The ICC's cricket committee and its chief executives' committee want the global body to take "more control" of the decision review system (DRS), the ICC chief executive David Richardson has said.
"Moving forward we probably need to take heed of what the cricket committee is saying, take heed of what the chief executives' committee is saying, which is ICC should take more control over DRS," Richardson said at the end of the six-day annual conference in Edinburgh on Saturday.
Ever since it was first used in international cricket the DRS has polarised opinion despite some of the higher-ranked ICC officials, such as Richardson and current general manager Geoff Allardice, asserting that the system has been improving and performing consistently over time. Regardless, players and match officials have pointed out that it does not help if different technologies are used for DRS in different countries.
Other than firm opposition from the BCCI, its most powerful member, the ICC has pointed out that high costs was a factor behind not funding the DRS. "So the implications of that need to be worked out: what is it going to cost, what it will take for the ICC to take more control, do we need to buy technologies, rent technologies etc," Richardson said. "And, then, hopefully we would be able to implement down the line a more consistent form of DRS - wherever it is used it should be consistent. The players understand it, the umpires understand it, and the fans as well."
Last year the ICC commissioned engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to independently assess the performance of the technologies that are part of the DRS: ball-tracking and edge-detection. Allardice and former India captain and current head coach Anil Kumble, who is also head of the ICC cricket committee, were closely involved in the process. This June, the cricket committee was given a detailed report by the MIT experts.
The aim of the testing process, Allardice told ESPNcricinfo recently, was for the researchers "to present their findings on each of the technologies they have assessed or observed to the CC (cricket committee) - their observations of the technology and their suitability for use". He said that it was for the cricket committee to provide direction to the future use of the DRS.
"Ideally the cricket committee was very much in favour of, if we are going to have DRS it should be consistently applied. I think once we get a system which everyone trusts then we are much closer to having a system which all teams will accept," Richardson said in Edinburgh. "DRS has been around since 2011 (2008 was the first time it was trialled) and when it was first introduced the ball-tracking technology in most peoples' eyes was good. But since then it has got better. We knew it was far more accurate than all the doubters were giving it credit for."
The BCCI has been the main critic of the DRS and specifically the ball-tracking technology, which it has said is not 100% accurate. Richardson said the testing process provided some hope. "The report is very encouraging. The report shows that actually ball tracking is ever more accurate than we perhaps gave it credit for."
Consequently the ICC decided to modify the umpire's call aspect of lbw referrals: from October 1, for on-field lbw decisions to be overturned, half of the ball would now need to hit any part of the stumps. Earlier, half of the ball needed to hit a zone between the middle of off stump and the middle of leg stump.
Richardson said this was only possible because the MIT testing had proved ball tracking was good enough. "And for that reason we are able to safely reduce the margin of uncertainty or the umpire's call as we refer to. Ian Botham and all these experts were always saying "how can that be given not out? That ball was crashing into the leg stump." But because the middle of the ball was just marginally, one millimetre, to the right of centre of the stump, then the umpire's decision wasn't reversed.
"So what we have done really is just made that margin of uncertainty slightly bigger. Now the middle of the ball must be in line with the stump, which means half of the ball hitting the stump is going to be given out in the future. That is the simple change."
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo