Monday, August 29, 2011

Hot Spot–It’s not so hot!!

Marathon effort ended on a sour note!!
It was the last ball of the 13th over of India’s second innings. Rahul Dravid was up against England spinner Graeme Swann. Dravid all day long had negotiated the turn and bounce from Graeme Swann quite brilliantly but finally faultered in the ultimate delivery of  his fourth over. The ball spun back from outside off stump, and passed very, very close to the bat before going onto pad and looping to Cook who palmed it with one hand and collected the catch. The catch was claimed in unison by the English players but on field umpire didn’t look too interested in that and hence it was ruled not out. The England skipper Andrew Strauss thought otherwise and asked for a referral. The dismissal was then referred to the third umpire Steve  Davies under the DRS referral system –Lo and Behold, Dravid was adjudged caught at short-leg of Swann and with it the third umpire set the ball rolling for another debate on the much anticipated Hot Spot and DRS system.
The debate then shifted to the social platform ”TWITTER” where cricket fans and experts had an opinion of their own. There are 3 ways to look at the issue:
  1. The English media men and fans thought that there was a slight deflection from a certain angle and Steve Davies was right in ruling Dravid out. Fair enough.
  2. The Indian contingent of fans and experts opined that there was no conclusive evidence for Steve Davies to rule Dravid out and hence he should have stayed with the on field call. Fair enough.
  3. And amongst the neutral, many thought that the right decision was ultimately reached but in a wrong way. That is Fair Enough.
So, all in all one would say that either way it was a marginal call. But as someone who has been following the game for a decade now, it is perhaps my duty to bring forth my stand on this issue. So here is what I think about the dismissal:
Well my first reaction to that in real time was ”It is out”! But on observing the replays in slow motion, one got the feeling that the ball had just missed the edge of the bat. The commentators on air said the body language of Dravid immediately after the appeal was not that inspiring and was suggesting that he had nicked it. I did not  feel anything like that. He just went back so that he could withdraw himself from the frame ,thats it. If ever this meant that a batsman has edged a ball, then we would have come across many bizarre dismissals in the past. Anyways, when a decision has been referred to the third umpire, what a batsman’s body language suggests or what the bowler thinks does not really matter– The decision lies in the hands of third umpire and he is the guy who has to come out with a judgement. Now, the referral was made under DRS and so it was pretty clear that the TV umpire had 2 parameters to work with–First see whether it was a legal delivery or not which it was and secondly use the much anticipated ” Hot Spot” and decide if there was a nick. That is where all the problem lies– Dravid in the post match interview says he thought he nicked it, England think he nicked it but the most important technology on which DRS is based i.e ”Hot-Spot” said that there was no edge there. Must say that it was a brave decision by Davies. What he did there was he went right against the technology and sent across a message that ” See the hot spot is not right, there was a nick and i saw it”. So even if the technology says its not out, i say thats out. I really didn’t understand why he did that. His responsibility as the third umpire, once a particular decision has been made by the on-field umpires and has been challenged, is to survey all the evidence that is provided to him within the confines of the DRS. I repeat this again, this was a decision made by the on field umpire and challenged by the English team. As a match official, you need to go by whats at your disposal and if you are going to adjudge a dismissal based on your own parameters, then why have DRS in the first instance?
The ball actually deviated from its path quite a bit as it passed the willow and Davies thinks that there was a slight nick–so slight that even Hot Spot couldn’t pick it up. The ball  must have actually deviated because of the turn that the wicket was offering. It pitched and turned viciously but not for once from those slow-mo replays, snickos and the audio feed from the stump microphone, i felt that there was an inside nick and to be honest if Davies thinks that the ball actually deviated because there was a thin nick, then let me tell you that i have never really seen a ball deviate so much because of a faint edge.
In a nutshell, when an on field umpire’s decision is challenged via DRS, the third umpire needs to confirm whether the right judgement has been made using all the technology that is there at his disposal and if he wishes to overturn it then there has to be enough overwhelming evidence for that. The DRS was meant to eliminate howlers, and not rule on marginal calls. Where marginal calls are involved, the ground umpire’s decision should be taken as the final one.
I spot No Hot Spot!!!
How this decision affects the state of the match remains to be seen. With BCCI approving the usage of DRS in the home games, there will indeed be plenty to talk about the Hot Spot and it’s credibility on the Indian wickets where the ball turns and bounces. It will indeed be a litmus test for UDRS.
Avi for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Avi on Twitter @KnightsDen

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