Cricket has been stumped by technology

The advent of technology was supposed to help umpires and improve cricket but needs to be handled with far more care.

Last updated: 19 Jan 2014 10:28
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The recent Ashes Tests have been marred by DRS controversy [Getty Images]

Maybe the Indian cricket bosses have got it right after all.

Technology, designed to help sport get it right, has become a chain around the ankle. The powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been criticised for years for its refusal to use technology and embracing the Decision Referral System (DRS).

And it is reasonable to have questioned the reason for their reticence - has it really been mistrust of the technology or has it been a way of protecting their powerful superstar batting line-up? Which umpire would raise his finger against Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar in India unless he was 100 per cent sure?

But perhaps that's how it should still be – with benefit of the doubt.

Warner controversy

A new low in the role of technology in cricket was reached last week in the first Australia-England One-Day International. Ben Stokes removed Australian opener David Warner, or at least he should have removed him. Stokes went up and as did wicket-keeper Jos Buttler who claimed it. Warner - to his credit - turned to Buttler and inquired about its legitimacy. When

Buttler said yes, Warner walked.

The batsman had reached the boundary when he was asked to wait. With the matter having been resolved on the field, it was mystifyingly checked by the TV umpire Kumar Dharmasena who then went on to reverse the decision and reinstated Warner.

I don't know anyone else who has seen the footage and thinks it hit the ground before Buttler got the ball in his gloves.
Warner went on to score 65 in a decisive 163-run opening partnership with Aaron Finch.

So what we have here is that technology, after a correct and sensible decision was made on the field, turned it into a wrong decision.

While Hawk-eye continues to be a positive part of the game, Hot Spot and Snickometre have raised enough doubts to make them more of a hindrance than help.


Let me play the Devil's Advocate. Should Buttler not be reported to the International Cricket Council (ICC) in a similar manner to Dinesh Ramdin then? For claiming a catch which wasn’t. Surely if it wasn't out, he willfully cheated. I'd like see the ICC get out of that one.

What has become of cricket? How many times over the ten Ashes Tests over the last six months was a decision questioned after technology was involved? While Hawk-eye continues to be a positive part of the game, Hot Spot and Snickometre have raised enough doubts to make them more of a hindrance than help.

What is really dragging cricket down though is the unnecessary tactical use of technology. The spirit and flow of games are being ruined. 'Tactical appeals' are simply not why technology was introduced to cricket. It was meant to correct howlers and to help the umpires.

Theoretically, Mitchell Johnson could clearly take the wicket that wins the Ashes for Australia and start celebrating but the England batsman, while knowing he is out, could hold everyone up by reviewing it. What a lovely way to force an anti-climax. Let’s not forget the no-ball checks. These types of scenario have actually become a common occurrence when it should be seen as absurd.

This mindset has badly affected the cricketers’ behaviour. The reason I don't blame Stuart Broad for his infamous 'refusal to walk' is the atmosphere is now set up for standing your ground.

Some of us can remember a few series full of biased decisions of home umpires, shockers that became part of cricket folklore and can still get old pros grumbling. West Indians are still furious about a series in New Zealand in '79/80. The umpiring in Pakistan v England in 1987 reached Government level and became a diplomatic incident.

The decision-making in 2014 is far preferable to that. But for technology to help cricket properly, there needs to be more consistency and common sense. It technology is a weapon, it needs to be handled with far more care.



Lee Wellings - Sport Correspondent at Al Jazeera English. He tweets @LeeW_Sport


The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.


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