Use technology to counter cheats

The Australian captain showed the world that cheating can be profitable.

ClarkeThis is just not Cricket! This statement was used commonly in the past to describe any action that went against honesty and truthfulness.

In years gone by, cricket was competitive but fair and with respect for the opponent.

It was there to showcase a person’s character and discipline, and taught how to deal with the ups and downs of the game.

Winston Churchill correctly said that Waterloo was won on the playing field of Eton.

Over time, this principle gradually diminished as winning at all costs became the sole aim. Any possible loopholes in the rules were exploited and batsmen, bowlers and fielders were all responsible for making life difficult for the umpire.

Local officials were, at times, blamed for biased decisions before neutral umpires were introduced. But similar to foreign cricketers, the umpires from overseas lacked knowledge of local conditions.

But with plenty of cricket being played internationally, the elite panel of umpires are now much more experienced and well conditioned to different venues, but they still need the tools for better decision- making.

In India, we were taught to play cricket like a true gentlemen. I can remember when my coach Kamal Bhandarkar reprimanded me for throwing the ball up to rejoice a catch or dispute an umpire’s decision. There were several like him who stood by their principles even when the game was witnessing aggressive, intimidatory and unruly behaviour.

The Australians brought in the art of sledging and not walking back till one was given out. The England team gradually followed the Australian way and the 70’ s and 80’ s became a hell hole for a confused cricketer.

There were several incidents of brawls at all levels of the game and umpires had a difficult time controlling the game.

Now the only way forward is technology. The world has implemented it in nearly all walks of life. There were some who have been critical of the change but overall the Decision Review system (DRS) in cricket and other sports has been a good solution to bring transparency and consistency.

There are three distinct components of the DRS — Hawk Eye, Hot Spot and Snickometer. Each one of them has had some problems, but no one can dispute that the technology does offer an element of unbiased output.

India has shown a reluctance to adopt it and so have some of the poor boards who cannot afford the $ 50,000 cost per day. Tennis and some other sports have realised the importance of modernisation and the only way forward for cricket is a move towards technology.

The Hot Spot fails at times when the ball brushes a plastic sticker, the Snickometer picks up noise when the bat brushes the pad or a slight movement in the placement of the camera could show some error in the behaviour of the ball.

But there is always scope for improvement as technology is progressing at a breathtaking speed.

The ICC has now enough funds to ensure the implementation of DRS as it gets quite difficult to appreciate the wonderfully compiled century of Michael Clark the other day when we all know that he was out caught at short leg even before he reached 50.

The Australian captain showed the world that cheating can be profitable. I do not subscribe to the theory that in the long run it evens out. Not all cricketers get a long tenure; some poor rookie is lost because he has been the receiver of some bad decisions.

The time has come for the world to move forward and assist the umpires. A beep if the bowler bowls a no- ball or a handheld instrument for action replays could be some important measures to take up immediately to get cheaters out of the system.

A red card or a onematch suspension could be handed to clear- cut offenders.

The game has to be cleaned of all ambiguity and cricket should be the Gentlemen’s Game!

(The writer is a former Test cricketer)

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