Even though its fervent opposition to the Decision Review System (DRS) is well known, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is reportedly game for a tweaked version.
According to ESPN Cricinfo, BCCI has apparently held informal discussions with the International Cricket Council (ICC) over the issue and according to sources, it is ready to soften its stance on the controversial review system.
India is the only country which has in principle opposed DRS’s implementation but has now been offered a compromise solution in an effort to persuade them to accept the system so it can be universally adopted at international level.
The BCCI currently refuses to sanction use of DRS in bilateral series involving India and, under N. Srinivasan, has declined the recommendation of the ICC’s cricket committee to embrace the DRS in all formats of the game at international level.
People close to the developments are optimistic that the BCCI’s attitude to the issue has softened and believe that the bone of contention is more about the number of reviews allowed in each innings rather than belief in the technology.
Currently, two unsuccessful reviews are allowed in each Test innings but the BCCI reportedly favours unlimited reviews. Unlimited reviews are likely to remain unacceptable to the ICC on the grounds that they will be time consuming and will encourage speculative use of the system.
But a compromise has been suggested whereby a side would not lose one of its two reviews if its appeal only failed on the basis of ‘umpire’s call’ — the margin of error built in to give the on-field umpires the benefit of the doubt in marginal decisions.
The BCCI declined to comment on the issue, but a spokesman did admit that it been in discussions with the ICC over the issue “for a while.” Another reason for the possible truce could be the presence of Jagmohan Dalmiya in BCCI in the absence of Srinivasan, who temporarily stepped aside to ensure no perception of bias while the BCCI looked into allegations of spot fixing in the IPL. The ICC has also sponsored testing of various ball- tracking methods in recent times, with the results generally vindicating faith in the system.
The timing of the news that universal introduction of DRS is back on the agenda is still surprising. The current Ashes series between England and Australia has contained several umpiring controversies and highlighted deficiencies with the DRS system. Indications are that discussions began before the series and may be difficult to maintain.
But while the ICC have accepted there have been problems during the Ashes, feels they have been caused more by failures in protocols or human error than problems with the technology.
As a result of the problems, the ICC will consider developing specialist TV umpires and is also using the current Ashes series to trial an updated system whereby the TV umpire will have access to more images and technology than ever before rather than being reliant on the broadcaster to provide a limited number of images.
During the ICC’s annual conference late last month, not only BCCI, but a few other boards had also expressed their reservations on implementing the DRS uniformly in all matches.