ONE-UPMANSHIP AT CRICKET
Posted on September 9th, 2015
BY GOMIN DAYASRI
India’s refusal to take DRS [Decision Review System] on board is just not cricket. Call it adulterated cricket.
ICC has a queer boardroom. If respected journalist Scyld Berry’s [Telegraph-UK] description of the last CEO’s meeting in Singapore, is credible – is ICC Indo-centric after suffering from a bout of Anglo Australian hangovers where the two countries formed a regal club over their former colonies to hold a veto power till 1996: stunted the growth of the game. India never attempted to democratize cricket instead joined the big boys to make it a triumvirate. Cricket administrators are like politicians: currency takes precedent over cricket. If Australia and England played duopoly, India upended playing monopoly without a partner.
Scyld Berry moans: “Before the afternoon, all the chief executives except India’s were in favor of the new umpires Decision Review System (DRS) for all international matches. After the tea break, the chief executives … voted to give … India-the veto power”. What happened over tea and cucumber sandwiches is a story untold? Let’s open the landscape.
Every test playing nation [9 in number] excluding India – make calls for DRS inspection, where errors made by umpires are subject to an appeal that is tested by a verified scrutiny. That rule is presently in operation where all Test playing nations compete at multi-polar contests – India included [World Cup 20/50 & Champions Trophy]. When India plays against another at an international fixture under a bi-lateral arrangement [Test match or 50/20 internationals] it is the Indian Board of Control for Cricket [BCCI] that calls the shots, which leads to double standards with DRS extracted.
If India opts out of the World Cup on refusing DRS, it would have to twiddle its thumbs away from the boundary ropes while other nations hog the limelight in the center pitch. India relents and participates: prudently without getting pick-pocketed. Otherwise in India, occult would be in business, media channels would turn chatter- box, suicide rate will increase, public premises would be gutted and premiums paid to insurance companies to protect homes of administrators.
As much, no nation will dare refuse to play India – just because India refuses to adopt DRS, the prime consideration takes precedent: filthy lucre fills the coffers of the host nation – when India enters the field. ICC, if it’s writ runs, should lay down the rule of uniformity, as it does in other cricketing matters. ICC is lax: eyeing the treasury.
In DRS, the umpire’s decision made at ground level is rightfully upheld unless it is palpably bad. A ruling by an umpire in a controversial leg before wicket decision (lbw) is revised, when the prime pointers are against his decision. That’s a tough hurdle to overcome but is frequently overturned to reveal the extent of the fault element is in the making of decisions by umpires. Mind you its two unsuccessful appeals per 80 overs, giving umpires a comfort zone to reign supreme. If there is a slightest element of doubt, the decision stays with the umpire. An umpire is always right, is a myth that existed before cricket came under the sway of television and technology to make them almost infallible. There lived one Don Bradman, in the days of faulty decisions; if DRS were available his average will rise further than the late nineties where it finally rested on retirement.
It appears India prefers faulty umpiring carrying the warts of human error to tested impassionate technological advancements that are degrees more reliable. Array in the armory of the DRS are Hawk Eye/Virtual Eye, Hot Spot. Snicko’ Meter, Freeze Pic, Slow Motion, Frame to Frame pics and Tracking Devices yet India prefers the sight and sound of one man upfront and of another in the square counting marbles. They doubt the veracity of the tracking device, because of pitch condition, forgetting other support instruments.
Why more reliable? Records reveal umpires make more judgmental errors than the technical know-how in usage. Does India prefer a determination made in a split second by an umpire, who can, due to a momentary lapse be subject to an human error as against a decision after observing several re runs of a camera in slow motion with the required freezes with the help of tracking devices observed from several angles by a third umpire. If so, there is more to it and India does so intentionally to include the possibility of an error in umpiring determinations. Forget sportsmanship and let’s take a step further to the target area – Cricket India wants to play the game in the spirit where error remains without minimizing its possibilities. Deep within, India knows but is too guilty to admit, error is to its advantage. Greed to Win takes over. Like the rest of the cricket administration, umpires too are vulnerable.
If the call is advantageous to India, what lies beyond? Presumption is – more of incorrect decisions, incapable of rectification, is to the advantage of the party declining to take on DRS. Undoubtedly technology is not perfect – that is India’s grievance and carries an element of truth. India had its share of hard decisions with DRS in operation (as much as others) but had more in its favor after DRS was omitted (more than others). Is there an iota of evidence that umpires’ decisions are more accurate than DRS? Umpires being human do make genuine human errors. Hopefully not contrived errors; India knows it and wants it either way. When ICCs’ top administrators bow in obedience to India, what makes a richly paid umpire per match not to make a call in favor when it’s a decision too close to call – takes cover under the rule when in doubt do nothing. Revert back to the Sycld Berry point where officialdom sipped tea and nibbled cucumber sandwiches in Singapore: collectively varied decision to fall in line with India under command or for comfort?
In other sports too, technological assistance is sought and adhered to and participating India raises no objection since the erratic Indian rupee carries no clout in those orbits. If an umpire fouls a decision the Indian press howls at umpires, more so, if the loss is to India. Otherwise it is glossed over. It happened in Galle a few weeks ago when India lost a test where errors counted. No choice-India has to accept it, in months or years to come, if that is their selected choice after hard talk and iron fist. It happened to Sri Lanka too when it lost a test to India. That received a feint squeak from the Indian media. Sri Lanka, like the rest of the world of cricket goes back to the DRS understanding the vagaries of cricket. Howlers cannot be erased. Give it to India, if they can, will take the best of both worlds.
Cricket, a great social leveler in India, percolates across social barriers to capture 80% of the worldwide viewers (live/television) and brings corresponding revenues to ICC: makes ICC a grumpy dwarf to India’s disfigured Snow White. India rules the waves from the Indian Ocean and the ICC waive the rules, bending to the Indian monetary juggernaut.
Judge of every court of law except the Supreme Court is subject to a check by a higher court by way of an appeal or revision: for the sake of maintaining the purity of a decision. Remember in cricket the decision is instantaneous and needs prompt rectification if it to be meaningful. If a judgment of the Supreme Court is mistakenly made it could be overturned and replaced by a rectified restitution process. It is, so in Justice India: but not so, in Cricket India.
Is an umpire at cricket more sacrosanct than a judge: who is lesser paid for a better mind? A judge has to give reasons in writing for every decision made by him but an umpire merely chews gum, if inclined, after making the decision and look nonchalant. Importance is in purifying the purity of the decision – otherwise cricket can be handed over to gaming gentleman with a dice instead of a stump mike.
India lives on its cricketing public especially the diaspora abroad. They turn the turnstiles and for that the decision matters. Look, as India comes close to losing, crowds take to the exit. In India cricket is more than a mere sport –national pride requires a win manipulated or otherwise. India can kill cricket by overdoing it. More on India, ask any neighbor?