The Decision Review System will make a long-awaited debut in Zimbabwe during their second Test against Sri Lanka after some last-minute additions to the available technology have made its implementation possible.
Having borne the brunt of a catalogue of poor umpiring decisions in their past three Tests, Zimbabwe are hopeful that the introduction of DRS will help level the playing field as they look to bounce back from a 225-run defeat in the first Test.
The DRS will also be used in the triangular one-day series that follows.
While Zimbabwe have never objected to the use of the DRS on principle, the cost of hiring the technology has previously made it prohibitive. However pressure from overseas broadcasters to improve television production of Zimbabwe's matches led to Hawk-Eye being used during the broadcast of their Test series against New Zealand in August.
With Hawk-Eye once again being utilised in the broadcast for the series against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) expressed their desire to use DRS in the two Tests, but were unable to make the necessary arrangements in time for the first game. The DRS requires a form of ball-tracking technology as well as slow-motion cameras and either HotSpot or Snicko. It also requires a specialist third umpire to be arranged with the ICC.
Because ZC did not provide the ICC with adequate notice prior to the series, the world governing body were unable to arrange a third umpire before the first Test. Ahead of the second Test, slow-motion cameras have been flown in from South Africa and the ICC have provided a third umpire.
The presence of Hawk-Eye in recent broadcasts has highlighted a number of incorrect decisions against Zimbabwe. Nine of the 10 bad decisions during the New Zealand series went against the hosts, while six of the seven in the first Test of this series benefitted Sri Lanka. While the Zimbabweans have been cautious about blaming their defeats on this decision-making - especially given that they dropped six catches in Sri Lanka's first innings - there is a feeling that umpires have a tendency to give fewer decisions to lower-ranked teams.
The worst decisions have often come on the final day of Tests when Zimbabwe were fighting to save the match. Zimbabwe had progressed to 68 for 1 in 29 overs in their second innings against Sri Lanka, giving them hope that they could bat out the final day, only to see Tino Mawoyo given out lbw to a delivery from Dilruwan Perera that Hawk-Eye believed was missing leg stump by some distance. They subsequently collapsed to 74 for five over the next four overs, and after a valiant effort by the lower order, came within 7.3 overs of earning a draw.
"I think (the errors) have been well documented," Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak said on Saturday. "I think the DRS is good and it's fair for everyone because it can negate the element of human error. Obviously anyone can make a mistake, but the less of those that have an influence on the game, the better."
One other issue that came to the fore in the first Test was the manner in which Zimbabwe appealed to the umpires, particularly in comparison to Sri Lanka. While the hosts seemed to make little more than polite enquiries and failed to earn a single lbw in the match (Hawk-Eye showed that they should have had at least three), the Sri Lankans were vociferous with their appeals and had 10 Zimbabwean batsmen given out lbw.
"It is something we've spoken about," Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer said after the match. "We're trying to get more verbal and louder. It can definitely change a game or change an umpire's mind. We don't want to crowd the umpire, but I think Sri Lanka have got it down. Those decisions seem to go against us."