Stokes calls for DRS to scrap umpire’s call


Ben Stokes has called for the Decision Review System (DRS) to scrap umpire’s call after England were left bemused by Zak Crawley‘s second-innings dismissal in their defeat in the third Test against India.

Crawley reviewed Kumar Dharamasena’s decision to give him out lbw to Jasprit Bumrah in the ninth over but left the field incensed, believing the predicted path showed the ball would be missing the top of leg stump. It was the second time Crawley has been on the receiving end of a marginal DRS call, after being adjudged leg before against Kuldeep Yadav in Visakhapatnam following a review from Rohit Sharma. Stokes called the decision “wrong” at the time.

The England captain was seen alongside head coach Brendon McCullum seeking clarification from match referee Jeff Crowe after England’s 434-run loss. Speaking at stumps, Stokes said the error was with the image produced, which relayed the projected impact on leg stump, rather than the calculations, which were deemed correct by HawkEye.

“We just wanted some clarity around Zak’s DRS when the images came back,” revealed Stokes. “The ball is quite clearly missing the stump on the replay. So when it gets given umpire’s call and the ball’s not actually hitting the stumps, we were a bit bemused. So we just wanted some clarity from the Hawk-Eye guys.

“It came back saying the numbers, or whatever it is that is, it was saying that it was hitting the stumps but it was the projection that was wrong. I don’t know what that means. Something’s gone wrong, so, yeah.

“It’s not me blaming that on what’s happened here, like I didn’t last week. It’s just… what’s going on?”

England were also riled by Ollie Pope‘s dismissal in the first innings at Rajkot. Originally given “not out” against Mohammed Siraj, the decision was overturned because the impact into leg stump was deemed conclusive. Watching live, the tourists assumed the on-field decision would stand.

Stokes reiterated he did not think such calls were the reason England are now 2-1 down in the five-match series. But he stated his preference that the system needs to be changed, starting with umpire’s call.

“It is not something you pin down to result of the game. Sometimes when you are on the wrong end of those decisions it hurts but that is part of the game. You want them to go your way, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t

“You just want a level playing field. The umpires have an icnredibly hard job as it is, especially in India when the ball is spinning. My personal opinion is if the ball is hitting the stumps, it is hitting the stumps. They should take away umpire’s call if I’m being perfectly honest. I don’t want to get too much into it because it sounds like we are moaning and saying that is why we lost the Test match.”

Stokes’ original comments about the accuracy of the DRS during the second Test prompted Paul Hawkins, the creator of Hawk-Eye’s ball-tracking technology to defend the system.

“There isn’t [even] a one percent chance of it being wrong,” Hawkins told the Sunday Times. “For every DRS [incident], we do screen-grabs which show everything the [Hawk-Eye] operator shows. This is automatic, we can’t manipulate it, and that immediately goes to the ICC [the game’s governing body] as part of the quality control process.

“There are also two independent tracking systems. The cameras are the same, but the operators do their calibrations and the manual bit independently. This provides back-up in the unlikely event that one crashes. Even if there is an lbw shout, let alone a review, the person that plays the review to TV [must check] before anything goes to air that both trajectories give the same result, and are hitting the stumps in the same place.

“It’s not a fully automated system, but a lot is done to eliminate human error by having checks, training and this process of two people doing things independently, [which] has pretty much always been there.”

Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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