LBW has been one of the most controversial elements in cricket over the years. But with the rise of technology in the Modern era, ICC decided to use technology to redefine LBW with the introduction of the Decision Review System (DRS).
As it is with all technology, DRS Review wasn’t an instant hit. It had an obvious error margin and made fans furious about it. Thus, ICC again shifted the onus to the on-field umpires, introducing ‘Umpire’s Call’.
This made DRS much better and useful in Cricket. However, there are still doubts and confusion about Umpire’s Call in DRS Review. Thus, we will explain to you in detail how it affects decision making in Cricket.
Explained – What is DRS in Cricket
DRS stands for Decision Review System. It is a technology-based system designed to help Umpires to improve decision making. In simpler terms, Decision Review System is called upon to make the right decision with transparency. For example, if the bowler or batsman isn’t satisfied with the on-field decision, they can opt for a DRS review.
Now, the third umpire would use the DRS system to make the correct decision. The DRS system would be displaced live on the big screen for everyone to see. DRS in ODI cricket was first used in a One Day International (ODI) in January 2011 during England’s tour of Australia. While DRS in test cricket was introduced in July 2008 in India’s Test series in Sri Lanka.
As mentioned above, DRS had some issue in its initial phase. Many teams, including India, opposed DRS until it was fixed and ready to use. The DRS review system has gone through some changes to justice existing cricket rules and be transparent in its decision making.
DRS Review Process for LBW Decisions
Now, let’s understand the DRS Review Process for LBW Decision. This will later help us understand Umpire’s call.
Imagine a bowler runs in and bowls a ball that hit the batsman pad—the fielding team appeal to the umpire. Now, two things can happen. Either the umpire can give the batsman out or deny the appeal.
Suppose the batsman or the fielding side isn’t happy with the on-field umpire decision. They can opt for a DRS review. Now, the third umpire will go through a pre-defined set of instructions to make the right decision.
Checking No Ball: The third umpire begins to check if the delivery is legitimate and not a no-ball for any reason.
Checking for contact with the bat: Next, the third umpire checks for a contact of the ball with the bat. They may use Hotspot, Snicko or Ultra Edge, depending on what is available. If there is bat is involved before hitting the pad, it is given out; otherwise, the third umpire proceeds forward.
Checking the ball trajectory: Now, we know it is a legal delivery, and no bat is involved, then the Hawkeye is used to check the ball trajectory. In this process, LBW is judged on three parameters.
- Pitching: If the ball is pitched in line or on off-side of the line?
- Impact: When the ball hit the pad, was the pad in line?
- Wickets: Was the ball going to hit the wickets if not for the pad as per Hawkeye’s prediction?
If the answer to these questions is Yes or in Red. Then, the batsman is given out by the third umpire. While if even a single answer to these questions is No or in Green. The batsman is judged not out. This is the entire DRS Review Process for LBW Decisions.
So, when is Umpire’s Call considered?
The ball trajectory method is just a prediction using Hawkeye projection. Thus, there is an error margin in this process. So, when Hawkeye projection doesn’t have conclusive evidence on any of those above questions, we have an Umpire’s Call.
If the technology can’t provide a conclusive verdict, the third umpire has to stay with the on-field decision. Thus, the on-field umpire takes precedence in case of doubt in DRS review.
What’s Umpire’s Call on Ball Pitching, Impact, and Hitting the Wickets?
Let’s begin with Umpire’s Call on Ball pitching. Now, for a batsman to be given out for LBW, the ball must pitch in line with the wicket or outside off stump. If it pitched outside the line on the side, it is not out.
If the technology can’t decide if the ball is pitched in line or outside off stump, DRS Review System goes with Umpire’s Call. Hence, if the umpire has given not out, then not out or vice versa.
The Umpire’s Call on impact is similar to Pitching. If the technology cannot decide if the impact is inline between the wickets, then Umpire’s Call is signalled, and an On-field decision prevails.
The Umpire’s Call on Wicket is a bit tricky and controversial. This is where people are divided on DRS new rules. So, if Hawkeye projection shows that a minor portion of the ball would hit the stumps. Then, we refer to the umpire’s Call.
You may ask why we need Umpire’s Call as Hawkeye shows the ball is hitting the stump. However, we forget this projection is just a prediction and not a hundred per cent correct. Thus, to even out the error margin, we use the on-Field umpire decision.
This is because the On-Field Umpire traditionally governs cricket. They should have the final say if technology is in doubt.
Can a DRS Review be Retained?
When a fielding or a batting side takes a DRS review. There are two results, the result goes in their favour, or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t go in their favour, then the DRS review is lost. However, if the decision is Umpire’s Call, then DRS is retained. This is because a team can’t be punished for technology inaccuracy.
Currently, there are 2 DRS in Test Cricket in each innings and 1 DRS in ODI cricket. Due to COVID-19 and the use of home umpires, an extra review is given in both Tests and ODIs.
Rules and History of Umpire’s Call
In its early day, a team would lose its DRS in test cricket if Umpire’s Call is used in making the decision. The two DRS reviews would also get replenished after 80 overs. ICC then changed the rules that a team won’t lose a review if Umpire’s Call is used in making the final decision. Also, they restricted two DRS reviews per innings in Test matches.
Early, Umpire’s call was displayed if the centre of the ball is hitting only half or less than half of the stump. So, in many situations, Umpire’s Call was considered if the ball hit the stump and bail in half. This resulted in Batsman given not out.
Recently, ICC modified DRS new rules. Now, the Umpire’s Call would be considered on the Off and leg stumps’ outer edges. A less portion of the ball needs to hit the wicket for the batsman to be given out in simple terms. This rule change actually favours the bowler.