New Zealand v South Africa, 1st Test, Dunedin, 5th day March 11, 2012

DRS continues in NZ-SA Tests after crisis talks


The Decision Review System (DRS) will be in use for the remaining two Test matches between New Zealand and South Africa after a possible pull out from technology providers Virtual Eye was prevented on Sunday.

Ian Taylor, creator of Virtual Eye ball-tracking was so "disappointed" by comments made by Jacques Kallis and Doug Bracewell at the end of the third day's play that he arrived at the ground on Sunday morning ready to withdraw his services. After a meeting with the ICC's general manager, Dave Richardson, New Zealand Cricket and Sky Television officials, Taylor was persuaded to stay on and will continue to supply ball-tracking for the rest of the series.

Both Kallis and Bracewell expressed concerns about one of the more talked about elements of the DRS system - ball-tracking technology. The pair said members of their teams were not entirely convinced of its accuracy.

Taylor, who founded Animated Research Ltd, the company that sells DRS services, including ball-tracking to Sky TV, said the criticism levelled at his product compelled him to cancel the service immediately. "My view was that let's draw a line in the sand. If the players feel the way that Jacques says they do, let's take the stance that we shouldn't be imposing our technology. We've put it there to help the players, and to hopefully get better decision making. If the players don't want it, I totally understand that, it shouldn't be imposed on them."

Taylor revealed that initially even he did not want to use it when DRS was first proposed. "We were opposed to using the technology for DRS. We didn't think a tool that was made for television should decide the results of matches," he said. "When DRS was proposed, the first thing we said was not to use the predictive path."

The eventual decision to use it was explained frankly by Richardson. "The bottom line is that they are going to be more consistent and more accurate than the human eye, that is just natural," he said. "So when Jacques Kallis says that 99% of the players don't support it, I don't think he's correct."

Kallis said that there were "plenty" of concerns about ball-tracking in the South African camp and indicated that players from all around the world were not convinced of how correct it can be. "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."

It was that statement which incensed Taylor, because he saw it as coming from a place of ignorance. "I just thought it was really unfortunate that somebody should go off in a press conference with those sort of comments when we have a standing invitation to come and have a look at the system," Taylor said, confirming that, to date, none of the players have accepted.

Richardson was in the country by coincidence on scheduled visits to New Zealand and Australia about technology and attended the morning's meeting between Taylor and the broadcasters. He reassured Taylor that the ball-tracking is not an undesirable part of the DRS and that the ICC firmly backs it as one of the essential ingredients of the system. "We [the ICC] are 100% satisfied that the ball-tracking provided as accurate a result as could have been achieved and the correct result." He said. "As far as we're concerned, the majority of players are in favour of using DRS with the technology used."

The ICC continues to face questions on the implementation of the DRS, with ball-tracking being the most concentrated target of skepticism over the system. Richardson said continued monitoring has satisfied the ICC that it is as precise as it needs to be. "We've been assessing or reviewing those ball-trackings on a continuous basis for the last three or four years and are confident in saying they are more than 97% reliable, and are accurate to the degree of accuracy that is required," Richardson said.

Both captains however, voiced their support for the DRS and emphasised that they would like to continue using it. "It would be disappointing if the review system wasn't there," Ross Taylor said. His opposite number, Graeme Smith, stressed that technology has a role to play in the modern game. "It's become a key part of the game now. It's done for the game what it needs to, which is to take out the really bad decisions."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 14, 2012, 12:12 GMT

    @ Chris - simple: add every ball bowled in a match into a live model. The predicted path would then be an average accumulated over the course of a match. The maths geeks could have great fun building in data about old ball vs. new, wearing / turning / lowering pitches... hours of fun!

  • anu on March 12, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    We told you......twitter from Srinivasan :)

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    The decision that raised eyebrows used ball tracking to determine that the ball had pitched marginally outside Rudolph's leg stump. But this can be established with older technology beyond any doubt -a line superimposed onto the pitch. Why rely on ball tracking when their is actual footage of where the ball pitched or struck.This should at least be employed whilst their is doubt about ball tracking! Not just players are expressing doubt -Alleem Dar was shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders, and the creator of the system has even admitted to shortcomings. I can't see ball tracking ever attaining the wonderful definitiveness of hot-spot, but actual footage comes close, and as Jeremy Bradshaw explains (comment number 1 above) lets have the data on ball tracking accuracy and incorporate this appropriately into the decision making process!

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    probably not that easy, bowling a 1000 balls at the waca would be alot different to bowling 1000 balls on a 5th day hyderabad

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Jeremy is right - though I would think it might not be so easy to calibrate, you may atleast find where the error rate is acceptable - say x inches after bounce and y inches before stump.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 11:26 GMT

    Surely its easy to prove accuracy - bowl 1000s of balls at unguarded stumps, give DRS the data up to a certain point (eg. 3m from the stumps), ask it to predict the path, compare that with the actual path. Change the 3m to 2m, 4m, etc to calibrate the margin of error at various interception points.

  • Dinesh on March 12, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    IMO, issue is not with DRS, but with its implementation. Why we should rely on predictive path? Keep it simple. Howlers are: Batsmen edging-not given out, given out-not edged, edged-given lbw, given lbw-pitched outside (just see the pitch map, not predictive path). Also need to change it the way that giving LBW should depends only on umpire and batsman should only be allowed to contest the decision for pitched outside leg, or edged to pad. Whole issue is due to how ball behaves after pitching, programmers can not do that, batsman even the likes of Kallis, Tendulakr, Dravid or Pontings or Sanga can not do it correctly everytime (if they do they will never get dismissed lol). So takee the predictive path out, take the powers out of fielding side to contest umpire decision for giving not-out to batsman, system can work wonders

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2012, 10:13 GMT

    Batsmen like Kallis and Tendulkar have enjoyed the benefit of the doubt their whole careers and that doubt has been total, provided they stuck their leg far enough down the pitch or the ball wasn't hitting middle stump half way up when they were caught on the crease. The predictive path of DRS has reduced the margin of doubt, umpires are being bolder in their decisions, and batsmen naturally don't like it! It seems to me that the vast majority of complaints are from batsmen (who are coming to realise that all three stumps must be defended WITH THE BAT) rather than bowlers. Even Kallis admits that the technology works well enough to eliminate the shockers. It seems easy enough to test the predictive path, and to compare Hawk Eye with Virtual Eye - where are the tests? Furthermore, the technology could be tested exhaustively against individual umpires. Bring on technology that will spot a bowler chucking during live play - bye bye doosra!

  • D on March 12, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    Nobody is saying that it's 100% perfect. It's there to help, not enforce decisions. Cricketers are not philosophers. They should just get on with their jobs.

  • Gerald on March 12, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    @baskar_guha - Uhh, no. Kallis still wants it used he is just agreeing that it might not be as accurate as claimed. Big difference. India are the only people insisting on not using something that is at least slightly better than nothing.

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