Last night, during the 4th Day of the last Test Match of the India VS England series, I was fortunate enough, thanks to the ICC, to form the opinion that the Decision Review System (DRS) has two or three other modules added to it: AskThePlaya, CheckTheBodyLanguage and SpotTheNervousTwitch.
After Rahul Dravid was given out in the 2nd innings of the England-India Oval Test, social networks went berserk…
After DRSGate, VaselineGate, BellGate, VaughanGate, IndiaNoShowGate, SehwagSelectionGate, HarbhajanInjuryGate, HarbhajanPoorFormGate, ShastriGate, NassGate, GavaskarGate and an assortment of other “gates”, this series had so many entry points that it made the Australia-India 2008 series — which only had a lone, boring and forlorn MonkeyGate — seem like a simple practice run!
Despite these “gates”, India could not escape from jail in this series. The England team continued to “bully” India. The India team continued her bad performance on the tour.
That has been a constant.
Another constant has been the utterly confusing implementation of the DRS.
Let us reconsider what happened in the Rahul Dravid dismissal. The batsman was given “not out” by the on-field umpire. The decision was referred to the 3rd umpire, Steve Davies. The 3rd umpire had the benefit of slow motion replays, an audio feed and HotSpot.
The slow motion replays were inconclusive. HotSpot showed nothing.
At the end of the day’s play, experts, commentators and former players like Sunil Gavaskar, Nasser Hussain, Ravi Shastri and Harsha Bhogle were unhappy. The cynics may have dismissed Shastri and Gavaskar for doing nothing more than ensuring that they earn their breakfast from their employer, BCCI. Yet, there were many voices of discontent.
This clamour was, however, balanced by the calm voices of Tony Greig, Aakash Chopra and Johnathan Agnew who commented that they were happy with the decision!
Tony Greig said (a) he saw something on super slow motion replays and (b) Dravid said he was out anyway! So as far as he was concerned, Dravid was out.
Aakash Chopra said he was comfortable with the out decision because he saw a detection and was confident that Dravid would, himself, say he was out.
Johnathan Agnew said that the umpire had several other technologies at his disposal and was immensely experienced. Moreover, since Dravid himself said he was out, Agnew said he was confident that the right decision had been made!
Some online commentary experts indicated that their view was influenced by the fact that Dravid’s body language had suggested a nick. Some of them indicated that his initial movement was to head towards the pavillion and therefore, the player himself may have thought he was out!
As far as I am aware, “AskThePlaya” is not yet a part of the DRS protocol. So, what Dravid thinks of his dismissal is mildly irrelevant. Indeed, his views on his own dismissal are as irrelevant as his opinions on the capabilities of Geoff Boycott’s grandmother. His opinions in this debate are as useful as Andrew Symonds’ views after he nicked the ball in that infamous 2008 Test Match in Sydney. Andrew Symonds wasn’t dismissed after his admission that he ‘nicked’ it. Dravid’s personal views are but that: personal.
Unless of course, “AskThePlaya” has been introduced in a sly manner into the DRS protocol overnight.
Similarly, when I last checked, “CheckTheBodyLanguage” and “SpotTheNervousTwitch” are not part of the DRS. So Steve Davies could not have used Dravid’s initial movements or the nervous and anxious twitches in his left eyebrow to make up his mind. He made up his mind on the basis of the body of evidence he had in front of him and not on the basis of the body language of the player.
So let us stick to the facts in this matter!
We, at home, saw almost everything that the umpire saw saw. The side camera angle was not available because a fielder had blocked out that camera. So what was available was the front on camera view, in which the deflection is not totally discernible. There may have been a deflection. But the onus of proof/evidence has to be higher for the 3rd umpire to (a) over-rule the on-field umpire, (b) deny the batsman the benefit of doubt.
After several, several viewings on TV (and TV recordings) we still cannot make up our minds and agree on what Steve Davies saw. I am less interested in whether it was the right decision ‘in retrospect’. At the time, if it was the wrong decision, it just remains the wrong decision.
And in my view, it was the wrong decision.
Meanwhile, if you remember, Nasser Hussain said he wanted the DRS because, amongst other things, he could explain ‘out’ decisions more clearly to his kids. Well, I tried imagining the state of play at Nasser Hussain’s home last night.
Remember that when Nasser Hussain tried to explain why Harbhajan Singh was given out when he was clearly not out, his kids were bored, tired and confused.
The kids went to sleep. Nasser Hussain got his underpants in a horrible twist.
He called the whole thing a “disgrace” and screamed out for the DRS to be embraced, adopted and promulgated for greater clarity in cricket. Wise man. Honourable man.
When Ian Bell got out, poor Nasser Hussain tried to explain what happened to his kids.
The kids went to sleep. They woke up. Had nightmares. Poor Nass. He tripped over his own words and, in the process, had to purchase a whole rack of underpants!
Last night, he probably tried to explain the DRS-assisted Rahul Dravid decision to his kids. The poor kids may have asked. “Dad: Was it out? Or, Was it not out?”
He may have had to say that if there was a ray of light that hit the bat at an angle of 14.23 degrees or higher to the pitch and when the batsman’s front foot is 3.5 degrees to the left and more than 2.8 inches ahead of where the bat may have been when the bowler released the ball, and when shadows on the pitch cover more than 23.67% of the picture, then HotSpot does not work with an accuracy of greater than 32%. And under circumstances, the only thing that does work is a 3rd umpire who is in a “very happy place”!
The kids went to sleep. They woke up. Had nightmares. And if I were them, I would request dad to not talk about cricket ever again!
What we saw last night was, in my view, one of the worst decisions I have seen on the cricket field in a long, long time. If this is the way we run our cricket the ICC will be driving away kids like Nasser Hussain’s young ones.
And at that point in time, it will not matter whether Nasser Hussain wears underpants or not!
— Mohan (@Mohan)