It has been wrong from the beginning to bill this as a contest between humans and technology, when in reality it has always been a case of humans using technology and interpreting the evidence it provides. Hawk-Eye can, at best, provide an approximation of the ball’s path, and while being relatively more accurate than human judgement, it is dependent on a number of variables, including overhead conditions, to deliver optimal projections. Hot Spot, while it has improved, can still produce misleading evidence, sometimes because of extreme conditions, but sometimes because of simple human error.
Amidst all the sound, the fury, and the emotion-heavy venting, Sambit Bal’s piece on the DRS comes as a relief. And the part underlined above really goes to the crux of a ‘To DRS or not’ argument that seems to be slipping into a game of ‘gotcha’ by the pro and anti factions.
How about we pretend, just for a moment, that we are sensible? How about we put the cart where it belongs — at the arse-end of the horse?
As Sambit points out, the point of having technology is to use it to eliminate, or at the least minimize, error. So, who makes the error? The on-field umpire. When? At the point of rendering the original decision.
Therefore, when do you really need technology? To aid me in my decision-making — not to second guess my decision after I have made it.
So how about this scenario? You are umpiring at the business end. Anderson bowls, Haddin swishes, keeper and fielder go up in appeal — and you are not sure Haddin got the nick the fielders think he did.
The operative bit here is, you are not sure. And that is when you need technology (Errors — a large part of them — stem from your being forced into a decision without having all the facts at your disposal).
So in this hypothetical scenario, the umpire whose decision is sought phones upstairs and goes, mate, can you check the visuals on this one? I know the keeper took it clean, I think I heard a noise, but I didn’t see an edge. Check?
The third umpire checks the front foot, checks Hot Spot, freezes the frame if necessary at the point of supposed impact to see if there is perceptible daylight between bat and ball, and reports his findings back to the on-field umpire. Who, now armed with as much data as is available, then makes the call yea or nay. And that is that.
Today the use of technology has created a game within a game (You are playing against the system, you’ve got three throws of the dice, let’s see if you are good enough to put your chips on the table at the right time).
What if we move the debate away from whether or not to use tech, to when to use tech?
What if we replace the Decision Review System with a Decision Making System?
Or does that smack of a solution too simple it of course should never even be considered?