Complicating issues

Time to express regret... Bangladesh cricket fans with placards outside the hotel housing the West Indies team in Dhaka apologise for their bad behaviour. Irate fans had stoned the bus ferrying the West Indies team back to its hotel following Bangladesh's humiliating defeat to the Caribbeans.-AP

The confusion over the implementation of DRS vis-a-vis leg-before decisions was among the low points of the 2011 World Cup. It all started in that pulsating ‘tie’ between India and England in a group match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Ian Bell, on the front foot, was beaten on the sweep by Yuvraj Singh’s left-arm spin and the umpire, Billy Bowden, ruled in favour of the batsman. India promptly asked for a referral.

Although the replays showed that the ball would have hit the off-stump, Bowden’s decision stood since the law stipulated that, if the point of impact was more than two and a half metres from the stumps, the standing umpire’s decision could not be overruled.

Bell was just 17 at the time and India saw red. Looking back, this was the pivotal moment of the game. The ICC was under pressure to clarify its stand. The resultant confusion took away some lustre from the tournament.

Even as the competition was on, the game’s governing body was forced to come up with a revised set of guidelines for the 2.5-metre rule.

The ICC said that when a not out leg-before decision was being reviewed and the replays showed the point of impact was more than 2.5m from the stumps, the umpires had to consider another factor: the distance the ball had travelled between pitching and hitting the pad. If that was less than 40 centimetres, and the ball still had to travel more than 2.5m to reach the stumps, then a verdict favouring the batsman by the on-field umpire would stay.

The new guidelines enabled the umpires to reverse decisions where the batsman was plumb, even if the impact was far down the wicket. The reason the 40 cm distance gained prominence was due to the Hawk Eye needing to monitor the ball’s path for some distance after it had pitched in order to determine where it would have gone after hitting the pad. If the ball struck the pad soon after it had bounced, then the accuracy of the prediction, as to where the ball would have travelled, could not be guaranteed.

This admission about the Hawk Eye’s limitations added weight to those opposing DRS. The BCCI was not entirely unhappy.

Fans up in arms

Bangladesh served up some outstanding moments in the World Cup. The crowds turned up in large numbers and the support for the host country was extraordinary. Yet, the seemingly limitless passion turned to anger when Bangladesh was, rather ignominiously, dismissed for 58 by the West Indies in a crucial group match in Dhaka.

Shockingly, the West Indies team bus was surrounded by enraged fans after the one-sided game. The vehicle was, subsequently, stoned by irate Bangladesh supporters.

The Rapid Action Battalion was summoned by the authorities to bring the situation under control. Sadly, things had come to this pass. There were some who said the fans had thrown hard objects at the vehicle assuming it to be the Bangladesh team bus. The disappointment over Bangladesh’s capitulation had led to turmoil on the streets.

The authorities in Bangladesh issued an apology to the West Indian team which was gracious in the manner it retained composure through the ordeal.

Flawed format

The tournament’s format came under the scanner. Although Ireland stunned England, the decision to increase the number of teams to 14 for the competition was not well received by many. The move certainly diluted the competition. Many of the matches featuring minnows such as Canada and Holland were no-contests really. Cricket is not exactly known for depth in the field, and a ‘Super Eight’ format in the second stage of the tournament had the potential to throw up more quality matches.

The format was in play in the 2007 World Cup, but the shock elimination of India and Pakistan forced the ICC to rethink on the structure of the tournament. With seven teams in each group and four sides from each pool progressing to the quarterfinals, it was easy to predict teams that would make the last-eight stage. This made several matches in the long drawn out group stage irrelevant. When you have only 10 full members of the ICC, and two of them happen to be Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, the quarterfinal line-up is largely decided before the first ball is delivered.

Actually, the World Cup in this format boiled down to how a team performed in three matches — the quarterfinal, the semi-final and the final.

It was believed that the format change was done to ensure that India reached at least the quarterfinals and figured in enough matches to rake in the advertisement revenue. India triumphed in the competition. The format was flawed though.

S. Dinakar