Technology is a good tool to have for enhancing the television viewing experience but there is still plenty of work to be done before it is applied to calls that can make or break cricketersssÃ? careers.
By Sunil Gavaskar
Kevin Pietersen brings out contrasting emotions in the English followers. They love his batting but very few have grown to love him. It’s mainly a perception thing and just like in India where we love our champions to be humble and honest and just play their game so also in England they would much rather have a player who simply does his job and then goes home. They don’t want to read or hear about him going out on the town with a lovely on his arm or about his latest extravagant purchase. They would rather know only about his sport and not about his lifestyle and while all that was pretty true till maybe a decade or so ago the advent of lifestyle section in big newspapers as well as magazines and then special TV shows and such that part of a sportsman’s life also comes under the scanner.
Sports administrators are generally those who like to keep a low profile and carry on with their usual work. They are invariably honorary workers for sports organisations and want to stay away from the spotlight as much as possible. Of course there are exceptions and these are generally the younger administrators who have grown up on the lifestyle mags and so feel that they also should be part of the set. One of the main reasons that Sachin Tendulkar is so loved and admired is because he hardly ever features in the columns other than on sport and even though there is so much about him that is unknown there is not the curiousity that is there with say a Yuvraj Singh about whom there are some who want to know everything. That could well be because Yuvraj mixes with the glamour set and so those following that glam set want to know what he is eating, who he is eating with, what he is wearing and such like.
Be that as it may, there is no doubt that when Pietersen came in to bat in the Lord’s Test there were many who were hoping that he would make up for his run of low scores with a big hundred. He had not got a three figure innings in England for a couple of years now and that was too long for a player of his caliber. He had of course got centuries overseas but not on English grounds and there was a hunger for it. There were also some in the Brit media who had begun to question his place in the team and that is usually a red rag to a bull.
A player will accept that he is not playing well and even why he is not doing so, but when his place in the team is questioned then he wants to go out there and shove the words down the throats of those who are asking for his omission. Pietersen also knows that he is not accepted as English because of the fact that he was born in South Africa and spent his formative years there before seeking greener pastures in England and so every time he gets in the news for the wrong reasons there is a shrug of shoulders as if to suggest “what do you expect? He really isn’t English, is he?”
Pietersen was distinctly lucky that the agreement between the two cricket Boards allowed the use of the hot spot to decide on catches but not necessarily leg-before-wicket decisions. He was also lucky that however good modern cameras are, they are still not good enough to tell with absolute certainty if a fielder has taken a catch cleanly or some part of the ball has been grassed. That is how he got away with a catch appeal when Dravid picked up a low catch off Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s bowling. Now Dravid is one of the great ambassadors of the game and he wasn’t sure himself so he did not go into the mode of hurling the ball in the air like most younger players do but waited for the umpires to refer it to the third umpire who after having had a look at the replays were not certain and so the benefit of the doubt went to Pietersen who cashed in on that and went to a glorious double century. It was quite clear that he was looking to make up for his lack of a century in England with a big one and that’s exactly what he did.
The hot spot also came under the microscope when Eoin Morgan walked after he got a thin inside edge to a Praveen Kumar delivery. Replays however showed that the ball had brushed the top of the pads and there was no hot spot on any part of the bat at all. Word from the English dressing room was that Morgan knew he had nicked the ball and so walked away as soon as he was given out and did not ask for the decision to be reviewed as Pietersen had. The BCCI has always taken the stand that technology has to be fool proof and even if there is a one perfect or less of doubt then that is not good enough and that is why they have been reluctant to use the DRS for leg before calls since there is an element of guesswork as far as the predictive line is concerned after the ball hits the pads and that is not what should be the way. They were convinced to use the hot spot after a few of their players said that, that was pretty accurate but as we saw with the Morgan decision that even the hot spot is not 100% accurate.
Technology is a good tool to have for enhancing the television viewing experience but as the decisions that helped Pietersen to break through his lean patch and the one that sent back Morgan without disturbing the scorers shows there is still plenty of work to be done before it is applied to calls that can make or break cricketers’ careers.