BCCI not for DRS

Sudhindra leaves after presenting his case before the BCCI’s disciplinary committee in Mumbai. BCCI banned him for life for spot-fixing in the IPL.-PTI

It is understandable that the ICC is looking at minimising the errors that are liable to be committed by umpires but at the same time over dependence on technology can also rob the game of its basic charm and character.

The cricket administrators had to deal yet again with the same old nemesis that has been plaguing the game for well over a decade — fixing in cricket in various ways. The BCCI was embarrassed by the sting operation of a television channel during the IPL and as such it was imperative that the apex body did something substantial to preserve the sanctity of the game.

The infamous five, Sudhindra, Srivastav, Bali, Mishra and Yadav were given opportunities to absolve themselves but obviously they were unable to acquit themselves of the allegations levelled at them. The BCCI has acted strongly based on the report submitted by Ravi Sawani and though the quantum of punishment is varied, one has to realise that the punishment has to be proportional to the magnitude of involvement.

It is a pity that except Sudhindra, the other players dug their own ground in a moment of madness brought about by the frustration of their not being an integral part of a IPL team which is seen as the main source of income these days. As far as Sudhindra is concerned it is ridiculous for him to have actually ventured into a silly mission when he is performing well enough in the first-class circuit. A bit of patience and another good season would have helped him to secure a contract with one of the IPL teams. The dearth of bowlers coupled with the fact that teams prefer to have as much backup as they possibly can in the bowling department suggest that opportunities are there to be had sooner or later for consistent performers in domestic circuit like Sudhindra.

The BCCI, unlike the ICC, did not dilly dally in handling this issue and the punishment meted out to the five players will definitely serve as a deterrent to others in the fraternity. In as much as it has handled the repercussions of the sting operation with an iron fist, it has also stood its ground in the recent ICC meeting with regard to the application of DRS in international cricket.

After a series of discussions, the stalemate continues with the ICC yet again leaving it to the respective countries in a bilateral series to come to an agreement on the DRS. The tug of war between the BCCI and ICC is set to continue (as things stand now) for as long as British sitcoms like “Coronation Street” or “Eastenders” have been telecast which is not the greatest of things for cricket, but the ICC has to realise that the inventor of the technology has admitted to the fact that it needs to be fine tuned a lot more before it can be considered “error free”.

There are several detractors of the BCCI for its stance on the DRS but one wonders why the ICC has to repeatedly bring up a subject that is not likely to gain unanimous approval. Besides, while the BCCI is made to appear as the villain of the DRS piece, what is not highlighted is the fact that the countries that are in favour of the DRS have asked the ICC to sort out the “grey areas” which include absorption of the cost of DRS technology and the ambit of the technology as well.

In their enthusiasm to get the DRS in place, the ICC has missed out on the fact that it needs to look at ways and means to have umpires who commit the least mistakes in its panel. The evaluation of the umpires’ performance needs to be revamped if one goes by the ordinary standard of umpiring seen in recent times.

The likes of Sheppard, Bucknor and Venkataraghavan had the same advantages or disadvantages as the current day umpires do but their consistency was admirable. As one of the former greats of fast bowling repeatedly says that helmets have not helped batsmen to improve their technique, the option available to refer to the third umpire has perhaps made the umpires lose their focus at times. While it is generally accepted by the Cricketing World that umpiring is a thankless job, one cannot be faulted for demanding better standards of umpiring given that the best of umpires in the World are supposedly officiating in international cricket. By enforcing a very strict code of conduct for the players, the umpires have been relieved of a lot of pressure that they might have been subjected to otherwise.

It is understandable that the ICC is looking at minimising the errors that are liable to be committed by umpires but at the same time over dependence on technology can also rob the game of its basic charm and character. Moreover, the need to overcome pressure in order to excel is applicable to the umpires as it is to the players. It may be worthwhile to try rotation of umpires as this will keep them fresh and since the laws are the same, there will be no danger of the interpretation of the laws being varied. In a game where the human element is the hallmark, it is difficult to comprehend why the ICC has not considered rotation of umpires with more than passing interest.