DRS gaffes

While technology has largely helped the umpires make the right decisions, cricket being a complex sport, the DRS has also generated controversy and drama. Here are a few instances of the DRS making news for the wrong reasons.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni opts for the DRS after the umpire turns down a leg-before appeal against Ian Bell of England in a group match of the 2011 ICC World Cup at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. The third umpire upheld the on-field umpire’s decision.   -  Getty Images

The Decision Review System (DRS) has always been ambiguous for players and fans alike and, as we have seen on occasions, even the umpires. Introduced into the game to resolve contentious decisions made by the umpires on the field, the DRS has, at times, caused more confusion.

While technology has largely helped the umpires make the right decisions, cricket being a complex sport, the DRS has also generated controversy and drama. Here are a few instances of the DRS making news for the wrong reasons.

Ian Bell (England versus India, World Cup, 2011)

With England chasing 339 for victory in Bangalore, the Indians appealed for a leg-before decision against Bell, and the umpire ruled the batsman not out. India opted for the DRS, which showed the ball had struck Bell in line with the stumps. However, the on-field decision stuck owing to the ‘2.5-metre rule’. According to the rule, the technology is deemed unreliable with regard to tracking the path of the ball when the ball strikes the pad 2.5 metres or further away from the stumps. Umpire Billy Bowden had given Bell the benefit of the doubt, and so the decision stood.

Bell was on 17 at the time; he went on to score 69 and England tied the match.

V. V. S. Laxman (India versus England, Trent Bridge Test, 2011)

This Test is known more for another incident involving Bell, but the DRS gave rise to some debate as well. The English players were bemused when an appeal for caught behind was not upheld despite the use of technology — in this case, Hot Spot. According to England captain Andrew Strauss, his players were convinced of a “clear edge” that went undetected. Former England captain Michael Vaughan suggested that Laxman may have used ‘Vaseline’ on the edges of his bat to gain advantage; he later retracted his statement, suggesting it was just a joke.

Laxman was on 27 then, in the first innings. He went on to score 54. A lopsided second innings performance with bat and ball saw India crash to a big defeat.

Usman Khawaja (Australia versus England, Old Trafford Test, 2013)

Australia had already been on the wrong side of an umpiring error, when Stuart Broad was reprieved in the first Test of the series.

Khawaja was given out by the on-field umpire Tony Hill after an appeal for caught behind off the bowling of off-spinner Graeme Swann. Wicket-keeper Matt Prior was convinced that the batsman had edged the ball. Khawaja shook his head and sought a review of the decision. And despite the seemingly clear evidence of no edge, the third umpire thought otherwise and asked Hill to stick to his decision. To be fair, according to replays, there was a sound, but after the ball had passed the bat, and from a camera angle, it seemed clear that there was a big gap between bat and ball.

The decision prompted Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to tweet, “I’ve just sat down to watch the Test. That was one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen. KRudd”.

Cricket Australia then asked the International Cricket Council for an explanation.

Khawaja was out for 1. A knock of 187 from Michael Clarke gave Australia the advantage in the contest, which was eventually drawn.

Joe Root (England versus Australia, Perth Test, 2013-14)

This was another caught-behind decision that was given as a sound had been heard during reassessment by the third umpire, although there was no indication of an edge by Hot Spot. The on-field decision was out, and despite Root’s conviction that he had not edged the ball, the third umpire ruled there was no considerable evidence to overturn the decision. The batsman went back to the pavilion for 4.

England was eventually bowled out for 251 in the first innings of the third Ashes Test. It went on to lose the match by 150 runs, and the series 5-0.

Nathan Lyon (Australia versus New Zealand, Adelaide, 2015)

The first ever day-night Test gave rise to a controversy when the third umpire, Nigel Llong, seemingly turned a straightforward decision into a complex one and eventually gave the wrong decision. Nathan Lyon attempted to sweep left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, the ball popped up after hitting the batsman’s shoulder and was gobbled up by the fielder at gully. New Zealand decided to review the not-out decision given by the on-field umpire.

Replays showed a mark on the shoulder of the bat, but the third umpire was heard saying, “It’s a mark on the bat but it could have come from anywhere,” despite there being no other plausible explanation for that mark considering the arc that the bat had made. The Snicko did not show any spike, and no spike was registered even when the ball went on to hit Lyon’s shoulder softly.

New Zealand eventually decided to seek an explanation from the world’s governing body. Australia narrowly won the Test, a low-scoring thriller.