To DRS or not to DRS, that is the question?


“ICC makes DRS optional” – read the news headline in the “Times Of India” today. As I read through the article sitting in the front porch, I asked myself –

Is making DRS (Decision Review System) in its current form mandatory on not mandatory REALLY the question?

As cricket enthusiasts would know, the DRS (Decision Review System) was first instituted bilaterally in 2008 with the ball tracker and a clear sound mike included as the basic requirements. The DRS was  implemented allowing the two competing teams a total of 2 unsuccessful reviews each for every innings to challenge the umpire’s decision. A fielding team may use the system to dispute a “not out” call and a batting team may do so to dispute an “out” call.

 For the past 3 years, it’s attracted controversies on many occasions – with some of the cricket boards showing apprehension on its accuracy. Yesterday, ICC’s  executive board reversed its decision to make the DRS mandatory in Tests and ODIs. The reversal comes within three months of the agreement reached by ICC’s executive board at the annual conference in Hong Kong in June.

In this seemingly see-saw battle of making DRS mandatory or not based on technology considerations, I wonder if we are loosing track of the basic intention behind using DRS.

Let’s pause for a moment, and ask ourselves the question – What is the basic intention behind introducing the DRS?

“Ah… that’s simple. To improve the quality of the decisions,  of course” – I am sure, that’s what you are saying.

Well, if that is so, here are few things to ponder about

  • Why should we have it limited to only 2 unsuccessful decision reviews per team?
    • If the intention is to improve the decisions , then should we not have the provision to refer any decision that involves the slightest doubt to the review system. Why restrict the usage?
  •  Are we not supposed to be wanting to have correct decisions after 2 unsuccessful tries by one of the competing teams
In all this hoopla of the accuracy of technology, the basic implementation rules and the premise on which we use the DRS has taken a back seat…

“Ok, so maybe the implementation rules need to be looked at? But the basic issue is that the technology that DRS uses is not accurate, and hence the need for reversal… – you may be thinking…

Accuracy of the technology that DRS uses has always been under question. When DRS came into existence in 2008, the basic requirement included the ball tracker and a sound mike – hence, LBWs were included in the review system. With mandatory DRS for the last 3 months, LBWs were omitted since ball tracker was no longer mandatory. However, HOT SPOT was included.

The HOT SPOT – considered very reliable, was found wanting on several occasions during the recent India-England seriesRahul Dravid himself falling prey to the inconsistencies on more than one occasion.

“So, there’s no future for DRS, is it?

In the words of Mr. Lorgat (ICC Chief Executive) – “We do get the benefit of more correct decisions and we can rectify blatant errors, so there is a use for DRS. “

I agree. I think there is future for DRS… Obviously, the technology needs to be revisited and fine tuned.

In the near term, in addition to reviewing the implementation rules (as stated above), I believe that the basic need is for us to eliminate “Howlers” – the real bad decisions – the inside edges that are given LBW, the ball pitching outside LEG and given LBW and the likes… these can be easily eliminated with the technology available. Hopefully, the cricketing fraternity will be happy if we can eliminate howlers. For the real close ones, it is OK to give the batsman the “benefit of doubt” as has been happening since ages.

It’s a batsman’s game, after all!

If we can eliminate howlers, and fine tune the implementation rules, To DRS or not to DRS will no longer be a question – not in the near term, at least…

What do you think???

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2 thoughts on “To DRS or not to DRS, that is the question?

  1. the idea of 2 unsuccessful reviews is good to keep the time factor and accountability – a batsman like Sehwag doesn’t think twice to appeal if he wants to bat. Who knows every decision might go for review if it is unlimited..its free afterall..

  2. Well, I wonder if it should be left to the player’s at all.. should it not be a referral system given to the umpires to verify decisions – similar to the Run Outs that we have today…. you will get most of the decisions correct, because if the umpire is in doubt, he would refer… some straight forward ones, need not be referred… Its a paradigm shift from being a review system to a referral system though…

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