I believe that, if we get rid of the howler, the rest of the problems will take care of themselves
Fifteenth Century philosopher Marsilio Ficino may well have been speaking about the Decision Review System when he said; “In these times I don’t, in a manner of speaking, know what I want; perhaps I don’t want what I know and want what I don’t know.”
The DRS system is not working as it was designed to do and is making the game look clumsy and making the umpires look foolish.
It was brought in to rid the game of the ‘howler’, but it has not achieved that.
Before it was brought in, the International Cricket Council did a survey of umpires and decision-making and found that the umpires were correct 93% of the time; 7% of players may have been unhappy, but that is a pretty good result.
In 223 innings in International cricket, I was only given out twice when I was not out and twice given not out when I was. If you overlook the claims of bowlers, who thought I was out LBW and given not out, it speaks highly of the standard of umpiring. I would venture to say that most players who have played for any length of time would have similar stories.
If we want to be sure to get rid of the obvious gaffe, we have to change the current system.
As it stands, once the teams have used up their two appeals, there is no way for a bad decision to be reversed.
One suggestion has been that if a review is inconclusive and goes back to the umpire’s call, the team should not lose its appeal. I don’t mind that suggestion, but on its own it won’t be enough.
I would like to see a mechanism introduced where the third umpire can interject if a howler has been made, no matter if all the team reviews have been used.
If we are serious about getting rid of the howler then let’s focus on that. Stop trying to get everything correct to the nth degree until the technology can achieve it without the lengthy delays that we have now.
The next problem to be addressed is that of respect for the umpires.
I was brought up to accept that the umpire’s decision is final. It wasn’t always easy, but it was character building.
Now we have a generation of players who are trained to question every decision and then throw a tantrum if they don’t like it.
I don’t think this is a good look for the game or for the individuals concerned. It certainly isn’t good for the umpires.
Since the introduction of the DRS, umpires have lost control of their destiny and much of their self-respect. Umpires will leave the game if they continue to be humiliated by a flawed system. I wouldn’t want to stand in the middle for six hours a day for five days just to count the number of balls and to refer decisions to the Third Umpire.
Off the field, the umpires must be given more training with the technology. Having spent time with video replay experts some years ago, it is obvious that it is a skill that takes time to master. If we want the technology to improve the outcomes, then we need experts to manage it.
My next concern is that the current system is inequitable. The openers can use both appeals and leave the rest of the batting order with no recourse to the technology. That is not fair.
I would not like to be batting at No. 4 under this system. It might be that a review was never available by the time one got to the wicket.
A fairer system would include the potential to confirm all decisions, but it has to be much simpler.
The infinitesimal nick onto the pad or the feather behind should just be an umpire’s call. This will restore some of the equity and might even restore some faith in and respect for the umpire.
In this way, the inordinate time wasting that goes on while we wait for a decision will be reduced and the players might learn to accept that some decisions will go against them.
I have never seen a series won or lost on the umpire’s competence. In every instance in which I was involved, the better team won the series.
One close call going against you should not be the end of the world. My experience is that they tend to even out over time.
I believe that, if we get rid of the howler, the rest of the problems will take care of themselves.
More importantly, the umpires will be standing on stronger ground.