DUBAI // The International Cricket Council (ICC) bowed down to pressure from a number of members led by the Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI) and scrapped the mandatory use of the Decision Review System (DRS).
The system will now only be used if competing sides agree to it ahead of bilateral engagements and at all ICC events, completing a policy u-turn on an increasingly emotive issue as dramatic as it has been swift.
In effect, matters now stand as they did before the annual ICC meeting in Hong Kong in June where it was agreed that a standard minimum use of the DRS would be mandatory in all international cricket.
"The decision we've made is to revert back to the participating nations determining whether they want to use it or not," said Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive. "There are quite a number of countries that favoured it and some who had concerns over its reliability."
The decision was the result of a two-day board meeting at the ICC headquarters in Dubai. The BCCI has been a consistent and public opponent of the DRS, their views based on what they consider to be the lack of accuracy with the technology involved.
Lorgat said the BCCI was not the only board to raise concerns, however. The summer series between India and England, which contained a number of high-profile contentious Hotspot decisions, in particular swung the balance with other members; some suggest nearly half of all Hotspot decisions were shown to be incorrect.
"The evidence that came out from England-India [on Hotspot] in particular was not comforting," Lorgat said. "There were a number of occasions where Hotspot did not detect a traceable mark.
"This was a board decision that came out through a considered debate and eventually there was unanimity that we need to revert and that those comfortable using it do use it and those who aren't have the option to decide not to use it."
Yet despite the discomfort with the evidence, the ICC will continue to use DRS at its own events, thus continuing the kind of inconsistency of usage that top-level umpires such as Simon Taufel and Aleem Dar have warned against.
Lorgat said the decision was recognition "that Hotspot is not as reliable as we would like it to be. Our position is simple and why we are still pursuing it. We do get the benefit of more correct decisions. We can rectify blatant errors so there is a use for it. But some members are not convinced by the incidents of failure of the technology."
One of the major blocks in the implementation of DRS has been funding. Putting in place the specific cameras needed for the technology, for example, has proved prohibitive for most members. At the annual meeting in June, the ICC had agreed to help by making financial contributions to boards.
Though no longer mandatory, that help is set to continue where required. "We will continue to work with members plus broadcasters to see how we can best employ DRS," Lorgat said. "But if it is not universally used across the board we will not be able to secure a sponsor.
"We are confident about its future. The board has confirmed it will be used in all ICC events, that's a firm decision. We should not forget that this is pioneering technology and it is a phase that we will go through in terms of developing it and working with technology suppliers and sometime in the future it will prove to be more reliable."
Another key decision taken at the meeting was to retain the existing system of appointing presidents of the ICC. There had been a move earlier this year to scrap rotational appointments to the top post, whereby two countries together put forward one nomination.
Discontent with the current system, in which every country eventually has a nominee, emerged after the John Howard fiasco last year. Howard, the former Australian prime minister, was nominated by Australia and New Zealand but as many as seven members opposed his candidacy.
But the plans for change were first delayed at the annual meeting this year, where the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) led the opposition, and finally scrapped here. The PCB, along with the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) is due to put forward a candidate by December 31 this year.
At the annual meeting and at a subsequent board meeting in September, the two issues were regularly used as trade-off for the other, some boards giving up the push to change the appointment system in return for other boards supporting them on scrapping the DRS.
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