Someone on the Caribbean Cricket.com website referred to the name Ryan Hinds in what appeared to be a memorandum of failed West Indian international cricketers. The reference reminded me of what might have been one of Hinds` last test matches for a West Indies team without striking or banned players, the potential impact of umpiring errors, and the ICC`s refusal to make public its reasons for not making the Decision Review System (DRS) unlimited.
I believe the test match was the first of two on Sri Lanka`s tour to the West Indies in 2008. It was played in Guyana. In chasing a score of over 300 in the 4th innings Sarwan, Hinds and Benn were given out through umpiring errors. W.I. lost the match, Sarwan was too good to be affected by his failure, Benn remained on and off the West Indies team, but Hinds never again played for the No.1 W.I. team. I am reasonably, but not completely, certain of this history, which is not absolutely essential to my argument. The Hinds error pretty well ended his test career, the errors contributed significantly to West Indies drawing rather than winning the series, and the errors were avoidable.
The new ICC rules have modified the DRS system in some useful ways, but has not budged a lot on the issue of its limitation. By introducing one review in T20 they have finally acknowledged the obvious, that it is just as important to get umpiring decisions right in twenty over games as it is in five-day games. The problem started with this idea of using the system only for “howlers”, notwithstanding the obvious difficulty in defining precisely that concept. We can agree that there are degrees of error, but we can also agree that technology is considerably better for deciphering errors whether major or minor, than are the eyes and ears.
The ICC has not given reasons for its refusal to make reviews unlimited, because the one argument to support that position is that removing limitations would unreasonably increase the time necessary to complete a game, both because of the potential for abuse, and the natural time consuming nature of reviews. This argument can very easily be tested over a period of time. What is more there are many time wasting practices in the game that can be eliminated to accommodate the removal of DRS limitations, and in so far as the abuse issue is concerned a system of penalties can be introduced without very much angst.
There are few things more annoying in cricket than to see a batsman piling up runs after he has been in fact, if not in cricket law, out, or to see a good batsman sitting on the benches after he has been mistakenly given out. We have the technology. Let`s use it to get the decisions right. Careers and reputations and money are at stake. Let`s do the right thing. At a minimum give us the reasons for the decision so we could address them.