Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Underthinking UDRS

Okay I already know this post will not meet everyone's tastes, since its about cricket. But I make no apologies cricket is one of my favourite things in the world, and also the cricket world cup is currently on, so its about time I talked about cricket. The cricket world cup has actually been on for about a month now, but there is still another two weeks to go so I have plenty of time. Possibly a little too much time.

Hashim Amla had a five o'clock shadow at the start of the World Cup
What I have been thinking about a lot lately, is the UDRS or the Umpire Decision Review system, which is basically a challenge system for the players to challenge an Umpires decision using technology available. It is a good idea in theory, and does show that the ICC is a little more forward thinking than FIFA when it comes to using technology.

FIFA committee on use of Technology
Basically each team gets two unsuccessful challenges per innings per match, the system was designed to stop howling decisions affecting the outcome of the game, i.e someone being given out when they are not, or being given not out when they are.
I like this system but there are a couple of things that I don't quite get.

1/. LBW decisions

When it comes to LBW decisions there are a lot of factors coming into play, and it is testament to the Umpires that they get so many of these decisions right. The ball can't be pitching on leg, the impact must be inline, and you should think the ball would have hit the stumps if not for the batsmens leg.
Sometimes they get it wrong, and this is where UDRS comes into play, it tracks the ball for the actual flight and then simulates the remaining journey to see if the ball would hit the stumps.

UDRS in action

The reason it has a large box saying NOT OUT is because how much faith that is put in the technology depends on the umpires orginal decision. If the umpire said the batsmen was not out, and the fielding team appeals this, then more than half the ball needs to be hitting the stumps to overturn the decision, if on the other hand the umpire said the batsmen was out, and the batting team appeals, only a edge of the ball needs to be hitting the stumps for original out to be upheld.

"I told you, you were out, you Son of a B***h"
Now I understand the reason for this is to give the umpire the benefit of the doubt, but too me you either say the technology is unfallible enough that if the ball just touches the stumps the batsmen is out regardless of who asks, or you say that the technology is not accurate, in which case the more then half of the ball rule should stand for both sides asking.

 Mark Boucher,I hate that guy use the half the ball rule.

And to me, sometimes too much faith is put in the technology, if the ball hits the batsmens pad close to immediately after the ball pitches surely there is not enough information to accurately predict the path. How does the technology take into account hardness of pitch, foot marks, softness of ball?

In some situations it would be more accurate to use this lady to make the decision.
2/. Excessive appealing 

The second thing that gets me, is one of the reasons to implement UDRS was to avoid excessive appealing, where by a player will appeal at anything even if he has no faith at all the batsmen is actually out.

I think the closer you get your arse to the ground the more you think the batsmen is out
The thing is we still see the situation were the fielding team will vehemently appeal a decision, and it will be given not out, but then they don't challenge. Basically what they are saying is I didn't actually think the batsmen was out, I was just trying it on.

"We almost had you that time"
I propose there should be an amendment to the UDRS rules if your orginal appeal last longer than 10 seconds, or louder than 110 db, or your arse touches the ground during the appeal, you automatically use one of your challenges. This way you only get players appealing this strongly when they actually think the batsmen is out.

3/. It is designed to stop howlers not benefit of doubt

The third thing that bugs me about the UDRS is it was introduced to reduce the number of howler decisions made on the field. So if a batsmen hits the covers of the ball into his pads he won't be given out LBW, or if there is a clear edge missed by the umpire the batsmen is correctly given out. For example the below video was orginally not given out on the field.

The problem is with having 2 challenges, players will tend to use at least one of the decisions, on a whim and potentially they will get it going in their favour, but only slightly. So the umpire was wrong, but within a reasonable human error, the ball was pitching half a mm outside leg, so the batsmen gets to stay in. I am sure some of the times the batsmen appeals not because he thinks he is not out, but more he is hoping he is not out. Perhaps the answer here is to reduce the number of unsuccessful challenges to 1, this way, the challenge will only be taken when the player is sure they are wronged and not on the off chance that they were.

Dar: "You actually want to challenge?"
Ponting: "Yeah why not mate, give it a nugde"
But they are my thoughts on UDRS, let me know what you think?


  1. I like the system. I remember it got reduced from 3 chances when NZ were playing West Indies here before it got formally adopted, because it was taking so long because it was a marginal call. They seem to have fixed that now where original decision stands if it's not clear.

    I'm happy with 2 or 3. 1 would seem to be pointless, as the team should be able to appeal marginal calls where they think it's real close, rather than just the howlers.

    And if you used your one and lost it, then a howler later in the innings you couldn't do anything about.

  2. Yeah I guess I still have one foot in the traditional camp then, where if it is not clear than you go with what the umpire says. I.e pitching half outside the line.. shouldn't be referred.

    But if you smash the leather off the ball into your pads and get given out lbw that should be reversed. But yeah I guess 2 isn't so bad.


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