Virat Kohli has been the most high-profile player to question cricket’s Decision Review System, otherwise known as DRS. Naturally, when a player of Kohli’s reputation becomes vocal about his thoughts with regards to the technology, the spotlight then shines a lot brighter on what its purpose should be. Before we assess the credibility of Kohli’s claims, let’s first look at what DRS is meant to do.
DRS in a nutshell
The best place to start is perhaps by looking at the ICC’s official description of what its system is designed to do. Indeed, the governing body of the international game suggests that DRS is a “technology-based process for assisting the match officials with their decision-making.”
Essentially, the on-field umpires can consult with the third umpire who is operating the DRS in order to come to a decision or the players can request DRS in a bid to overturn an on-field decision. Like VAR in football, it has been created so that it can stamp out a clear and obvious error. However, unlike football, it is used to determine whether an outcome would have happened by using Hawk-Eye software.
It’s not quite the balance of probability but it’s also not that far off which, as you can imagine, leads to some indignant responses when decisions go against teams. It is, of course, these decisions from Hawk-Eye that, a lot of the time, ultimately determine whether a team wins or loses. Indeed, cricket is a fast-paced game that changes dramatically during the fall of wickets. You only need to look at the latest online cricket odds from the in-play market to get a better idea of how much the price on specific teams winning can all of a sudden fluctuate owing to the fall of wickets. This trend can be observed in any format whether it is the FedEx Caribbean Premier League, IPL, Big Bash League, Tests, or ODIs. Wickets change games, and essentially, DRS is the gatekeeper to teams being awarded them. With this in mind, you can see how crucial it is that DRS works accurately and above all consistently.
It is at this point of the article that we can return to Kohli’s comments that were made in South Africa when he accused the DRS system of working in favour of Proteas. In short, Kohli suggested that DRS was being operated by the national sports broadcaster Supersport.
King Kohli runs hot under the collar
It should be stressed that this claim can be categorically dismissed given that as mentioned, Hawk-Eye is a privately owned American company without a horse in the race. The long and short of it is that the companies broadcasting the cricket have no say in how the technology comes to the decision it does. Now, anyone who has watched live cricket streaming when Kohli plays will know how much of a competitor the Indian batsman is. Without a doubt, the 33-year-old wears his heart on his sleeve which can, at times, see him caught up in the heat of battle.
On this occasion, Kohli’s comments may have been wide off the mark but at the same time, you can understand how frustrating it is when the technology goes against your team. However, like all advancements in the tech category, you would have to conclude that DRS does more good than it does bad. In fact, a closer look at the numbers shows that this technology has often worked as a reliable safety net.
There’s no going back now
At least, it’s unimaginable to consider where the game would be without DRS. Another way to look at it is that as of the end of 2020, 906 decisions had been overturned since 2011 out of a total of 3369. Ironically, these stats illustrate that the umpires are getting the majority of the decisions right whilst also proving how important DRS is in the modern game.
Wherever you sit on the DRS debate that is always rumbling away in the online sports news pages, the inescapable reality is that a future without this technology would turn cricket into the Wild West. Simply put, the integrity of the game relies on DRS and so far, this system has made cricket a contest that is a lot fairer.