Rahul Dravid is going to have a bittersweet memory of what is most likely his last tour of England. He was by far the best Indian batsman on view as the visitors were humbled and whitewashed in the Test series, as a result of which he was summoned out of the blue to give some much-needed stability to India’s limited-overs squad in England. Dravid may have kept England’s brilliant bowling attack at bay so far in the series, but he has failed to do that against the Decision Review System (DRS).
The DRS has played a controversial role in three of Dravid’s dismissals on this tour, the latest being the shocking decision of third umpire Marais Erasmus to reverse on-field umpire Billy Doctrove’s verdict moments earlier in the first match of the one-day series played at Chester-le-Street today. Dravid, who was playing his first ODI since September 2009, had made 2 from six balls, when Stuart Broad’s vociferous caught behind appeal was turned down by Doctrove. Broad immediately asked for the review, and despite there being no clear evidence from Hot Spot, Erasmus inexplicably ruled in the bowler’s favour after what seemed like a never-ending wait. The Snicko-meter did indicate an edge; however it isn’t part of the DRS, as it doesn’t provide immediate results.
Dravid was also let down by the Hot Spot in the Edgbaston Test, where he was adjudged caught behind off a James Anderson delivery. Dravid didn’t review the decision as he walked back to the pavilion after having a word with non-striker Sachin Tendulkar, but he later admitted he was not convinced by the decision and should have reviewed it. Had Dravid asked for a review, replays would have shown there was nothing on the Hot Spot and the Snicko later confirmed the same, not surprising that, as he had touched his shoe-lace with the bat and not the ball.
At The Oval, Dravid was given out caught bat-pad by Alastair Cook at short leg off Graeme Swann. The appeal was initially turned down by umpire Rod Tucker, but England reviewed straightaway and despite there being no conclusive evidence from the front angle on the Hot Spot and Cook obscuring the side-on view, third umpire Steve Davis overturned his on-field colleague’s decision. Dravid later admitted he had got a thin edge, but the issue at the heart of the matter is how could Davis and Erasmus overrule technology and make their own conclusions in the wake of inconclusive proof with or without a change in the batsman’s body language.
These three dismissals of Dravid are likely to re-ignite the heated debate of using technology in cricket, and with senior international umpire Simon Taufel questioning the accuracy of Hawk-Eye following a LBW decision against Australia’s opening batsman Phillip Hughes in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle. That decision didn’t have an impact on the result as Australia won by 125 runs to take the lead in the three-match series; but it is clear the Decision Review System as a whole has not had the best of times recently, and this wouldn’t have escaped the attention of the technology’s critics. On the flip side, there have been instances where the DRS has played a key role in overturning horrendous umpiring decisions.
That, however, doesn’t take away from the glaring loopholes in the technology as well as the human interpretation of the same and it will be interesting to see the International Cricket Council defend the system in the face of some expected scathing criticism.