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Ask TMC: DRS – yay or nay?

Well, with the fourth Ashes Test approaching fast, the question remains about the existence and implementation of the Umpire Decision Review System, or DRS for short. To those who have not been aware, perhaps because they’ve been living under a rock or on a month’s touring holiday in rural Mongolia, the DRS has been causing a great deal of controversy as not only has it failed to overturn incorrect decisions, but it has brought those incorrect decisions into a harsher and less forgiving spotlight. I thought I’d see what my fellow Third Man Cricket writers thought about the whole thing.

Astrid Lee – YAY

I am in favour of DRS. Cricket is a game based on old fashioned sportsmanship and many of the laws and traditions are still old fashioned. DRS is one way for cricket to adapt and thrive in the modern world. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Lately there have been referred decisions where the outcome has blatantly been wrong. This is unacceptable. While it’s up to a team and their captain to learn to use the system, it is also a fair and reasonable expectation that umpires reviewing will make the right call. My suggestion would be that third umpires who make wrong decisions should be placed onto an iceberg and floated out to sea. Especially when it’s the Ashes at stake.

Jeff Snowden – YAY (but not in its current form)

As for DRS, I think it’s here to stay and I actually think the technology is reasonable and does a reasonable job, not perfect by any means, but not as bad as it’s being made to look. I think the use of it by the Third Umpire has been village at best. Personally, I don’t like this idea of reviews from players, be it cricket or tennis. It teaches people to not accept a decision, something I was always taught as the most important part of playing sport when I was younger. If it is to stop the howlers then you can’t say a team has had two reviews and therefore the third time the howler stands because they’ve used the reviews! If it’s to stop the howlers then stop them. In that scenario it’s therefore down to the umpires to use it as they see fit.

John Woodbridge – YAY (out of the players’ hands)

I’m in favour of using technology to obtain the correct decision. I think it should be a tool for umpires to use in their decision making in the same way as they use it for run outs, stumpings and to see if a fielder has taken a clean catch. It baffles me that this inconsistency exists and whoever thought of introducing challenges (sorry “referrals”) is a muppet. I do not think putting it in the hands of players is a good idea because it undermines the ethos that the umpire’s decision is final. Allowing players to question that authority on the field only breeds distrust, and let’s face it no batsmen ever thinks they’re out and no bowler ever thinks it’s not out when it’s a line ball decision. If someone thinks a decision has gone against them they wouldn’t need to challenge it if they knew all available technology had been used to come to the correct decision. As for the time “wasted” in coming to a correct decision, I’d argue far more time is wasted with drinks being run on and off the field, players (well bowlers) heading off for “treatment” and other nonsense that now goes on. A little extra time to know a decision is correct is a tiny price to pay

Martin Jones – NAY, in its current form

Personally, I used to be a fan of DRS. I used to like the fact that it would bring a greater amount of correct decisions because as a club cricketer I can sympathise all too well with the feeling of receiving an umpiring howler. Although it is far rarer that a Test batsman will be given out LBW after bottom edging a pull shot onto their hip, the consequences of being given out incorrectly are, for them, much greater. However, what we have seen in these Ashes is a system that has been shown to be flawed and ineffective. For something that was brought in to eliminate the howler and increase the sporting theatre, we have seen Usman Khawaja’s caught behind decision standing, and the crowds being puzzled when a ball that is cannoning a stump clean out of the ground according to HawkEye is given as Umpire’s Call. I believe that there is a place for DRS in the future, but it has to be significantly reworked, and there need to be specialist trained umpires who are competent. Until then, it must be put on hold.

Nigel Armitage – YAY

Well, it is an absolute yes from me.  It is needed and here to stay and the sooner the BCCI get off their high horses and join the real world, then the better the Test Match game will be.  No question there are some issues and problems with the umpires’ interpretation and it is pretty clear Hotspot is not up to scratch, but all is needed is to slightly adjust the guidelines and the problems will resolve.  I would like to see ‘Snicko’ used instead of (or even alongside) Hotspot, but apparently they cannot get the ‘Snicko’ results quick enough for the umpires’ review.  Once that is improved, I believe that is the way to go.  All that said, I just think the drama of a review is pure theater and top entertainment.  Ask anyone who is at a Test match and to a man, the most exciting part of the day, is when a decision goes to review and you watch it unfold on the big screen.  Just listen to the crowd roar, even when one of the captains or batsmen just ask for a review..!  Great stuff and long may it live and prosper.

Nikhil Puri – NAY

DRS stands for Decision Review System, and clearly, included in this system, are the umpires themselves making the decisions. At the moment, the umpires are making glaring errors, but the system of making decisions is not very logical. Further, as I have stated time and time again, the technology itself is not accurate; Hot Spot, for example, has proven itself to be a very shoddy and inaccurate technology at best. All these stats talking about umpires getting it wrong 10% of the time and DRS getting it wrong 5% of the time or whatever are fallacies in and of themselves, because you’re comparing an umpire’s decision against a computer’s decision, where the computer is making a prediction without having much cricketing knowledge.

Sean Wilson – YAY

Yay. Even with the 3rd umpires making the odd shocking decision, at worst, they are not overturning the original decisions that were incorrect. Occasionally, they are overturning decisions that were originally incorrect. Therefore, the game’s adjudication is still better off than it was when we just went with the original decision. However, the working system is far from perfect. Firstly, if it’s there to try and ‘eliminate the howler’, then the teams shouldn’t be allowed to have 2 incorrect reviews per innings. Give them only 1 review per innings, and they’ll be far less trigger happy with the T-sign. Another thing that could well be improved is the burden of proof that a 3rd umpire needs to overturn a caught behind decision that was given out – more of a ‘balance of probabilities’ approach is probably more suited for DRS purposes rather than a ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ one.

Umair Dar – YAY

DRS allows both teams to eliminate clear howlers and thereby increase the proportion of correct decisions made in a game. This has been statistically proven by the ICC. The issue comes from the fact that some captains and players have not understood how to use the system. I am in favour of some tweaks to the system including reviews not counting if they fall under the ‘umpires call’ category. Also, I am pro use of Snicko. I think ultimately (in the perhaps not that distant future, say 10-15 years) umpires should have direct, real-time access to HawkEye, hotspot and Snicko on the field. This would allow them to make all decisions based on best available technology, and also improve the flow of the game.
Clearly, that is a yes from Third Man. However, many of the writers consider that the current system, with player reviews, is not workable. It is also a very emotive subject, with many of the responses elicited being so detailed and passionate that I had to be quite enthusiastic with the pruning shears. Many thanks to all those who responded, please feel free to let us know your views in the comments below.

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