I fail to understand the clamour and paranoia for the Umpires Decision Review System (UDRS). It is neither 100% accurate, nor foolproof. You can probably improve a decision or two with it and for such marginal gains one cannot spend so much money on one company.
You have to look at the economics. Every board is not making money out of Test matches and ODIs. The system requires about $60,000 per match.
Last year, about 65 Tests and 170 ODIs were played around the world. Multiply those numbers with $60,000. It would be a staggering amount for one or two decisions in a match. I see some vested interests working here. Unless there are 10 different technologies and they become competitive and cheaper, we cannot adopt.
A $1,000 a day should be fine. Not $60,000 a day.
That kind of money should go into the development of the game among the associate members. Cricket has survived for so long without the help of technology. If you look back, there were a whole lot of Pakistan umpires. The game has survived still. You have to see at what cost the technology comes.
Football is 10 times more popular than cricket and FIFA is 10 times richer than the ICC. Yet, they are not using the goal-line cameras. We heard of horrendous errors in the football World Cup and yet FIFA has not embraced the technology. The human element cannot be eliminated from the game. It has to be part and parcel of any sport. Always.
The UDRS cannot be used for the whole game. You can review two or three decisions in an innings. If a team exhausts its options in the very first over, what happens then? For the rest of the innings, the team has to live without the system. If you can’t have the system for the whole match, what is the use?
If you want to use the technology throughout the match, then the game will never finish because the batsmen and bowlers will go on appealing. If there is a restriction, it won’t justify the cost. Only the first few batsmen get the advantage. The others don’t. Where is the fairness?
The ICC can come up with such technology because the money is not going from its coffers. The member boards have to pay for it. There might be some matches in the world where the money coming in from the ticket collection will be less than the amount spent on UDRS.
Even the accuracy level of the system is suspect. I’m told that the accuracy of the system has gone up to 97% from 92%. It is not 100 per cent still. I cannot fathom so much money spent for so little returns. I strongly defend the stand taken by the BCCI.
The BCCI president has come up with right explanation. It is the imagination of one technology versus the imagination of the umpire. They have to prove on what basis the tracking is going on, because every square centimetre of the pitch is different. If there is a human error, take the umpire to task.
You may ask me why we are not agreeing to the use of technology for our overseas series. It is because of our policy of consistency. We can’t have it when we travel and not have it, when we host matches.
I know the ICC cricket committee has recommended its implementation. But one should take note of the number of times they change the laws of the game. You see how many times the rules were changed in football and other popular games. You have to be consistent because the law has to be there in the public mind for a long time. The public get confused if you change the laws for the sake of changing.
(Niranjan Shah is a vice-president of the BCCI. He spoke to Vijay Tagore)