Decision Review System or DRS has been the topic of much debate since its inception. Australia recently faced the brunt of using it unwisely to lose the Leeds Test and allow England to level the Ashes 1-1. Australia were left rueing their lost review as Ben Stokes carried England to a memorable win.
DRS depends a lot on its careful utilisation as it’s limited across all formats and can turn the game around if it’s not used judiciously. MS Dhoni is known to have mastered the art of calling referrals correctly almost every single time.
So, what are the tricks of DRS? When, where and how to use it? Cricwizz decodes the strategy to use DRS effectively.
When ‘not’ to use DRS?
The use of DRS is not about when to use it. It’s more about when ‘not’ to use it. As referrals are limited, it’s important to make a wise decision regarding its use. Hence, it’s important to know when not to use it.
Here are a few scenarios when not to use DRS and where most captains make errors in using the referrals when it should have been avoided at all costs.
When openers use DRS on a whim sometimes
Openers just hate getting out early. Hence, it has been seen a few times that openers use DRS on a whim if they are dismissed early. Virender Sehwag taking a referral promptly in 2011 World Cup without checking with his batting partner Sachin Tendulkar is a case in point. Sehwag was ruled out LBW and India lost a vital review. It didn’t affect India in the match, but it could have been a costly miss.
Another case is KL Rahul taking a referral unnecessarily in Sydney ODI in 2019. MS Dhoni then could not challenge an LBW dismissal and was out at a critical juncture of the game. Hence, it’s vital to take time and seek a partner’s advice before taking a referral.
When umpires give benefit of doubt to the batsman
Umpires tend to give benefit of doubt to the batsman in LBW decisions when the ball is slightly going down the leg side. In such cases, referrals have 50 % chance of being successful as umpire’s call comes into play. If there’s the slightest doubt in the fielding side about the denied LBW, the team should refrain from using it.
When there’s a desperate need of wickets
Australia made this costly error in the Leeds Test as they needed to dismiss the last batsman Ben Stokes to win the Test and retain the Ashes. But the ball was pitched outside the leg stump, and Australia lost a vital review. A few minutes later, Stokes was wrapped on the pads after going for a sweep, but the umpire turned it down and Australia had no review left to challenge the decision. The rest is history.
When the margin of error is less
Most of the denied referrals on LBWs are because the ball was pitched outside the leg stump. Few captains try their luck and tend to take the referrals without taking this point into consideration. And such referrals are not retained like the umpire’s call referrals. Hence, the captain must check with the bowler about the line of the ball before taking such calls.
When it’s used occasionally against top batsmen
Sometimes, the opposition tends to take referrals against top batsmen more often as they can change the course of the game. But it should be taken only if the team is sure that their challenge will be held by the third umpire.
How to use DRS
Take the help of keeper or batting partner
A wicketkeeper is said to have a better and bigger view of the cricket field, especially the 22 yards. Hence, he is the best player to guide the captain in taking referrals. Hence, MS Dhoni has such a high success rate in referrals.
When it comes to the batsmen, taking the advice of your partner is a must before taking the referral. A partner at the opposite end can be the best judge in taking a referral.
Do not follow bowler’s call blindly
Bowlers are always desperate for a wicket, so they will persuade their captain to take a review every time an appeal is denied. But the captain has to make the call not on the bowler’s recommendation, but on his keeper, vice-captain and his own judgement whether a referral will yield a positive result. Even if it means upsetting a bowler, so be it.
Check the line of the ball
A ball pitched outside leg-stump or hitting high on the pads or going over the stumps should be avoided for referrals.
Other options when to use DRS
Check the umpire’s credibility
Few umpires are notorious for giving wrong decisions and have their maximum decisions overturned. Kumar Dharamsena is one of them. But few umpires such as Marais Erasmus have the confidence of the players and the captain who would think twice before taking a referral and challenge their decisions.
Follow your instinct
Few referrals can be done on instinct. Indian skipper Virat Kohli took a referral on instinct in the second Test against West Indies recently and that helped Jasprit Bumrah take a hat-trick, even when the bowler himself was not sure of a referral. Kohli has not done a bad job too with referrals as he has always backed his instinct. But he has been wrong at times when he has become desperate for a wicket.
Check the bowler’s reputation
A strike bowler such as Jasprit Bumrah or Mitchell Starc should be seldom denied a referral when they ask for it. Such bowlers know they have got their man and would not let a referral go waste. But there are some bowlers who are unable to conjure up a wicket and goes to DRS route in the hope of bagging a wicket. Bowlers such as R Ashwin would always desperately ask for a referral from his skipper at all denied appeals. Kohli then resorts to time-wasting tactics to deny the referral.
Check the match’s situation
Tim Paine could be forgiven for taking a referral in the dying moments of the Leeds Test. But he got it wrong eventually and there was no referral left when the team needed it most. Hence, a captain should judge wisely when a DRS should be taken. It’s not a bad decision to retain the referral till the last unless it’s a clear dismissal, which is denied by the umpires.