Umpire Daryl Harper gets into slam-bang mode

Jul 22, 2013, 01:39 IST | Bipin Dani

Former ICC elite panel umpire from Australia talks about flaws in DRS, Stuart Broad, the ICC and BCCI's 'right stand'

Daryl HarperThis (Decision Review) system has been in use and developing for over five years.

And yet, it constantly causes consternation and doubt from all sides. 

 If your child had shown similar progress (as the DRS) in the same five-year period at school, you, as a responsible parent, would be finding another school for your child.

It’s a no-brainer!
Let’s be honest: How many people have been convinced that the ball tracking accuracy is as good as the experts claim it to be? It must be a minority, surely.

When Graeme Swann appealed for lbw against Phil Hughes on the final day of the Trent Bridge Test, the batsman’s fate was determined by the Hawk Eye system.

It depicted at least marginally 50% of the ball as pitching on the mat. It was a matter of the width of a line of stitching on the ball… surely down to a millimetre or two. Nasser Hussain was delighted.

Jonathan Trott
England’s Jonathan Trott (right) waits for his referral decision with captain Alastair Cook in Nottingham recently. Trott was given lbw despite edging the ball. The Hot Spot camera missed Trott’s wicket as it was replaying Joe Root’s exit a ball earlier. The Hot Spot inventor later apologised. PIC/Getty Images

When Michael Holding queried the system, an overhead shot was played to confirm Hussain’s assertion. This time, the ball was shown from above to have at least 70% in the zone.

How did it increase from just 50% to approximately 70%? That would equate to a movement of the ball’s position by about 15 millimetres!

How did they create that overhead shot? There were no cameras on wires above the ground and the cameraman in the cherry picker had surely not leaned that far forward.

Ah yes... the viewers are gullible. They’ll accept anything that a commentator tells them.

Stuart Broad
Stuart Broad

Firstly, you must remember that it is a system operated by humans. Sometimes they forget to reset the system as in the Jonathan Trott dismissal.

Sometimes, they simply replay the wrong delivery to the third umpire as occurred more than once in the 2011 World Cup.

At that competition, there was no allowance for error factored into the calculations. I had to reverse a decision like the Hughes one because I was wrong by one half of one millimetre. That was the explanation provided to me by Steve Carter, Hawk Eye’s chief man at that time.

Dar is not bad
Aleem Dar is not a bad umpire. He just made a bad decision with Stuart Broad. Can anyone declare that they haven’t lost focus for a moment at work recently… on any day… in any hour? Aleem was at work, but he lost the plot for a moment.

His is still one of the best umpires going around. And I am still waiting to see which Indian umpire is good enough to replace the last Indian on the Elite Panel.

Aleem Dar
Aleem Dar

His name was Venkat and he disappeared from the panel in 2006 before the newest generation of cricket followers were even born!

If Stuart Broad thinks that being caught at first slip and defying the umpire to give him out, is the way to play the game, then how sad is he? So he is prepared to win at all costs.

Forget the spirit of cricket. It apparently only applies at lower levels. How sad for him personally to believe that his actions were fair. I know my father didn’t set that sort of an example for little Daryl to follow.

If we are doomed to see this system in use, and we are, can you imagine any TV executive who wasn’t licking his lips as the ratings metres must have been stretching the limits? Then how can we overcome one of the chief flaws?

If the system was introduced to overcome the howlers, then don’t prevent the umpires from saving face when the howler invariably comes. To be quite frank, it doesn’t really matter much who umpires a Test match today… until a team exhausts its reviews.

Until then, any decisions can be reviewed and any number of errors righted. But once Australia frittered its reviews away with poor judgement, then the door was opened for a howler and Stuart Broad’s non-dismissal was a howler.

If the reviews were taken out of the players’ hands and given to the umpires, what would be the result?

In the short term, umpires would review far too many calls and the game could be delayed unnecessarily.

There would be a period of adjustment. Eventually, the stronger performing umpires would emerge and be identified by having the least number of reviewed decisions. In the third umpire’s chair, a full-time television umpiring analyst would act swiftly without fear or favour.

At the moment, most third umpires operate with the TV commentary running so as not to be surprised by any observations made by the former Test captains’ club members.

That is usually forced upon them by the ICC Match Referee who doesn’t want to be blind-sided by a comment from one of his former adversaries in the
commentary box.

It was disappointing that the final decision in the Trent Bridge Test was conveyed to us by a commentator before the third umpire could complete his duties operating through the on-field umpire.

Clearly, the commentators had access to the umpire’s thinking and his conversation. Is this a desirable situation? Do we need a third umpire at all?

BCCI’s right
For the sake of the game and not for the sake of the ratings, let’s see some quality management decision-making from ICC. Either hand the review controls to the umpires or we’ll just have to take it on the chin with this flawed system that resembles a dog’s breakfast.

Despite rumours to the contrary, I support India. Believe it or not! The BCCI has steadfastly maintained that it is not interested in using the DRS until it is perfect. Guess what? It never will be perfect, despite the claims of the financially involved parties.

Fancy anyone doubting the accuracy of the system? What impudence! At the 2011 ICC World Cup, we umpires gathered a collection of more than a dozen instances where the pitch tracking and trajectory prediction cartoons just did not mesh with reality.

Come on ICC! It looks like another occasion where you resemble a hive of inactivity.

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