By Charles Wilson
Until the forthcoming Test series between India and England, starting in Rajkot, the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) had refused to accept the Decision Review System (DRS) for reasons frankly unbeknown to the rest of the cricketing world. They had declined a system that has brought not only clarity, but also fairness to the players and the game. Why has it taken this leading cricketing nation seven years and 354 days to introduce it without fuss?
I cannot, as many Indian players suggest, accept that DRS has been unfair to India. The only exception was the series of Sri Lanka in 2008, when DRS failed to cut out “controversial” decisions. But at this time, DRS was under-developed and the concept naïve; India were wrong to judge the system on one performance alone. DRS needed chance to develop into an accurate and indispensable piece of technology, a chance that was never given by the Indian setup.
It was hypocritical of India to criticise DRS in the 2008 series, considering that DRS was predominantly introduced because of their mass criticism of the umpires in the New Zealand series only two months prior. India’s decision to boycott it was a fundamental error, and one that halted the progress of DRS within the cricketing community. However, a pressing question is whether this was the fault of the players, the BCCI, or perhaps both?
Who is to blame?
Clearly, we cannot blame DRS itself. It is also easy to blame the BCCI alone. I, unlike many commentators, place ownership at the door of the senior players in the Indian setup. MS Dhoni refused to support DRS on the basis it wasn’t 100% accurate. Quite frankly, this argument is irrational. Dhoni claimed this decision was for the benefit and protection of the players themselves. Dhoni and other experienced players seem to have forgotten the bigger picture. A bigger picture which only includes one question: does DRS considerably decrease the number of bad decisions? If this is the case, DRS should be used universally.
A new future for India?
We can finally move on from India’s stubbornness into a new era of DRS. Finally, every cricketing nation is on the same page. The question of whether DRS can be used is no longer, but how we can improve DRS should be the subject of nearly every ICC meeting. Whilst this does seem very positive, I still have doubts as to whether India will continue to use DRS. History has shown Indian cricket is not afraid to upset the ICC, so don’t be surprised if India change their mind after the England series.
Who benefits most from the decision to press ahead with the system in place?
One hopes that the contest between England and India will not be the subject of DRS. A fear for England, however, is that DRS will favour both Ashwin and Jadeja, with umpires less afraid of giving lbw decisions even with the batsman playing forward. Yet on the other hand, India have so little experience with DRS itself, which may play into the advantage of Cook’s men. For the Indian batsman especially, they will find it hard to resist the temptation of a review. England definitely have the edge with their experience and success with the system. Having spent the last month in Bangladesh on similar wickets, theoretically, they’ll know when to use the review system on spinning pitches. Moeen Ali has been a wise exponent of the system in the past. In the first test against Sri Lanka, he made four successful reviews.
While England’s experience with the technology may prove significant – especially if it is called upon as regularly as during the series in Bangladesh, India must still start as strong favourites on home turf.