Recent incidents in the Ashes series over the use of technology have once again put the controversial Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) in a situation where its integrity is being questioned.
Australia’s Usman Khawaja was given caught behind off Graeme Swan and he went upstairs for review, though the hot-spot found that there was no contact made between the bat and the ball, but Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena found the evidence insufficient to overrule his colleague’s decision. Usman Khawaja had to leave, but he left with a question – should UDRS be removed from cricket?
Former Pakistan captain Rashid Latif has already termed it controversial and incompetent. According to Latif, ICC should stop using UDRSunless it is, at least, declared 99% error free.
But, David Richardson – ICC’s Chief Executive Officer and a former South African cricketer himself – believes that UDRS is here to stay. He agrees that it may not be 100% error free, but it has minimized the number of incorrect decisions by on-field umpires.
Umpire’s decision review system was introduced to minimize errors and to help the on-field umpires in reaching conclusions in circumstances where evidences were not enough gathered with the naked eye. Ironically, the rule says, if the original decision is not 100% correct or evidence is inconclusive, then the decision of the on-field umpire will stand, even if it may be wrong. This is exactly what happened withUsman Khawaja in the third Ashes Test, which prompted Cricket Australia to question ICC and demand justification on umpire’s decision.
One wonders, if technology was introduced to minimize incorrect decisions, then why on incomplete evidences, a wrong or “half-wrong” decision can’t be overruled? If TV umpire feels that his colleague in the middle has made an incorrect decision – even if a close call – then he should have get rule against it.
There are also talks about specially trained TV umpires who are technology experts, as TV umpiring is now not limited to check if a batsman was in or out. It is understood that ICC is also considering to arrange some technology training for umpires.
Some are also complaining about limited reviews given to the teams especially in high-intensity matches, where there are more chances of players going upstairs for reviews. Australia could have forced Stuart Broad to walk away in the first Test had they got more reviews left, but one might argue that their captain didn’t use their reviews intelligently but that is a different case altogether.
ICC is also considering to give teams more than two failed decision referrals per innings on pattern of Tennis where additional reviews are given for tie-breakers. There is a possibility that additional reviews might be given to teams after 80 overs are bowled in an innings.
All said and done, the controversies surrounding the already-controversial Umpire’s Decision Review System is causing unending embarrassment for the International Cricket Council and they need to seriously think about taking steps to make it error-free and appointing umpires who are technology-friendly rather than believe in saving their colleagues from embarrassment.