Technology and Cricket: How long will the ICC wait to fully fuse the two?
The last ball of the match, seven runs required, the tension is palpable. Shivam Dube is on strike. He has already hit the first ball of the over for a six and is most likely to take a huge swing in the hope the ball crosses the line and Royal Challengers Bangalore sets up an unlikely super over with Mumbai Indians.
Lasith Malinga, who has done this many times in his career, runs in and delivers the ball into the blockhole. Dube can only guide it to Rohit Sharma to long on. Game over! Mumbai Indians have won. Or have they? Within minutes you can see a fuming Virat Kohli, not because his team has lost a game but for the simple reason that they should have won like the last delivery of the match was a no-ball which the umpire S. Ravi failed to detect. Royal Challengers Bangalore were robbed of a valid delivery to have a chance at winning the match.
IPL has always been a hub for controversies and after the Ashwin Mankading controversy just a few days back, everyone was busy discussing the Royal Challengers Bangalore-Mumbai Indians no ball.
Why has ICC not used technology to check no balls yet?
One of the most pertinent questions which everyone should be asking right now is why is it that ICC has not allowed the use of technology in checking for no-balls. We have seen many times that umpires do check for the front-foot no balls when a batsman is dismissed. However, errors such as the ones committed by Ravi yesterday made it important to address the importance of technology to check for no balls.
The ICC did try taking the aid of technology back in 2016. The Pakistan tour of England saw the experiment being tried out for the limited over matches where the third umpire was supposed to check for no balls and notify the first umpire in case of the front foot error. The third umpire had split screens monitors which made it easy for them to check to overstep by the bowlers and relay the information to the on-field umpire where a pager tied on their wrist would buzz, in case the bowler stepped over the crease. The time took to relay the information was minimum and it looked like that the idea could be tried on a broader level. However, ICC decided to say no to technology for a very simple reason— according to them, the use of technology to check for no-ball was expensive and hence not a feasible option.
What are the steps that ICC should take?
It was clear that due to an error committed by the umpire, Bangalore was robbed of a chance to win a close game. Kohli rightly said that these are small margins which decide the fate of a team in times to come. There might be a huge possibility that due to the error committed by S.Ravi, Bangalore might miss out on qualifying for the playoffs. What if this match was a knockout game? No team deserves to miss an opportunity of trying to win a game only because of an error which is beyond their control.
While umpires all over the world will have to improve in getting their calls right, one needs to understand umpiring is a tough job and human errors cannot be removed completely. While DRS has made it easier for the umpires to ensure those correct decisions are given more often not, they will have to ensure the errors related to no-balls and wide balls are kept to the bare minimum. Since that cannot be guaranteed always, it has become necessary that umpires are provided with the help of technology to ensure there are no wrong decisions given.
With the World Cup approaching, there is no room for errors in big tournaments like this. It is high time ICC starts considering the use of technology seriously and ensure the charm which this sport carries is not lost due to such mistakes.