India suffering from the ghosts of 2008
India it seems is still suffering from the ghosts of the 2008 tour of Sri Lanka where they struggled with the UDRS (Umpires Decision Review System) getting only one review right while the home country successfully challenged 11 decisions. That was the only series India has used the UDRS and since that experience the Indians and their Cricket Board have been totally against it although the ICC have approved its use in principle during the 2011 World Cup where India is one of the three host countries – Sri Lanka and Bangladesh being the other two.
The UDRS has been used in Australia, South Africa, England, New Zealand and West Indies and has found favour with several captains and players. The on-going Test series in South Africa sees India once again opposed to the UDRS although the host country is keen. This has been the case always even when India toured Sri Lanka in July-August of this year. Kumar Sangakkara the Sri Lankan captain was keen to have the UDRS but with India opposing it there was no way the referral could be used during the series. For the referral to be used both countries had to agree to the system. South Africa has used the UDRS in other home series, most recently against England in 2009-10.

Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain said in October that the UDRS needed to be implemented consistently and that technology was the way forward in cricket. “I think if the UDRS is going to be successful it needs to be implemented properly by the ICC and not on a 50-50 basis like we have seen so far,” he said. “It must be used all of the time and not for selective series’ like we see now.”
India also refused the UDRS in their recently concluded series at home against New Zealand with skipper MS Dhoni calling for the standard of on-field umpiring to be improved instead.
The ICC has a major issue on its hands in trying to convince India to follow other countries and use the UDRS. As the world governing body for the sport it cannot have one set of rules for one country and another for the rest. One hitch in the UDRS is that it should be consistent when it is in use in all countries. At the moment the ‘hot spot’ which is so vital in determining an edge off the bat or the point of impact on the pad in relation to the wicket is not available in most countries Sri Lanka included. That way India is right in refusing to use the UDRS because there is no consistency with the system as it varies from country to country depending on the technology that is available.

With India being the current No. 1 ranked Test team in the world and the head of ICC being also an Indian – Sharad Pawar, a former president of the Indian Cricket Board and a Member of Parliament, one cannot see how the rest of the ICC members can convince the governing body to overturn India’s present stance on the UDRS. India may get away with refusing to use the UDRS until Pawar’s term comes to an end in 2012 which in a way will make the system a practical joke to be scorned and scoffed at by the cricketing fraternity at large and even by the players themselves.

When delving on the subject of UDRS one has to be sympathetic towards Senaka Weeraratne, a Sri Lankan lawyer whose claims as the originator of the UDRS is still pending recognition from the ICC. For the past one year or so through Sri Lanka Cricket Weeratne has tried to establish with the ICC that the umpires review rule was originally his idea. He claims that it was first mooted by him in 1997 and that he has enough evidence on the subject published around the world to stake a claim as the rightful author.
The only alternative left for Weeraratne it seems is to approach the claim legally if he is really determined the credit should come to him for putting forward the proposal of challenging the umpire’s decision as far back as 1997.