A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

The Technology Debate Rumbles On

Posted on May 26, 2011 by in Opinion

Over 18 months after its official introduction and the UDRS is still struggling to silence the doubters. Whilst it has certainly dispatched those heady days in the West Indies, when England first experienced the wonders of the system, into the annals of time, many questions remain unanswered.

There is still a grey area over how sure the TV umpire has to be to overturn the on-field call, as demonstrated by the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara this afternoon. Rod Tucker appears to have based his decision on the fact that there was a sound which probably came from bat hitting ball, because the two were near each other. When you’ve spent millions of pounds developing a review system, that isn’t ideal. It especially isn’t ideal when you’ve explicitly said on a number of occasions that there must be clear evidence to overturn a decision.

Admittedly, the system is getting better. The worry for the ICC is the single biggest improvement they’ve made to the UDRS thus far is removing Daryl Harper from the Elite Panel. Too often they give the impression they’re making the rules up as they go along (an impression almost certainly much too close to the truth). Until Ian Bell’s farcical escape from an LBW decision at the World Cup not once had the ‘2.5 metre’ caveat been mentioned. Unfortunately, no one had bothered to read the 8 page – yes, there really is 8 pages of explanation on how to use it –booklet telling us the rules and restrictions, so no one really knows if they just sneaked that in once they realised they’d made a huge balls-up of the whole thing.

Earlier this year, on his way to a first Ashes hundred, the very same Ian Bell again benefitted from a UDRS mishap when he edged Shane Watson behind. Bell escaped because hotspot failed to show a mark. This was followed by the revelation that batsmen could fool hotspot by covering the edge of their bats with Vaseline. When your multi-million pound technology is outwitted by a small tin of lubricant, it’s probably time to take a look at yourselves.

There is no doubt that the UDRS has improved decision-making over the past year, but there are times when the whole system doesn’t help itself. There are still too many examples of basic errors. Tucker got it right today, but he got lucky, the edge was so small that it could quite easily have gone the other way. If there is no clear evidence, which there certainly wasn’t in this case, a decision surely cannot be overturned. If we go down that route then it is just adding more potential for human error when the whole point of the system is to reduce it.

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