The Heavy Ball

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How I made the DRS wonderful

The author submits a modest proposal regarding the use of technology in cricket, thereby answering one of the game's most vexed questions

Sidin Vadukut

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British pop singer James Blunt performs in France, Buxerolles, April 4, 2011
Coming out in support of the new review system, singer James Blunt has agreed to forcibly serenade any player who uses only his index and middle fingers to sign for a referral, instead of both hands © AFP
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Over the past weeks cricket has been racked by a scandal that goes to the very heart of the matter. It is an issue that threatens to weaken the foundations of this great game, and unleash unprecedented discord amongst the world's cricketing fraternity. And that scandal is this:

Where are the East Indies? What do people play there?

But we will leave that debate, discussion and investigation for another day. Instead today let us talk about the second-most important scandal in international cricket. Namely:

"Why is the BCCI refusing to use the Decision Review System? Is there money involved? Do you know anyone who knows," asked Salman Butt

Let us all get nostalgic for a moment.

When I sit back and think about all the cricket I have seen in my life, I am overwhelmed by so many varied memories of people and performances: Roger Binny's Test debut against Pakistan, in 1979 in Bangalore, Roger Binny's last Test against Pakistan, in 1987 in Bangalore, Roger Binny's superb 451-run first-wicket partnership against Kerala in the 1977-78 Ranji season, and - of course, because I am an Indian after all - the 1983 World Cup in England, which is best known for Roger Binny's 18-wicket haul for the tournament.

But that is not to say that some of my memories are not tinged with sadness. Too many times in my life I have wished the DRS was there to save us from cricketing agony. Let me illustrate with an example I can never forget.

It was on the third day of a tense Test match between Abu Dhabi Indian School Class 9A and Abu Dhabi Indian School Class 9C that I went out to bat for 9A against a very, very high-quality pace-bowling attack. Our top order had tumbled cheaply, but still I swaggered out to the pitch and proceeded to defend defiantly for 12 minutes. The next delivery was a skidding length ball that hit some form of deformation on the pitch - a girl from 1D, if I remember correctly - and arrived at shoulder height. I rocked back and hooked it through midwicket, only to see it spiral up into the sky off my elbow. I was caught by the bowler, who then appealed to the umpire with the words: "Howzzzzat umpirrrre, caught and bowledddd!"

The umpire looked completely uninterested. I walked forward and cleaned the pitch with my bat, like Roger Binny did.

Bowler appealed again: "Howzzzat umpirrrre, caught and bowledddd, one big Toblerone after classss....!"

Immediately the umpire gave me out. The rest of our batting collapsed and we lost very early on the fifth day.

Ever since that experience I have been a strong advocate for using all technology possible to make umpiring decisions more reliable. Which is why it gives me great pleasure to propose a new, revised Decision Referral System that incorporates many popular suggestions from the public and also alleviates the concerns raised by the BCCI and some senior Indian players.

For increased accuracy my new system will not only use Hawk-Eye but also Hot Spot - a technology that shows if a ball has hit the bat, and if so, which are some popular nearby bars and cafes - and the Snickometer - a satisfying device that measures the speed of snicks using peanuts.

However, there will also be some subtle changes to the process of referring a decision. Under my system, if a decision is disputed, this is what will happen:

1. The batsman or bowler in question will look at the umpire and say: "I wish to review this decision using the new Vadukut system". The symbol for this will be raised hands (15 degrees deviation allowed) in the shape of a big V.

2. If the original decision had gone in India's favour, then the umpire will consider the appeal carefully and hand the appealer an automatic three-match ban. This will help prevent unnecessary delays and avoid the problem of excessive reviewing due to rampant, racist envy of the Asian world champions.

3. Otherwise, the umpire will immediately ask Sachin Tendulkar to see if the decision should be reviewed. If Tendulkar is not available for that match, MS Dhoni will decide.

4. Only if Tendulkar or Dhoni approve a review will the third umpire study the pictures and data. The reviewed decision will be conveyed to the on-field umpire either through a walkie talkie or through a tweet by Lalit Modi.

5. Each team is allowed three reviews per day, irrespective of format. However, in each calendar year only 1000 reviews will be available for all international cricket. To allow for fairness, these reviews will be auctioned at the beginning of the year. The auction maybe carried out by any organisation that has experience of three or more years in carrying out cricket-related auctions for tournaments taking place in India or South Africa.

6. However, in order to prevent any gaming of the system by richer western or Australian countries, the following reservations will be made:

  • Current world champion will automatically get 200 reviews
  • Previous host of the World Cup will get 200 reviews. If the World Cup was co-hosted by multiple countries, then this will be distributed pro-rata on the basis of population
  • Any country that has won the World Cup more than once but not more than three times will get an additional 200 reviews
  • Any country not in the northern hemisphere is banned from bidding for reviews
  • I propose that this "V" system be tried till the next World Cup, after which the BCCI may make alterations to the rules. While the system appears slightly weighted in favour of some nations, in the long run, I think, it will make cricket less error-prone, more modern and more exciting.

    There is simply no room for incompetence or Toblerone in this great sport.

    Sidin Vadukut is the managing editor of Livemint.com and the author of the novel Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Varghese. He blogs at Domain Maximus.

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    Comments: 23 
    Posted by   on (June 30, 2011, 17:20 GMT)

    Good one!! and to all people who called it lame or poor, guys atleast u can appreciate the slapstick comedy or sarcasm...... Grow up guys !!!

    Posted by ashishsinghal on (June 28, 2011, 7:00 GMT)

    lame one, have nothing more to say but the 25 limit makes me helpless

    Posted by couchpundit on (June 27, 2011, 17:43 GMT)

    @Arjun Sundar - That is Really Lame to turn blind on unprofessional side of Aussie Cricket namely sledging( their proud word Mental Disintegration), no one disputes the talent and planned attack(e.g. Mcgrath roughing up the pitch for Shane warne..ofcourse without prodding over danger area..which i think needs to have been visited(conveniently never taken up by then super powers and stupid committees) invariably lands his ball to get grand turn(not for a moment i think warne is a lesser bowler...he exploited whatever he got)).

    Look what happened to them when their sledging part was straight jacketed...which seems to have co-incided with Big Mouths retiring(except for Punter).

    Posted by   on (June 27, 2011, 17:37 GMT)

    u r ex-adis... so am i... 2006 batch... our team was quite good then... but certainly since the timings of dudes and girls on d field were different you coudnt have hit one be it a 1st grade or a 12th.... anyway other stuff was good.. keep writing :)

    Posted by sonofchennai on (June 27, 2011, 15:43 GMT)

    though it was utter pun against India..i luvd it :)

    Posted by knowledge_eater on (June 27, 2011, 15:25 GMT)

    When I said 'It's for Sidins and Karan Johars' I meant class A that is.

    Posted by   on (June 27, 2011, 15:25 GMT)

    Good one Sid.

    @sri1ram - thats very lame. Aussies were totally professional in everything they did. While you only consider the sledging, they did other things well like bowling, batting and fielding which is why they dominated World Cricket... and its not like the other teams didnt sledge. they just couldnt back it up with cricket.

    Posted by   on (June 27, 2011, 14:59 GMT)

    LOL .. people with no taste for slapstick might find it lame or fail to see the humor .. well done Sidin! :)

    Posted by Seaking_alpha on (June 27, 2011, 14:55 GMT)

    Really silly article which is neither funny nor does it make any interesting points.

    Posted by knowledge_eater on (June 27, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

    YES. Class C is the best. It's for Sidins and Karan Johars. I am glad that your team was beaten. Btw. tell me the school name that plays 5 days cricket match in Grade 9. :) I don't know what would have happened to cricket if there was no Sidin. Gulp Gulp "Howzzz that caught and bowled" LOL

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    Sidin Vadukut
    Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.

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    Sidin VadukutClose
    Sidin Vadukut has been writing extensively about cricket since he started writing this column for ESPNcricinfo. He comes from a family of footballers, who all nurture virulent hate for cricket in general and Basit Ali in particular. Vadukut is the author of the Dork trilogy of office-culture humour novels. By day he is a columnist and editor with business daily Mint. At night, depending on when he gets off work, he goes home or fights crime. His favourite cricketer is Saeed Anwar. By which he means Sachin Tendulkar. Jai Hind.
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