dale on March 12, 2012, 4:50 GMT

    I've had doubts about the predictive tracking for a while, there was a case when NZ were playing in Aussie and Ryder got given out LBW, for a ball hitting leg stump. The problem was the close motion clearly showed off and middle stump visible behind Ryder at the point of contact and the ball was full and swinging down leg. I just saw no way that ball could have hit as squarely on leg-stump as hawkeye predicted. But using the pitch map and showing the point of contact of the ball in pad (and checking for inside edges) would still work out well.

  • Manesh on March 12, 2012, 4:43 GMT

    I suspect BCCI's hand behind it. Lets blame BCCI for this.

  • Big on March 11, 2012, 23:26 GMT

    BCCI must be forcing Kallis and NZ team to say this. There is no other logical explanation for this.

  • Madhusudhan on March 11, 2012, 15:50 GMT

    @Mitcher "Planes crash. we still fly"... same way, umpires make mistakes. so go on playing.

    Fans who were on a BCCI bashing spree... wake up and smell the coffee. Your opinion on DRS cannot be better than one of the best players - Jacques Kallis. (and in case you are itching to bring the Indian connection, I have news for you. Jacques Kallis is South African). And stop whining about how BCCI (rightly) opposes untested technology. Players around the world are making the same arguments BCCI was making while opposin DRS.

    These technologies are best tested in domestic tournaments, issues resolved and the appropriate level of technology support determined and provided to international umpires. Not rushed in at international level like the ICC is doing.

  • theo on March 11, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    Kallis is a very reserved guy, and it never has been in his nature to say something controversial. If he says it.. then it's because he really believes it.

  • david on March 11, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    @maddy20 The hotspot system worked fine in england it was just victim crying from indians about the results that coursed a somewhat stir.

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