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Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Review, Reviewed.

The anti-technology brigade hasn't exactly quietened down, but the vociferousness in their voices seem to be missing after seeing the first display of cricket's 'review system' in the 1st Test between India and Sri Lanka at Colombo. Yes, they are picking out the holes - the Dilshan dismissal being their strongest case. Dileep Premchandran writes in his piece titled 'Bugs in the system' - "As Benson signalled for the replay, all eyes turned to the TV screens. Replay followed replay, yet no one could be absolutely sure whether there had been the thinnest of edges, or if the sound heard was merely bat striking ground. The technology that's often used by broadcasters in such situations, the Snickometer, wasn't employed because doubts remain about its efficacy, while Hotspot, used by Channel Nine during the last Ashes series, has yet to be officially tested for accuracy. With Rudi Koertzen, the third umpire, as undecided as anyone watching, Benson, who had no access to the replays, had little option but to change the decision." (cricinfo)

Sirs, what about the Tendulkar decision and the Dravid one? Unlike the Dilshan case, where one cannot be absolutely sure one way or the other, here are two cases where two wrongs (beyond any realm of doubt) were righted with the aid of technology. If we look at the Sehwag decision, it was more a situation of a human error by the 3rd umpire than any technological glitch.

Slow-motion replays, the wicket-to-wicket “mat”, sound from stump microphones and ball-tracking technology up to the point of impact on the pad will be available for use by the television umpire. ( source: The Hindu, Chennai)

Rudi Koertzen, the 3rd umpire was to make a decision based only on 'that part of the ball's trajectory till it hit Sehwag's pads'. If Koertzen wasn't able to spot the ball touching Sehwag's pads, well, technology can't be blamed for it, can it. And would you still want Rudi to be deciding on far more complex decisions with his naked eye, in the middle. ( He will be in the middle for the next two India-Lanka tests, so beware, in advance)

I have always held that umpires across the world are too defensive in their approach, and the bowlers pay a huge price for it. Here i don't blame the umpires though because what we are expecting of them is super-human whereas the fact is they are only humans. If the review system wins its battle against this influential anti-technology brigade, expect a plummeting of batting averages across the world. Batsmen will now be essentially very, very vulnerable in their first twenty or thirty minutes of stay at the crease, when I think, over the years, a huge number of lbw decisions that should have gone the bowler's way didn't. Spinners should hugely benefit from this - and one person who would today be ruing the review format more than anyone else might actually turn out to be the single biggest beneficiary of this system across the world - he is Anil Kumble. He will have a tough time reining in Bhajji from over-using the review, though!

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