Ever since the Decision Review System (DRS) was adopted by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 2009 India has been the only nation of the ten full members who has not accepted it and refused to use it during any of their bilateral series with other countries.
The question of not using DRS has kept cropping up whenever India goes through a bad series or a match and it was no surprise when someone from the Indian media popped that question up again when they lost the first Test against Sri Lanka in the ongoing series at Galle by 63 runs.
Virat Kohli, the Indian captain’s reply was: We are not using it in this series. It’s not an issue I want to debate on at present. When the series is over we will sit down and figure out how important is it or how much we want to use it. As I said, we only have ourselves to blame. I don’t want to get into the debate of DRS or any other issues in this particular game. We should keep the questions to how badly we played today rather than things that are completely out of debate as of now.”
With DRS not in use there were quite a few umpiring decisions that went against India as well as against the host country at Galle, but Kohli was adamant not to get drawn into any controversy.
“I don’t want to speak about things we cannot control. We kept bowling in the right areas. We bowled very well throughout this Test. The batsmen took some calculated risks and some that had more chances of not coming off credit to them. The way they started hitting in the end they had nothing to lose. Free mind and were able to think clearly. I don’t want to talk about other things or make excuses. We played really badly and that’s why we are on the losing side.”
The DRS debate arose when Sri Lanka opener Kaushal Silva was unlucky to be given out caught off his arm guard in the first innings. The absence of DRS meant the batsman had to accept the umpire’s decision (whether right or wrong) and walk back. There was another incident involving Dinesh Chandimal as well during his match-winning knock of 162 not out which went in favour of Sri Lanka.
It was during a Test series in Sri Lanka in 2008 that India got the first taste of DRS when it was first on trial by the ICC. It did not go well for India because they got right only one review whereas Sri Lanka got right 11. Ever since then India has shunned it saying that it was not 100 percent accurate. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refusal to accept it has been linked to three main factors as it was reported in ‘Sport Stack Exchange’: 1. The technology is not 100 percent accurate; 2. The umpire’s decision is questioned; and 3, The system is expensive.
The ICC’s position on it was that DRS improves accuracy, that it may improve the balance between bat and ball and, that the cost of using it is justified. The ICC has hoped that the broadcasters would include the cost of using DRS in their budgeting, but over the years it has not been the case for the broadcasters have put the ball in the court of the hosting country to bear the costs. This has resulted in the DRS not being used consistently in all countries. Countries that can afford the cost are using it with the whole gamut of its components like Hawk-Eye, Hot-Spot and Snickometer whereas others like Sri Lanka for instance in the last series against Pakistan make use of only the minimal requirements because of the cost factor. Thus in some way India’s refusal to accept DRS is quite justified.
In such circumstances if the ICC is keen that every country should make use of the system they should as they do in global tournaments conducted by them (where the technology is in use) bear the cost to ensure consistency of its use. It is the ICC who introduced the technology for the sole purpose of reviewing controversial decisions made by the on-field umpires as to whether or not a batsman had been dismissed. It is they who are keen to have it used at all international matches. Thus the ball is in their court to make sure that it is done in a manner where there is uniformity not inconsistency.