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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

UDRS: Boon or Bane to cricket....

BCCI and Captain MS Dhoni always opposed the UDRS (Umpire Decision Review System) ever since ICC started using it in International Cricket.  BCCI found  that technology used for UDRS is costly which sounds bit funny because BCCI is the richest cricket administrative body in the world. Indian captain Dhoni found it inadequate to tackle with the demands of International Cricket and he is right too an extent because when they got the chance of using it in the test series against Sri Lanka they got it all wrong and only 1 decision out of 22 went in their favour. So apprehensions are appropriate but now ICC made it mandatory in the 10th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup.
For the first time at a World Cup, each team has the right to question at least two decisions which go against it during an innings.A third umpire uses the available technology to determine if the on-field officials were correct. But it has not been an easy debut for DRS in the showpiece event.The Indian Cricket Board, infuriated by Ian Bell's apparent let-off for lbw in the tied India v England match, wrote an angry letter to ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat pointing out the inadequacy it perceives in the system.
The statistics will calm the nerves a bit for the ICC, which revealed that correct decisions in the World Cup have risen from an average of 90.18 per cent to 97.82 per cent due to the DRS."It is a fact that the number of (appealed) decisions in this event is way above the normal average for ODIs," ICC general manager Dave Richardson said in the statement."This is because of the type of wickets that prevail in the sub-continent where the bounce is often lower and where there is a greater amount of turn."
This UDRS also suffered due to lack of 'Hot Spot' technology which was used in the series in Ashes and ODI series between England and Australia. Now what is 'Hot Spot' technology? Hot Spot is an infra-red imaging system used in cricket to determine whether the ball has struck the batsman, bat or pad. Hot Spot requires two infrared cameras on opposite sides of the ground above the field of play that are continuously recording an image. Any suspected snick or bat/pad event can be verified by examining the infrared image, which usually shows a bright spot where contact friction from the ball has elevated the local temperature. Where referrals to an off-field third umpire are permitted, the technology is used to enhance the on-field umpire's decision making accurancy. Hot-spot imagery is also used to show which part of the cricket bat hit the ball, as ideally the batsmen try to "middle" the ball i.e. hit it where the sweet spot lies. Hot spot camera provides some valuable information while analyzing the strokes played by a batsman.
The Australian-based company who owns 'Hot Spot' have said they will not be able to provide the service. They have not said why, but apparently they need special dispensation from the Australian Defence Force to use it. This stuff is military technology. I also suspect due to the late decision to use it and the logistical nightmare it would be to set up the cameras, they've decided it's just too hard to lug it around. I also suspect the ADF may be concerned about the security situation in India particularly and someone else may get their hands on the technology who the ADF doesn't want to and thats where UDRS failed too an extent. However without hot-spot also UDRS is used somewhat effectively in the World Cup but it certainly raised eyebrows of many captains and coaches. 
In a match against Australia, Kamran Akmal was found in front of the stumps twice. First umpire given him not-out and when Australians reviewed,  found that ball was hitting leg-stump, so on-field umpire stuck to his decision. Second time when Kamran Akmal found in front of the stumps umpire given him out and Kamran Akmal reviewed its and found that this time also ball was hitting leg stump but on-field umpire stuck to his decision and ruled Akmal out. In this instance both the times ball hit the leg stump but first time given not-out because appealing team reviewed it so it went against them because they challenged the on-field umpire and second time given out but because batsmen reviewed it and he also challenged the on-field umpire's decision. So this technology is partly depends on the discretion of on-field umpire as well. Moreover this UDRS failed completely in detecting edges of the bat and in that case batsmen are getting benefit of doubt. Ashoka DeSilva, the Sri Lankan umpire became first victim of UDRS as his decision were found wrong on most occasions when reviewed. Hence he was removed from the umpiring in important matches of the World Cup.
I think if UDRS have to be used then it should be used with 'Hot Spot' and 'Snickometer' technology as well. Otherwise UDRS will not going to succeed much and lot questions will be raised on its accuracy.

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