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Is Technology Changing the Gentleman’s Game?
Aug 01, 2014 Published in technology
Keywords: cricket bat technology, cricket controversy, cricket technologies, cricket technology, drs technology in cricket, information of cricket, technology used in cricket, third umpire technology in cricket, use of technology in cricket
After the end of the fifth day’s play in Southampton where India lost by some 200 odd runs to England, I started wondering what actually could have attributed to this defeat. Apart from the obvious lacklustre batting display by the batsmen and spineless fielding, another reason which comes to my mind is India’s stubbornness to opt against the DRS system. Ian Bell scored 167 on the first innings but was lucky to be not dismissed LBW for a duck because the Umpire failed to give a correct decision and India did not have the option of DRS. Had those runs not been scored, the scenario might have been different now.

However, India has had its reasons for not opting for the DRS system. They have mostly been on the receiving end of the technologies introduced into the game. In a match between India and South Africa in 1992, Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman ever to be given out via the Third Umpire’s decision. Until then the teams had to rely solely on the on-field umpire’s decision to decide the fate of the match. Knowing Sachin, one can hardly imagine what he might have achieved in that match, had that technology not been there.

Since then, the third umpire’s role has been pivotal in shaping the look of the game. Armed with the stump camera and microphone, technology like the Snickometer and the cameras positioned all around the ground, the Third umpire’s decisions have changed the course of many-a-game.

Controversial Technologies in the game

The Umpire’s Decision Review System (UDRS) or simply DRS, was introduced to review controversial decisions made by the on-field umpires. However, its three components; the Hawk Eye, Snickometer and the Hot Spot technologies are not completely fool-proof. The Hawk eye is based on the ‘what-if’ assumption and the Hot Spot isn’t always accurate. In the end, we again have to rely on the Third-Umpire’s discretion. Coincidentally for India, Virender Sehwag became the first victim of DRS and that too was a dubious decision.

Matches disrupted due to weather conditions, leading to result-less matches had led to the introduction of the Duckworth Lewis Method (D/L), which unlike its preceding statistical method, was quite fool-proof. However, it takes the uncertainty, which is an integral part of cricket, out of the equation while deciding the results. As such, efforts remain wasted and the side losing by the D/L method is left with a bad taste in the mouth. For instance, West Indies were left disappointed when they lost to Sri Lanka in this year’s Twenty20 World Cup semi-finals by the D/L method. Had there been no rain, one or two high scoring overs might have changed the result of the game, which indeed seemed unfair for the erstwhile defending champions.

Impact on the spirit of the game

Cricket is a game of uncertainties. It has been rightly said that the game is not over until the last ball is bowled. Technology not only takes away that uncertainty from the game but it also hampers the true spirit in which it used to be originally played. There are more number of wrong decisions made by the on-field umpires nowadays and they do not even make an effort to correctly decide any dismissal as they always have the Third umpire as a back-up. As a result, players have less respect and faith on the on-field umpire’s decision. A time may come when the umpires may no more be able to intervene in the on-field tiffs between players and we might have to call in the security guards to prevent a fight; for instance in an incident such as the Miandad-Lillee fight in 1981. The game is actually getting somewhat mechanized nowadays as human decisions are getting replaced by technology.

Future of technology in Cricket

Despite the shortcomings, technology in cricket is here to stay. The DRS system will surely be tweaked a bit more to make it as accurate as possible since ICC looks to make it mandatory in all matches. There are talks of ‘day and night’ test matches, using specific balls, but that is a thing of the future. Technology used in the right way has helped the game, especially the different methods used by the teams for training and practice such as the bowling machine. Technology shall help the game if it is used sensibly and players play in the right spirit, only then the ‘Gentleman’s Game’ shall thrive in all its glory.
By Jamal Amir
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