Cow Corner

ICC’s turns DRS into slightly different, but even more ridiculous farce

Cow Corner

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In the four years since it was officially made part of Test cricket, the Decision Review System has gone through all sorts of identities in the minds of the cricket lovers.

When it started out it was hailed as a brave and forward-thinking move by the ICC to get more decisions right. Since then it has progressed to vital-but-occasionally-flawed, then to lesser-of-the-evils-despite-its-shortcomings, and finally, during the Ashes this summer, to absolute-farce-that-makes-complete-mockery-of-the-game.

Put simply, DRS became a farce and a joke - quite literally, in the case of one of Cow Corner's blogs from earlier this summer.

Poking fun at DRS's expense this summer actually began to prove tough, however, since anything Cow could dream up consistently fell short, for sheer implausibility, of the real-life outrages perpetrated time and time again by the umpires.

This summer, DRS was used to wrongly overturn good calls made by umpires.

It failed to correct the most blatant injustices.

The effectiveness of the technology was called into question time and time again, so much so that all manner of utterly ludicrous accusations, including the infamous silicon bat hypothesis, began to persuade normally rational people that skulduggery was afoot.

Sometimes that was indeed the case, of course, as Stuart Broad showed in staggeringly shameless fashion once the opposition's reviews were all gone as he "cheated spectacularly and unashamedly".

But funniest of all - particularly when demonstrated by David Warner - were the moments when DRS panicked players into making knee-jerk reviews for dismissals that couldn't have been more obvious had the batsman's middle stump been sent cartwheeling past the wicketkeeper.

These decisions led to all sorts of reactions. Some suggested that the Australians should "do an India" and simply refuse to get fully on board with DRS, but a cool-headed analysis actually showed that a bit of Alastair Cook's common sense would have gone a long way for the Australians.

That particular thought clearly struck home with Aussie skipper Michael Clarke, leading to another rather hilarious consequence: players becoming so wary of spurious reviews that they failed to press their cases when they really ought to have done.

And one such case led to the mother of all outrages in what Cow dubbed the "most bizarre Ashes dismissal ever".

That came as the worst ball of Graeme Swann's career (his own judgement, not simply ours) somehow took the wicket of Chris Rogers in circumstances that were almost unfathomably ridiculous.

Here's our screengrab of the incident in question, since we don't want anybody who doesn't click the link to forget just how bad it was. What Swann was doing, what the umpire thought he saw, and what Rogers and his partner at the crease were thinking will remain mysteries until the end of time.

Or the end of cricket. Whichever comes sooner.

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In that context, it's no great surprise that the ICC was happy to admit, with the Ashes over, that the system was flawed and needed a rethink.

All sorts of ideas were suggested. Most sensible was the suggestion to use the 'snickometer', which had hitherto been deemed too slow, and was therefore only used by TV companies to show the sound of ball clipping bat a few seconds after the official decision came through.

Stepping back from the use of the technology altogether was also suggested, as were eminently sensible moves such as ensuring that a team did not lose one of its reviews on close LBW calls that the computer suggested may or may not have been hitting the stumps.

But rather than bring in new and improved technology or amend how it's used, the ICC have simply decided to bring in two EXTRA reviews per innings, which come in to play once the batting team has been at the crease for more than 80 overs.

After that 80-over mark - the same point at which the bowling team get the benefit of a new ball - both teams are bumped back up to two reviews if they have used one or both of their reviews already. Yes, so much less complicated than before.

If they have yet to use a review, however, they will not get extra reviews - they will merely keep their remaining two, meaning that every time they get close to that 80 over mark, we will inevitably witness all manner of outrageous try-your-luck attempts.

In theory, that should not be a problem. But as DRS has proven for nearly half a decade, theory ain't much good at predicting what people will do in the heat of battle.

Two extra reviews simply means two more chances for outrageous blunders on the parts of the umpires and players alike.

The ICC's six-month trial of the new idea begins with this week's Bangladesh v New Zealand Test series. So at least the governing body has got something right: they've had the good sense to kick things off with a match whose viewing figures will do well to hit four figures.

After the very public debacle that was the last Ashes series, at least they will make their latest round of mistakes in as private an arena as international cricket can muster.

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