The Decision Review System was brought into cricket to remove the howler. While it may have done that a time or two, its main purpose now is tactical and it is having too much of a bearing on the outcome of games. Cricket is overseen by umpires both on the field and sitting in the stands. It is time we put more faith in them to make the right decision, technology assisted or not.
The first solution is simple. Scrap players being able to use the DRS all together and allow all decisions to be made by the umpires on the field in the first instance. As the player walks off the ground following a dismissal, the third umpire is brought into play and reviews the decision, the legality of the delivery and either reverses the on-field call or the player keeps walking off. Surely in this day and age of technology, we should either be having faith in using it for all decisions, or none at all.
In the AFL, every score is reviewed following its occurrence by an external ‘person’ and if it found that an error has been made, a message is sent down to the on-field officials who then promptly alert the goal umpire to reverse the decision. A prime example of using technology to its full potential.
The current situation of two reviews every eighty overs is madness for Test cricket. Particularly when an LBW decision is sent upstairs and is found to be an ‘umpires call.’ For some strange reason, a team still loses a review for this result, even though had the umpire made the opposite decision, that would have stood as well. That simply is not fair.
The third umpire does very little throughout the game. By giving him the job of reviewing decisions, you bring him into the action and encourage a greater level of concentration for when he does have to make a call. Otherwise, all he is really doing is pressing a few buttons every now and then. You could even go as far as having the third umpire be checking every delivery for a no-ball. Does a batsman really change his shot selection when he sees the arm of an umpire spring out to call a no-ball? In most circumstances, you would have to say that this is unlikely. The on-field umpire can then keep his eye on the delivery and tracking of the ball, which in theory should see him making a better decision.
Careful consideration must be given, in that you cannot have reviews from the third umpire taking ten minutes when a player is walking from the ground. There has to be a fast system that gives the third umpire access to vision immediately after a delivery and hence does not hold the game up too much. The last thing cricket needs is more delays. If you are going to introduce a system such as this, it must be implemented across every form of the game as well for consistency sake, not just in one or two forms. The more it is used, the greater the amount of errors that will hopefully be stamped out.
The other alternative is to remove technology altogether and go back to having the umpires making every decision without being assisted, you know, like the good old days. Technology can aid the game, but it has to either be used consistently and for every scenario or not at all. By using it sporadically, a greater potential for error and interpretation is allowed. By giving the players such a say in when DRS is used, creates far too much room for manipulation. Australian Captain Steve Smith asking the dressing room for help in whether to review a decision or not in the Second Test against India recently is a prime example of this.
If technology is accepted as being corrected and accurate in the game of cricket, it has to be used to its full potential or if there are doubts around its accuracy, it should be scrapped completely. It is as simple as that really. Remove the doubt, remove the player’s influence on the decision and put it back into the hands of the people who are out there and paid to make the calls, the umpires.