Indians' collective gut feeling not working in referrals

Updated: Dec 08, 2016, 11:55 IST | Shishir Hattangadi

The Umpire Decision Review System (DRS) is a new feature for the Indian team. If there is one area they are struggling at, on the field of play, it is the judicious use of this new technology

Virat Kohli signals for a referral during the Vizag Test. Pic/PTI
Virat Kohli signals for a referral during the Vizag Test. Pic/PTI

Operating a new gizmo is exciting. The features, the applications innovations are all a part of the learning process.

The Umpire Decision Review System (DRS) is a new feature for the Indian team. If there is one area they are struggling at, on the field of play, it is the judicious use of this new technology. This is the age-old beast of the game. Batsmen and bowlers have reason to believe they get the rough side of the rhubarb. Modern cricket is no different. Thankfully, some behavioural patterns don’t change despite technological introductions to the game.

India appear to be making mistakes in the use of technology. It may come from a belief that they have their man or just a streak of wishful thinking, especially when one is bowling.

Best seat in the house
General consensus is that the major decision-makers in the use of a referral ought to be the bowler, wicketkeeper and maybe the first slip fielder, since they have the best seat in the house but in India’s case it appears a collective ‘gut feel’ thing.

Any team sport has a system of empowerment. We have seen that in the process of ‘ball management’, ever since reverse swing became a part of modern-day cricket. It is within the framework of the rules, but handled by an individual who is a specialist at working diligently on the ball. Joe Root wears an inner skin that has longer sleeves to make his workload that much easier.

Cricket has moved on from Vaseline and beverage bottle caps days. The modern game is about identifying the best man for a job. Ball management like the use of the DRS has evolved as an integral part of team strategy. The best way to learn is through the mistakes one makes, but the earlier the learning, the quicker the improvements.

Too many cooks?
India seem to be getting the use of referrals wrong more often than not. It could be they have no one empowered to take the first call or it could be a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

Going forward, India will have to put a system in place in order to make it worthwhile going in for a referral. It is now part and parcel of the game and a strategy or risks taken will have to be evaluated. Test matches can turn the other way if you have no referrals in the bank. One needs to be vigilant, judicious and smart in picking one’s options.

It is an introspective angle where one can look too deep into a player’s selflessness or selfishness. It will be absorbing to watch how Team India adapts to this new gizmo.

The team is always bigger than an individual and personal demeanours have no place for debate here. Thankfully, the guidelines of the rules are pretty much clear and no one can debate its authenticity anymore.

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