The BCCI’s decision to introduce limited DRS in the semi-finals and final of the Ranji Trophy 2019-20 has been welcomed by the players, with Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat agreeing that the technology would help in restricting the “howlers” in the crunch games.
It is the first time that DRS is going be in use in India’s domestic circuit, but there will be no HawkEye, Snickometer or UltraEdge. The tools that will be used are a virtual pitch map (for lbw decisions) and slow-motion cameras, with each team getting four reviews per innings.
“It will be beneficial for sure because there won’t be the umpiring howlers that sometimes happen,” Unadkat told ESPNcricinfo.
However, the Saurashtra seamer wasn’t entirely certain how the limited version of the DRS would work and was waiting to hear more about it from the match officials before the semi-final against Gujarat later this week in Rajkot. “But it is not the DRS used in the international cricket. So I am slightly doubtful that even this [limited DRS] can go wrong. I am just afraid what if this doesn’t prove to be worthy enough for the decisions to be accurate. Having said that, it is still a beneficial first step.”
Unadkat also pointed out that umpiring standards in domestic cricket have been improving. “The umpiring quality has sure-shot improved,” he said. “The BCCI has been ranking the umpires and the best umpires are standing in the top groups. This year I felt the best umpires were standing in the Elite Group matches.”
Unadkat pointed out that the on-field decision-making was not below par even last season. According to him, the controversial decisions during the quarter-final between Karnataka and Saurashtra had “hyped” the issue and put umpires in a bad light. “It wasn’t that it was really, really poor last year. Just because of the couple of incidents, and because it happened against a team like Karnataka and it got hyped it so much, that is why the umpiring got highlighted.
“So the umpiring standards were not horrible last year. It was improving even then and has been the case even this season.”
Bengal captain Abhimanyu Easwaran also backed the decision. “I think it’s a very good thing to have DRS in domestic cricket as well, especially in knockout games, and semi-finals and final, even though there’s not that much technology,” Easwaran said as his team got ready to face Karnataka in the other semi-final at Eden Gardens. “The umpires can make errors at times. A human can make an error, but to rectify it, you have the technology and that will probably change the game for a team and that can probably be a deciding thing at a crucial point of the game.
“So I think it’s really good to have it, and hopefully, it can help players get crucial runs or crucial wickets and change the game for their teams.”
Abhimanyu, like most of his team-mates and a lot of others in the domestic circuit, has never played in a match that has had DRS in operation. The Karnataka camp will have KL Rahul and Manish Pandey, at the very least, who will be familiar with the system through their time in international cricket. But Abhimanyu was confident that the lack of experience wouldn’t be too much of a barrier to overcome.
“It’s a new thing, but I think guys have seen enough cricket on television, so we know a bit of how it works,” he said. “In the pre-match meeting with the umpires and the referee, there is going to be an explanation about how it works and what are the technologies available and things like that. So we’ll have a fair idea of it the day before the game.
“And obviously, we’ll talk about it to our teams as well, so they have a fair idea of how it’s working. We’ve been also given papers to read how it works, and the guys have seen on TV, how to take a review, and things like that.”
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.