This, that and the other. Mostly the other
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:
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.
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