Debate continues over cricket Decision Review System

Just as football gears up for a new season that will feature technology to judge disputed goal/not a goal decisions, heated discussion has been going on in the cricket world over whether video referrals are affecting how the game is played and umpired. With the second Ashes Test between England and Australia now underway, fallout from the first match in the series is still making itself felt.

The cause of contention over the Decision Review System (DRS), which uses a combination of the HawkEye ball-tracking and Hot Spot infra-red imaging systems to judge whether a batsman hit a ball or if he would have been bowled out, was an incident involving England’s Stuart Broad.

The Australian players were convinced the batsman had clipped a delivery from bowler Ashton Agar, which was caught by team captain Michael Clarke. Broad stood his ground and umpire Aleem Dar ruled he was not out, even though TV pictures showed that he was. But because Australia had used both its allotted reviews for the innings Clarke could not ask for the third umpire to adjudicate using the DRS, so the decision stood. England went on to win the game narrowly.

Since then arguments have raged over whether Broad should have been true to the spirit of the game and walked and if technology is taking the big decisions away from the on-pitch umpires. The biggest criticism of the DRS seems to be more how it is applied – by both officials and team captains – rather than any technological failings.

In a review of the First Test, the ICC (International Cricket Council), which introduced DRS for Test series in 2009, found that the technology led to only one incorrect decision. This was when Dar was overruled by third umpire Marais Erasmus, who judged that England’s Jonathan Trott was out lbw when he wasn’t. This mistake was apparently caused by Hot Spot not working at the time.

The ICC report also found that the umpires made a total of 72 decisions, calling that “well above the average (49) for a DRS Test match”. The officials were considered to have made seven errors during the match; three of these were uncorrected but four were corrected using the DRS. This means the percentage of correct decisions rose from 90.3 to 95.8 through the use of the DRS.

ICC chief executive David Richardson comments: “While the ICC has complete faith in the ability of its umpires, our confidence in technology is also strengthened by the fact that there was an increase in the number of correct decisions in the Trent Bridge Test through the use of the DRS.”

The Broad incident has focused attention on the Snickometer, an audio-based system used by broadcasters that can determine if a ball has hit the bat. It is not currently part of the DRS as it takes too long for decisions to be made but the developers are reportedly working on a new version that is faster.

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