The International Cricket Council (ICC), the international governing body of cricket has the right to accept or reject any proposals to improve the game. It has within its own rights to do so.
The ICC’s latest decision to snub an alternative rain rule to the existing Duckworth and Lewis without giving it a trial has not met with much approval from certain sections of the Asian community especially from Indian batting legend Sunil Gavaskar.
Gavaskar, a former Indian captain and one time head of the ICC’s cricket committee criticised the ICC in his column in the Times of India newspaper for not at least giving a trial to the alternative rain rule method suggested by an Indian engineer V Jayadevan.
“In all fairness ICC should have tried the Jayadevan method for a year, like they do with trial laws, and then decided,” Gavaskar wrote in his column.
Jayadevan spent a decade working on his so-called VJD system which has been used in Indian domestic matches since 2007 following a recommendation from Gavaskar himself. But the ICC’s cricket committee which met in London said it had considered Jayadevan’s method in detail but found no evidence of any significant flaws in the D/L method, which was first introduced internationally in 1996.
The D/L method was devised by two British statisticians, Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis. It was first used in international cricket in the second game of the 1996-97 Zimbabwe versus England One-Day International series and was formally adopted by the ICC in 2001 as the standard method of calculating target scores in rain shortened one-day matches.
ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat defending the ICC’s decision to retain the D/L method was quoted by agencies, “Let’s not forget Duckworth-Lewis is a tried and tested method and to radically change something, you need something that is radically different and makes substantial sense.”
Jayadevan’s challenge was seen by western countries like England as another attempt by India, the game’s superpower, to chip away at the influence of the former colonial power and inventor of the game.
Lorgat however stated, “With respect to Sunil Gavaskar, I was present at the meeting (of the Cricket Committee), the president of the ICC was present and the process was proper, fair and transparent.”
The Jayadevan affair once more brings to light a similar plight suffered by a Sri Lankan lawyer Senaka Weeraratne who has been fighting for claim of authorship of the Decision Review System (DRS) rule which is currently used in Tests and One-Day matches (ODI’s and T20I’s) where the players are allowed to challenge an umpire’s decision twice in an innings.
The DRS was first introduced in Test cricket for the sole purpose of reviewing the controversial decisions made by the on-field umpires in the case of a batsman being dismissed or not. The review system was officially launched by the ICC in November 2009 during the first Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Dunedin.
Weeraratne claims that it is his idea which he first put forward as far back as 1997 that the ICC is today using without acknowledging the authorship to him.
Rob Steen, sports writer and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton wrote in Sport in Society in an article titled “Going upstairs: The decision review system.”
“Senaka Weeraratne, a Sri Lankan-born lawyer residing in Darwin, Australia, maintains that it was his 1997 letter to The Australian, the first of many, which planted the seeds for what became the DRS. In writing it, illuminatingly, he likened the players’ right to challenge umpires to the appeal of a ‘dissatisfied litigant’.”
Weeraratne’s proposal was first sent to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) president Upali Dharmadasa in May 1997 to be tabled at the ICC meeting. Dharmadasa in turn had instructed his CEO at the time the late Tryphon Mirando to study the proposal and submit it to the SLC. Dharmadasa’s term as president ended in 1998 and since then the proposal has died a natural death with subsequent SLC administrators not taking Weeraratne’s case forward with the ICC. Dharmadasa is once again president of SLC and it is not too late to revive this proposal again and present it to the ICC. Whether it will end up as the Jayadevan proposal one cannot tell, but at least an attempt should be made to bring it up to ICC Cricket Committee for discussion and a final decision on it being taken.
The 16-member Cricket Committee headed by former West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd includes Lorgat and ICC president Sharad Pawar and former international captains Mark Taylor, Ravi Shastri and Kumar Sangakkara, South African coach Gary Kirsten, ICC’s head match referee Ranjan Madugalle and leading umpire Steve Davis.
Gavaskar castigated the Indian media for failing to get behind Jayadevan and support him. The same could be said for Weeraratne’s case also as there has been hardly any support for him from neither the local media nor the SLC to fight his claim. Such partisan attitude by the Asian bloc is what allows western countries to dominate the ICC.