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    August 12, 2008

    Tinkering with the review system

    The newly introduced review system whereby players can seek reviews of on-field umpiring decisions has just completed one trial run. I'm fairly sure that this isn't the only trial run it will go through. I wouldn't be surprised if it was also used for the India-Australia series later this year, if not for some other series held earlier.

    I still believe this is a good thing, as long as the ICC also does something to improve umpiring standards based on the data available on number of decisions changed for each umpire over the course of, say, a year.

    In addition to reducing, not removing altogether, obviously wrong decisions handed out to bowlers and batsmen, I believe that the review system will result in batsmen using their bats more than pads, against spinners and slower bowlers, especially. In the Sri Lanka v India series that ended yesterday with a walloping for India, there were 16 lbw decisions given favouring Murali & Mendis, across 6 innings. The corresponding number for Sri Lanka (effectively only 4 innings since they declared at 6 down once and won with 8 wickets to spare yesterday) against Kumble & Harbhajan was 7.

    I interpret the numbers to arrive at two decisions:
    1. Murali & Mendis were far more accurate than Kumble & Harbhajan. This is also reinforced by the fact that India's spinners only dismissed one Sri Lankan batsman bowled, while Sri Lanka's spinners dismissed 7 Indian batsmen bowled.
    2. Sri Lanka's batsmen used the pad more effectively (not necessarily lesser) than India's batsmen. In addition, India's batsmen did not figure out that the TV umpire was more inclined to ruling in favour of bowlers when batsmen didn't attempt to (or make a show of) using bat instead of pad. As a result, we had the spectacle in India's 2nd innings at the P Saravanamuttu stadium (3rd test) where Tendulkar was nearly given out lbw twice in a row when facing Muralitharan and the TV umpire ruled in his favour. Next over, he padded up to Mendis and was sent packing by the on-field umpire and by the TV umpire, when it was referred on Tendulkar's appeal for a review.
    I'm going to stick with my earlier stand that there should be no limit on the number of reviews that a team can ask. But, there's an additional caveat. We've seen that captains (or batsmen) take a long time to ask for the review. So, the review must be asked for within a time limit of (say) 10 seconds after the ball has gone dead (i.e. from the moment the on-field umpire gave the original decision). The TV umpire must also be given a fixed time limit, of say 3 minutes, within which he should use the available evidence to arrive at a decision. If he is unable to do so, the on-field umpire's decision should stand.

    One possible deterrent to players taking their own sweet time to ask for the review is to include the time taken to make that decision while calculating their over-rate while bowling and enforce the appropriate penalty. The other option is for the ICC to slowly increase the minimum over-rate limit, to say 17 an hour and then eventually end at 20 an hour.

    The one aspect that the ICC needs to ensure is to make available more technology (and camera angles) to the TV umpire to ensure he gets the decision right, without wasting too much time. If that means using other gadgets (Snickometer, HotSpot, etc.), then they ought to make sure that happens. The inconsistency in decisions needs to be reduced removed. Some common sense is needed as well. If a batsman has been struck on the pad, and the point of impact is nearly 3m from the stumps, it is very tough to accurately determine that the ball will go on to hit the wicket, even if it pitched in line and the impact was in line with the stumps (Ganguly being given out lbw to Murali in the 2nd innings of the 3rd test).

    The Indian team may possibly have the feeling that the review system hasn't really resulted in a decrease in the number of decisions going against them. It is in a trial phase. If the ICC does decide that the system is going to stay for the next few years at least, it makes sense to do more trials and then set the the benchmarks. It'd be stupid for the BCCI to now complain about the system, since the major trigger for this system being introduced was the horrible umpiring at Sydney 2008. For starters, if the Indian batsmen used bat more often than pad, they'd get out lbw a lot less often. To paraphrase King Cricket from his superb post last year when Pietersen was given out to a slip catch that didn't look too clean, the main problem was that the Indian batsmen played with pad. As a batsman, if you use pad rather than bat to spinners bowling accurately, there’s a fair chance you’re going to be out lbw.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 1:57 pm |
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    2 sledge(s):

    i have to agree that the number of reviews cannot be limited to three or any number for that matter.

    also, i am not for the review system to exist. instead of testing the review system and icc trying to reduce/remove bad decisions, i think they have an easy solution on hand - just allow the third umpire to intervene even without a call from the onfield umpires, so that ridiculous no-balls, obvious bat-pad lbws, huge nicks to the keeper, 5/7-ball overs are caught. even almost invisible mistakes like dravid's dismissal (when the ball touched the fielder's helmet) in the first test can be avoided.

    probably much more, which don't come to my mind right now.

    if we are going to make use of technology, it should be allowed to intervene whenever the onfield umpires are incorrect, not just when they are unsure.

    By Blogger Ganesh (12 Aug 2008, 5:04:00 pm)  

    Allowing the third umpire to intervene is a good idea. The number of such interventions can also be used to assess an umpire.

    Deciding on whether a bouncer went above shoulder height at normal batting position, if the fielder managed to cut off the ball before it/he touched the rope, if the fielding side is adhering to the fielder count limitations (2 behind the batsman on the legside, number of those in the circle, etc.) are some other situations which the TV umpire can intervene in.

    By Blogger Jagadish (12 Aug 2008, 6:14:00 pm)  

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