A well known saying goes ‘the only thing permanent is change.’ It holds true for many things including cricket. The game has undergone its fair share of tweaks and transformations, with some more successful than others. Two of the innovations that have been received acceptance into the gentleman’s game are the ‘Free hit’ and the ‘Review’.
Before one delves into that however, one needs to understand that new ideas and change have always been a part of cricket and have benefitted the game as well.
Originating in England around the 17th century, cricket matches were played over a five day period. The sport later branched out to the limited overs form of the game that started with 60 overs allotted to each side before being reduced to the now standard 50 overs per innings.
The latest addition to the world of cricket has been the T20 format. Each change adapted the game to the modern day and age helping the sport both maintain its current fan base and make it more accessible to a global audience.
A sport that has never shied away from the use of technology, but rather whole heartedly accepted and incorporated it into the game has reaped the rewards.
The latest innovation to receive acceptance is the ‘Review’. This is where a decision can be contested by referring it to the third umpire if either the batting or the bowling side is convinced the on-field decision is incorrect.
The review adds a sense of fairness and removes from the player’s mind the feeling of being ‘hard done’ by the umpires when a decision does not go their way. It has been useful in correcting some decisions that had originally gone the wrong way and made matches, which would otherwise have been embroiled in controversy, into just affairs.
Pakistan’s Captain Shahid Afridi seemed to be a fan of the ‘review’ as his side used it more than any other in the ICC World Cup 2011 and even had a fair share of originally incorrect decisions reversed.
Sachin Tendulkar found himself grateful of its existence when he had originally been given out in the semi-final of the World Cup against bitter rivals Pakistan at Mohali, only to have the decision overruled when it was referred to the third umpire for the review.
Some would argue that it undermines the ability of the umpires to have their decision challenged yet with the amount of reviews restricted to two for each side, it is employed sparingly enough for that not to happen.
At the same time it helps make the game fair and assists in ruling out the factor of human error that has hampered and plagued games in the past. No team would like to lose to a mistake on the part of the umpire, while no umpire would like his mistake to cost a team a win.
The review system seems to have little effect on the best umpire’s in the modern game with the ICC World Umpire of the Year, Asad Rauf yet to have an on-field decision changed.
Ultimately it seems that the review system is helping the game and even adds an extra dimension of tension for the crowd who watch anxiously as the third umpire goes through the decision.
It seems that on the basis of merit, the review is here to stay and that is good news for cricket.