Earlier in the week,the ICC,after taking stock of the games playing conditions,spoke about setting a working group that would look into various aspects of the much-debated Decision Review System (DRS). The considerations of the group will be wide ranging and include a review of the objectives and philosophies of using technology,the technologies,protocols and procedures as well as the role and training of television umpires, the games governing body said.
Among the various discussions that got triggered after this latest tweaking of the rules,most have concentrated on futility of the additional reviews or the optimism over the effort to improve the technological aids. Two extra reviews after 80 overs is cosmetic,they say while insisting that real-time Snickometer will go a long way in hiding Hot Spots faults.
But the less-talked about big step towards finding a near-perfect umpiring system happens to be the ICCs promise to re-assess the DRS protocols and procedures. During the Ashes,it was felt that it was the implementation of DRS,and not the inadequacy of technology,that was responsible for most howlers.
The most farcical umpiring faux pas happened in the first Test at Trent Bridge when Stuart Broad got a reprieve even when everyone at the ground,including the third umpire,knew that he had hit,the ball into the hands of the slip fielder. But since the third umpire didnt have a voice of his own,he couldnt shout it out to the field umpire on the walkie talkie. With the Aussies having exhausted their reviews,they were helpless,after being livid.
So will these additional reviews or better technology help in eliminating Trent Bridge-like scenario? Not really. Reviews can still get exhausted,and even with existing technology it was obvious Broad had been dismissed. To avoid a repeat farce,the ICC working group needs to empower the third umpire. He has been given better eyes and ears; what he now desperately need is a voice.
(Shamik is a principal correspondent based in Kolkata.)