The Decision Review System came in for some criticism from both camps after the second Test in Bulawayo. This wasn’t the first time that the DRS has been used in Zimbabwe – it was first used during the second Test against Sri Lanka last year – but neither team seemed to get the best out of the system.
Zimbabwe may have removed eventual centurion Jason Holder for 11, if they still had a review available, while West Indies’ push for victory on the final day was stalled when Graeme Cremer was given not out after gloving a sharp bouncer to wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich off the first ball he faced. Without any reviews to fall back on, West Indies could not reverse the decision.
That wasn’t it, however. Late in the afternoon they had two lbw decisions turned down despite the ball tracker returning three reds. “I probably can’t comment on that because I’ll get into big trouble,” said Stuart Law, the West Indies coach when asked about the DRS. “It costs a lot of money to set up the cameras and have the technology available to us. To only be able to use it for two incorrect appeals, I think, is ludicrous considering that you had $400,000 worth of machinery around and you can’t use it. To me that doesn’t quite make sense. But we’ve got to be smarter and understand that we do only have two reviews.
“From my understanding, the technology has been incorporated to stop the absolute howler. Umpires are human and they make mistakes, we all do. But it’s there to stop the howler and if there are decisions where you feel you’ve been hard done by and you’re not able to use it, I think it’s something that must be looked at.”
Heath Streak, the Zimbabwe coach, also resonated Law’s thoughts. “You pay a lot of money to have those systems in place,” he said. “I think that people watching on the telly could see that incorrect decisions were made. So I think it’s something that will have to be discussed going forward as to how we can best utilise what is effectively a very expensive system to have more correct decisions out there, so that the result is a reflection of the game and what’s really happened, rather than one or two guys getting away with a decision because the other team has lost reviews.”
Graeme Cremer, the Zimbabwe captain, admitted that both teams used the system poorly. Zimbabwe had used their last review on the third day attempting to reverse a decision against Kieran Powell. Sikandar Raza subsequently couldn’t review an lbw appeal off Holder, which cost them plenty.
“The Test match could have been a lot different if Holder had got out [with that review],” Cremer said. “We could have knocked off the tail a lot quicker, and got a long way ahead in the game. Then we definitely would have bowled again and it would have been an exciting finish to the Test match. It’s one of those things. It can happen.”
Like Law, Streak also questioned the limitation of two incorrect reviews per team per innings. “If you’re going to spend that much money I think four or five reviews should be necessary to get the correct decisions. I don’t see any reason why they should limit it to only two.”
Law also questioned the consistency of the results being provided by the technology in use, such as Snicko, which is used to graphically analyse sounds made by, for example, an edged shot.
“I’ve found it a little inconsistent these two Tests,” Law said. “On the Snicko there have been a lot of waves or spikes, some days there were plenty, some days there were none when someone is smashing the inside edge onto their pad. It doesn’t provide an exact result, but it gives you an idea I suppose. We’ve just got to use it better.”