UDRS is about fine-tuning the game with quality umpiring

Former Manager Umpires of SLC, Ronnie Gunaratne elaborates...
By Naushad Amit

The Umpires Decision Referral System, or the UDRS as many recognize it, is the hot topic again with the dawn of the bilateral Test series between Sri Lanka and Australia. After a long experimental stage and going through many accolades as well as criticism, the International Cricket Council (ICC) recently made the UDRS mandatory at all international level matches.

Since 2009, all full member countries of ICC came up with positive responses while in contrast the Indian cricket authorities (BCCI) had their differences and even went to the extent of not using the UDRS. But with the recent call of the ICC even BCCI are obliged to take up the referral system at their matches.

“India unofficially controls the cricket world. Not making use of the UDRS at their international encounters is better known to them but the system from my point of view helps the game, players and the umpires at end of the day. The UDRS may not favour everyone at every given time but it certainly perfects the sport further,” the former Manager Umpires of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Ronnie Gunaratne elaborated.

The UDRS which is said to have been an adopted version from tennis was however perfected to suit with the backing of up-to-date technology. But there had been instances when legendary individuals such as Joel Garner and Dickie Bird had expressed their disapproval.

The UDRS system was first put to effect at the first Test at Dunedin between New Zealand and Pakistan in November 2009. But it was first tried and tested in Sri Lanka in a Test series against India who did not enjoy the experimental outing and were at the receiving end many a time. Since then India has been advocating against the UDRS.

“India too wants it but in certain quantities and at the same time they want certain areas reviewed. But I really don’t know why they are against it when other Test playing countries have given the ‘green light’ to carry on. Maybe their first hand experience against Sri Lanka is affecting them in a big way,” Gunaratne stressed.

According to Gunaratne who was removed from his contract by the former interim committee of SLC last June, UDRS only helps cricket reach great heights. When wrong calls are made Gunaratne said the UDRS helps the umpires to get a second life by correcting a mistake which could be critical according to the situation. At the same time players and teams get the opportunity of clearing any impending doubts that may remain for quite a while.

“When a decision is reviewed and corrected by UDRS everyone will forget it, as it is cleared for good. But if there were no reviews and when the television replays show that an umpire has made a wrong call, then he will have to live with it for the rest of his life. This in one way helps everyone as players too get a chance to clear doubts.”

Though the UDRS is meant to help the game in a big way, a heavy cost is involved in the process which uses a heavy load of television cameras. During the initiative days a minimum of 19 cameras, including the number of coverage cameras, were required to carry out UDRS. But presently a total of 27 cameras are used covering all possible dimensions during a match for UDRS. In addition the hosting country has to meet the cost of all the equipment and technology needed to conduct UDRS facilities. Sri Lanka too had to bear the extra burden during the initial stages but the SLC somehow managed to meet their expenses through other avenues, according to Gunaratne.

“The amount a hosting country has to spend on UDRS is far too expensive with other operating costs involved. For instance Sri Lanka had to spend US $ 100000 for the entire West Indies tour just before the ICC World Cup. But unlike other series SLC were to some extent were relieved by the ICC and Ten Sports. Sri Lanka had to cover 25 percent of the entire cost.”

“With the UDRS becoming mandatory nowadays countries could face financial slow downs but they can certainly attract sponsors for this as a team gets two review chances per innings. Whichever way it’s good to hear that all countries are adopting the UDRS,” Gunaratne went on to say.

The veteran cricketer who turned a planter and held directorial positions thinks that by asserting UDRS to the present system, a huge portion of pressure can be taken off the umpires who are at present under tremendous stress. Gunaratne’s views were endorsed by international umpire Billy Bowden who officiated the experimental series between Sri Lanka and India.

“From an umpires' point of view I embraced it, lived it and loved it. The effect was all positive for me but I wasn't surprised one iota. Why? Well, it gave me confidence to make good, strong umpiring decisions and I did not fall into the trap of relying on the DRS to bail me out. I was in control, relaxed and happy umpiring the Tests every day."I had two decisions reversed in my two Tests. I didn't lose confidence but instead felt good that the right decision was made. It also gave me strength to get back in the zone again and concentrate on the next ball knowing I wouldn't be criticized in the papers the next day.

ersonally, having the DRS trial was the best thing since sliced bread came into being,” Billy Bowden was quoted as saying after the inaugural Test of UDRS by an international news website in 2009.
Almost all the countries including India are running in to the system and UDRS is on the edge of becoming part of cricket within days or months. Gunaratne (63) who has immense experience in cricket as a player and official further said that the referral system will not to put anyone into shame or displeasure but an integral part of the game that will become an essential component of cricket.
“If you analyze human errors, they cannot be completely wiped out at any time. On the other hand if a team comes up with all the criteria which can benefit the sport.

There are chances when a team may lose both of their reviews and go on to have a bad day in the middle. It’s all about minimizing mistakes and clearing all doubts instantly with the help of modern day technology. It’s about fine-tuning the game to reach the level of playing as far as possible with good and quality umpiring,” the great campaigner of the system said.

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