Why Not Use Technology in Sports?

Yahoo cricket editorial blogs

At high levels of umpiring, you get things right about 92 per cent of the time. But the eight per cent is also now important at the high level the game is played these days - Kumar Sangakkara.

Kumar Sangakkara was rightfully unhappy after India decided not to use the 'controversial' Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) for the three-Test series in Sri Lanka. (India triumphed only once out of 21 referrals while Sri Lanka got 11 right in 27 reviews during the 2008 Test series). The International Cricket Council (ICC) has already announced that the review system would be implemented at next year's World Cup to minimize umpiring errors, provided an agreement be reached with broadcaster ESPN STAR Sports.

Since its introduction, the UDRS has evoked mixed response from the exponents of the game. Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said it was still premature. "It's still not a 100 per cent correct system. Let's wait and see until the ICC comes up with a foolproof plan," Dhoni added. Cricket's favourite umpire Dickie Bird criticised the system saying it undermines the authority of on-field umpires. While Australian captain Ricky Ponting blasted it saying that the introduction of the review system in Tests was a shame and it should have been tried at some other level before being even considered for the top format of the game.

Debate aside, the referral system itself has been suffering from financial and execution problems. One of the many reasons behind its unavailability, despite ICC pushing it to be used in all Tests, is the cost of the very technology. The reluctance of home cricket boards to bear the expensive costs of the equipment is quite understandable as they are under no compulsion to provide the service on the house. If ICC wants to sort out the problem, they should probably take on the cost burden to implement the technology, and then eventually ask the boards, broadcasters to follow the same.

Say in Tennis, the Hawk-Eye system was introduced way back in 2006. The US Open, first Grand Slam to use the system, provided players with the opportunity to challenge line calls. Since its introduction, Hawk-Eye's ball-tracking system has been widely embraced by the vast majority of players and audience. Andre Agassi said Hawk-Eye was one of the most exciting things to happen for players, fans and television viewers in Tennis. The system provides precise information on the trajectory, pace, placement and point of contact of each shot on the court. However, Roger Federer remains critical of the Hawk-Eye system and thinks that soccer needs the replay technology more than tennis.


The call for the use of technology in football became much louder during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Several refereeing errors plagued the World Cup with England's Frank Lampard's goal, which bounced behind the German goal line, topping the blunder chart. Argentina's Carlos Tevez's off-side header against Mexico, Kaka's red card against Ivory Coast and Valon Behrami's red against Chile screamed to FIFA for the video aid. However, world football's governing body ruled out any possibility of goal-line technology and decided to have extra officials behind each goal. They said it would make the game slow! Like Prem rightly said, To err is human, to stonewall is FIFA.

Assisting the referee: What are the options?

ICC itself said that the level of correct decision-making when using the video review system has risen from 92 per cent to around 97 per cent. The world cricket body should be working fast on cost issues and the availability of technology to avoid human errors deciding the fate of a game.