The Decision Review System (DRS) has transformed decision-making and controversy around dismissals in professional cricket. This in-depth guide explains what the DRS is, how it works, the rules around using reviews, and its impact on the sport. Read on for an insider perspective on this game-changing innovation!

What is the DRS in Cricket?

DRS stands for ‘Decision Review System’. It is a technology-based system that allows teams to review major on-field decisions made by the umpires, primarily related to dismissals.

The key components of DRS are:

  • Ball-tracking technology – predicts whether the ball would have hit the stumps for lbw shouts.
  • Snickometer – detects fine edges off the bat to judge caught-behind appeals.
  • Slow motion replays – from various camera angles to study the incident.
  • Hot Spot cameras – uses infra-red imaging to identify contact between ball and bat/pad.
  • On-field call reviews – teams can query umpiring decisions and trigger the review process.

So in essence, DRS empowers teams to get clarity on tight calls using advanced technology and replays with the on-field umpire’s decision as a reference point.

Why Was DRS ( Decision Review System ) Introduced in Cricket?

DRS was introduced in 2008 to improve the accuracy of decision-making in cricket. Reasons it was brought in include:

  • Human umpires inevitably make some errors, affecting games. DRS aims to minimize mistakes.
  • Very tight lbw and caught-behind calls were almost impossible for umpires to always get right.
  • TV replays and new technologies could accurately track the ball and detect edges.
  • Poor decisions were tarnishing major matches and series unfairly.
  • Fans and players demanded the use of available technology for fairness.

So DRS provides umpires with a safety net on their closest calls. The ICC hoped it would demolish clear mistakes and controversial dismissals from the game.

How Does the DRS Work in Cricket?

Here is the step-by-step process when a team requests a DRS review of an on-field umpiring decision:

  • The fielding team appeals a dismissal (usually lbw or caught behind).
  • The on-field umpire judges the batter is not out.
  • The fielding captain signals for a DRS review within 15 seconds.
  • The third umpire checks technology replays with ball tracking, Hot Spot, Snicko etc.
  • If evidence shows the on-field call was incorrect, the third umpire overturns the decision.
  • If the technology is inconclusive, the third umpire upholds the on-field call.
  • The third umpire communicates their final decision to return to the on-field umpire.

So the third umpire essentially re-judges the incident via technology before making the final decision.

How Many DRS Reviews Does Each Team Get in Cricket?

The number of unsuccessful reviews allotted to each team per innings in major international cricket matches are:

  • Test Matches: Three unsuccessful reviews per team per innings.
  • ODI Matches: One unsuccessful review per team. Two reviews are allowed once 80 overs have been bowled.
  • T20 Internationals: One unsuccessful review per team. Two reviews are allowed after the 10th over.

Teams risk wasting their review quota by making speculative challenges. Using reviews wisely at key moments is an art. Running out of reviews can cost teams later if they miss a poor decision that cannot be challenged.

What is the Umpire Call in DRS Reviews?

‘Umpire’s Call’ relates to lbw reviews where the ball-tracking technology indicates the on-field call was very close.

For lbw appeals, if ball tracking shows the ball just clipping the stumps or missing by a tiny margin, then the third umpire sticks with the on-field call under Umpire’s Call. This gives the benefit of doubt to the umpire’s original decision for marginal calls.

Umpire’s Call is designed to preserve the on-field umpire’s authority when technology cannot conclusively prove their initial decision wrong. It avoids repeated reversals on microscopic margins.

What are the Key Benefits of Using DRS in Cricket?

DRS has had several positive impacts on cricket:

  • Far fewer clear umpiring mistakes now influence match results unfairly.
  • Teams have recourse to challenge poor decisions instead of feeling aggrieved.
  • Tight lbw and caught behind calls are judged more accurately via technology.
  • Umpire reputations do not suffer from inevitable occasional errors.
  • Players and fans have more trust and confidence in the fairness of outcomes.
  • Match officials embrace technology assistance to increase their decision accuracy.

So DRS has overturned the obvious howlers, while tightly backing the umpires on borderline calls. This strikes the right balance of evolving while preserving on-field authority.

What Concerns Exist Around the Use of DRS in Cricket?

While mostly welcomed, some concerns raised about DRS are:

  • The LBW predictive ball-tracking is not 100% precise and reliable yet.
  • ‘Umpire’s Call’ creates confusion over extremely close calls.
  • Misuse of reviews when teams are desperate and basesless.
  • Over-reliance on technology when human discretion still valuable.
  • Concept of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ signals from on-field umpires is contentious.
  • Snickometer and Hot Spot not foolproof for faint edges.

So DRS requires constant refinement as technology improves. But it provides far more benefits than drawbacks in making the game fairer.

Major DRS Controversies That Shaped Cricket

Like any innovation, DRS has produced some controversies before the process was refined:

  • 2007 ODI World Cup exit for India – several poor decisions cost India a semi-final spot, catalyzing DRS adoption.
  • 2011 England tour of India – DRS caused a diplomatic row between boards over umpire authority.
  • Ashes 2013-14 – Australia were denied DRS reviews for a large chunk of play due to technical failures.
  • World Cup 2019 Final – DRS awarded England 6 runs from overthrows in the decisive moment against New Zealand

These incidents ensured teething problems with technology or processes were resolved over time. DRS is not controversy-free, but it has increased fairness markedly.

Conclusion – An Imperfect But Essential Innovation

DRS has given players and fans cause to embrace, not resist, technology in cricket. While reviews are occasionally misused and technology like ball-tracking requires fine-tuning, DRS has greatly build up trust and minimized egregious umpiring errors.

DRS balances human discretion and technology, preserving umpiring art while eliminating mistakes. Overall, it has made cricket’s big moments fairer and more accurate. The spirit of cricket is upheld when the right decisions ultimately prevail.

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