Cricket and technology: A solution to the DRS debacle

Cricket is not tennis and the DRS in it’s current incarnation has brought the game of cricket into more disrepute than any on or off-field act.

Here is a blueprint for DRS 3.0

1. Automatically review every OUT decision.
The challenge system is a sham for the game of cricket with a batsman losing his wicket a dramatic and critical moment in the game. It is not tennis with a line call deciding 1 point in a game. It is 1 out of 40 fatal decisions over the course of 5 days and needs to be taken more seriously.  Every single time a batsman is given OUT by the umpire, the third umpire automatically checks for NO BALL and that the the other assumptions of a fall of wicket are met. i.e. Catches carry, edges were hit, lbw meets criteria… etc.

2. Doubt benefits batter not umpire
A batsman should only be given out if there is consensus. There is no question of 3rd umpire overturning the umpire on the field, they MUST agree.

3. Integrate third umpire into the decision making process.
With the current and future state of technology, the third umpire has as good and in some circumstances, perhaps a better view of the play. Rather than on-field umpire referring decisions, the 3rd umpire should be involved in every decision. I would even suggest that the 3rd umpire becomes the 2nd umpire with the square leg umpire made redundant. Rotate the 2 umpires every session or drinks break. When the technology fails, fall back to the standard 2 on-field umpire system that relies on eyeballs and human judgement. 

4. Unlimited fielding team reviews with time-wasting and/or dissent penalties for misuse.
The bane of international cricket is incorrect decisions. Allowing incorrect decisions to stand because of exhausted challenges is not improving anything. The genie won’t go back in the lamp. Focus on speeding up the review process (see #3) and when all else fails, the fielding captain can demand a review. Frivolous reviews should be met with stern punishment in line with current sanctions for dissent, time wasting or slow over rates.

5. Technology is not perfect, neither are humans, do not multiply errors.
The 2 most contentious decisions (as seen in all their glory in this ashes series) in cricket are LBW and ultra-fine edges to the keeper. Having different rules for the human version of an LBW and the video review is unfathomable. To put it simply, HawkEye has a measurable margin of error, if the ball will hit the stumps within that margin…then the ball is hitting the stumps! The centre of the ball is a valid reference only when determining where the ball pitches since the centre line is in fact the first place to hit the pitch and I believe would be a better option than the tennis-style impact zone. 

Secondly, hotspot seems to miss edges that make a sound but do not leave enough of a thermal footprint to show up. Does this mean that the bat didn’t actually make contact with the ball? Can you make a sound without impact? Absolutely. If you had a microphone array you might be able place the source of the nick in 3D space, but even then the nick might just be a result of the compression of air between bat and ball with there still being a microscopic gap between them! Should we rely solely on hotspot? I am sure it would only be a matter of time before someone creates a thermally inert material to cover bats with but still, fundamentally sound is less reliable than hotspot and should not be enough evidence to convict a batsman to the shed.


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