Monday, 30 January 2012

Maybe it's a sign I'm getting old, but...

I'm not so keen on the DRS - Decision Review System - or as it might otherwise be known, Decisions Rather Sketchy...

I have no issues in its use for determining whether a catch has been clean and a fielder got his hand under it before it touched the ground. I have none whatsoever in its use in determining whether a run out has been effected. In both cases, I would qualify that by saying that in cases of doubt the benefit should always go to the batsman, however.

What I am increasingly concerned about is its use in deciding on lbw decisions. In the last Test between England and Pakistan there were SIXTEEN lbw dismissals and at least two of them - Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen - were very unfortunate. The ball, according to replays, might just have clipped the top of the bails, at least according to the computer programme, Hawkeye.

But would it? Will a cricket ball, having hit the ground at a certain pace on a wicket, always behave the same? Might it not bounce more, or less on some wickets than others? Swing a little late, lose a little pace, react to the variations in humidity and breeze? I'm not sure how these could all be factored into the likely trajectory of a cricket ball on a specific pitch, rather than being of a generic, one size fits all nature. Even wickets on the same square can behave differently, leaving batsmen increasingly at the mercy of a computer programme, rather than the common sense of an umpire. What this means, of course, is that we are seeing less merit in batsmen leading with their pad, or bat and pad, as we are increasingly seeing them given out under DRS.

Which is why our young stars are currently batting in India without pads on, trusting in their bat and the use of soft hands to combat the spinning ball, rather more than might have been the case a year or two back. It is not a new technique, of course. Thirty years ago, the stylish and brilliant Pakistan batsman Majid Khan  incurred the wrath of his team mates at Glamorgan by saying that footwork was not important against spin, just a good eye, coupled with the correct use of the hands in not "pushing" at the ball. His team mates shouted him down but Majid told them he would go out to the square and show them what he meant on the track where they had just won by some distance.

Facing the not inconsiderable talents of Don Shepherd and Peter Walker, Majid stayed rooted to the crease, yet gave no chance to the close field of team mates around him. He then used the edge of his bat only, to further illustrate that a real batsman needed very little else.

That's fine and dandy when you're as mercurial a talent as Majid, one of the most graceful batsmen of my experience, but I wouldn't recommend no footwork and a bat edge to all but the very best. Yet all batsmen are going to have to address the way they play the turning ball with the increased use of DRS, the greater likelihood of an lbw and the pressure on umpires.

I was not surprised to see Paul Borrington thrived in Pune. You will recall from the Oval last September that Borrington was the one player in two innings who worked out how to play Ojha. Unsurprisingly, it was by using soft hands and his bat, further evidence of a young batsman with an above average technique sprinkled with a modicum of common sense.

With or without cameras present, with six men round a bat constantly appealing, sooner or later a batsman will find his luck run out. At least, in using his bat he might feel less aggrieved in being dismissed legitimately.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

DRS was introduced to avoid some of the howlers that happened before , trouble is now the umpires have less of a tendency to give batsemen the benefit of the doubt because they have seen that DRS invariably backs up their OUT decisions.