Angus Fraser on the Ashes: Wouldn’t cricket be better off without DRS until the wrinkles are ironed out?

The game has created an animal that we don’t know how to control

On occasions during England’s thrilling victory in the first Ashes Test it was easy to forget that Ian Bell had scored a magnificent hundred and James Anderson had bowled beautifully. The airwaves, internet and newspapers seemed obsessed by the umpires’ Decision Review System and technology. Sadly, the performance of this system rather than the players – the real stars – dominated headlines.

For someone who has never been smitten with technology this focus marred my enjoyment of what was a stunning game of cricket. I wanted to read and hear about how well Bell had batted in a hot, intense, vital period of the Test, not that Stuart Broad had got away with edging one to slip because Australia had used up their reviews. Nor was I that fascinated by what the inventor of Hot Spot had to say for himself.

The coverage made me believe that technology is not actually serving cricket as well as it can and has too much of a hold on the game. When technology was introduced it was meant to remove real controversy from the sport by eliminating the occasional howler made by an umpire. DRS was meant to give everyone a clear understanding of what had taken place so that the correct decision could be given. On most occasions it achieves this goal. But when it fails, as the Broad and Jonathan Trott incidents highlighted, marginal decisions can easily be transformed into national catastrophes and this to me cannot be right.

At the moment cricket is half pregnant when it comes to technology. The game has created an animal that it does not know how to control. The call for technology comes from an enormous improvement in television coverage and the ability of cameras to spot detail  not previously seen. And because of this everybody knows the most effective way of reducing umpire error to a minimum is to refer every appeal or moment of uncertainty to a third umpire sat in an air-conditioned booth. On one of a dozen screens he will then, frame by frame, study the event from every angle and using every piece of technology – Hot Spot, super slowmo and audio – available. So forensic is the coverage that it won’t be long before a batsman is diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back after referring a dodgy decision. 

Cricket, understandably, is reluctant for there to be no limit on referrals because there will be periods of play where several appeals per over are sent for judgement, which will result in the game coming to a standstill. It is the reason why each captain is only allowed to incorrectly send two referrals per innings up to the third umpire.

Many believe that in the case of Broad the fault lay at Australia’s feet because Michael Clarke had incorrectly asked for two previous decisions to be looked at. I wonder whether England followers would have been so flippant had Alastair Cook used up his referrals before Brad Haddin was given out. Is it right that judging which decision to refer is now part of a captain’s skill set?

 



If technology is God, which many believe it is, it does not make sense that the Umpires Call rule applies. It is there to support the decision the on-field umpire makes. With many of these decisions we are talking about millimetres on a judgement where a margin for error is catered in. It is not an exact science.

The compromise makes the whole system look foolish because batsmen are given not out when the ball is hitting more of the stumps than when they are given out. And being the bitter and twisted bowler I am, yet being fully aware of the margin of error that exists in Hawk-Eye, I still struggle to see how a batsman is given not out when technology shows the ball will go on to hit the stumps.

The skill for fielding teams now is convincing an uncertain umpire to raise his finger if in doubt. With Australia having used up their referrals prior to the final day of the Test the stumps had in essence become four inches wider. Again, is it right that the odd  millimetre here and there should make such a difference?

In time I am sure these issues will be sorted out but in the meantime wouldn’t the game be better served by forgetting technology and returning to where we were? Technology was not used on England’s 2012 tour of India but do we remember the series for the occasional mistake made by an umpire? No, we remember it for the wonderful batting of Cook and Kevin Pietersen, the high quality bowling of Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Anderson, and because England produced a remarkable comeback to win the series 2-1.

News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Arts and Entertainment
film
Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Sport
bottom
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee