The dates of World Cricket committee meetings are written into the diary the best part of six months in advance, so it was by luck rather than judgement that this one came straight off the back of a Test where the spotlight shone on umpiring and the Decision Review System (DRS).
I read yesterday that the officials made 72 decisions at Trent Bridge compared to an average of 49, which gives an indication of what a challenging match it was. While there were some incorrect outcomes, DRS took the percentage of correct decisions up from 90% to more than 95%; those much-publicised errors should not muddy the waters – DRS is good for the game.
It was a shame that we could not on this occasion have had a greater spread of countries represented at the meeting – unfortunately, for a range of reasons, our Indian, Sri Lankan and West Indian members weren’t able to attend. But those present were unanimous in their approval of DRS.
One interesting point that was raised was the idea that umpires could be given a couple of reviews of their own if they had concerns about their decisions. There is a risk in such a move, because dissent might be increased as players attempt to influence umpires to review particular decisions. And I don’t think the whole system should be put into the umpires’ hands because some might review almost every decision, thus slowing the game down. Moreover, the current system works very well.
As a rule, I think ICC has developed DRS well by settling on two reviews per innings and keeping the notion of the umpire’s call as an important one – keeping the umpire’s judgement as a central part of the process. No doubt there will be further evolution of the details of the system over time.
Of course DRS casts the ICC’s role into sharp focus. It was good to have not just Dave Richardson (one of our regular members) but also ICC’s President Alan Isaac present on Monday morning, because one of the key issues in the game at the moment is ICC’s role and its struggle to strike the optimum balance between driving work on the likes of DRS and anti-corruption from the centre, and on the other hand delegating to member boards to do what they see fit.
It’s been a productive couple of days and now, like most of cricket lovers in this country, I’m looking forward to seeing how the second act plays out at Lord’s.