In spite of all the criticism and controversies, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has decided tocontinue with the inconclusive Decision Review System (DRS) that is currently in place to aid umpires following a recent meeting. On the contrary, they have decided to make the use of the DRS more powerful. And so, starting next month, reviews will be reset after 80 overs of an innings in a Test. As of now, teams are allowed only two reviews per innings. However, as per the new system, teams will have two reviews remaining after completing 80 overs in an innings notwithstanding the number of reviews they have used up till then.
The question that arises following this latest development is simple. Will the choice prove beneficial to Test cricket? Will more number of reviews mean more correct decisions? If the history of DRS is anything to go by, it will be difficult to conclude the same. During The Ashes itself there were a number of instances wherein the technology led to wrong decisions being given. Stuart Broad survived in one Test in spite of the fact that everyone but the umpires could figure out that he was out. Conversely, Usman Khawaja was ‘dismissed’ in another Test even after it was very clear that he was not out.
The conclusion one arrives at from the above examples is that the number of reviews doesn’tgreater success of the technology. And thus, ICC’s review of the DRS, following which they have decided to reset the reviews after the conclusion of 80 overs of a Test innings, will not guarantee better results. The problem is actually that the technology in place is not completely foolproof. Hence, the numbers of goof-ups that are taking place are understandable. The rules in place also do not always aid the umpires in giving the right decision. For example, a third umpire cannot reserve a decision if he asked to review an lbw decision, but finds out that the batsman is actually out caught.
Conversely, the move might even end up delivering good results. A review after all depends on the kind of evidence available. For some reviews, the DRS might have conclusive evidence, for others it may not. Thus, having more reviews in Tests will end up being a case of hit and flops or, in others words, luck will play a highly significant factor. Accordingly, on some days, the DRS will provide excellent decisions and, on other days, it will deliver howlers like seen in The Ashes which concluded some time back. The change will thus not always work for the better.
One big minus point could be the time factor. As it is, there is an amount of time consumed in reviews as players first discuss a decision and then take a final call on whether to go for the review or not. This slows down the game considerably. And with ICC’s new rules in place for the DRS, it will mean more reviews and consequently more time being consumed. It would be unfair to determine how well or badly the system works unless we view the results practically. It is thus better to adopt a wait-and-watch policy.
--By A Cricket Analyst