IF I had my way I would scrap the Decision Review System (DRS).
I know it is a bit like saying we should go back to uncovered pitches, something else that is never going to happen.
But I find the increasing use of technology an intrusive element of the cricket-watching experience, a bit like going to the theatre and stopping the play every five minutes to check whether the actors have strayed from the exact wording of the script.
The ongoing Ashes series has been as much a demonstration of cutting edge technology as it has of cricketing technique.
It has been about infra-red imaging and projected flight paths of the ball as much as reverse-swing bowling and cover drives.
The technology, I accept, is truly marvellous, but if I wanted to marvel at technology I would buy the latest hi-tech magazine.
I certainly would not watch a game of cricket.
Call me old-fashioned, but I quite like the idea of the game being supervised by two blokes in white coats rather than by more technical gadgetry than you could shake a stick at.
I would like to see the game move along at much greater speed, with improved over-rates and less time-wasting, and without constant reference to the dreaded referrals.
Over-rates are slow enough already – an insult, in fact, to the paying public – without taking further time out of the game to detect whether a batsman got the faintest of inside edges, or whether a bowler overstepped the crease by a couple of millimetres.
I have sympathy for the supposed raison d’etre of DRS – to eliminate umpiring howlers.
But is the 4.7 per cent improved decision rate, or whatever the figure is, really worth all the upheaval and constant interruption, or would it not just be better to accept that sport, like life, contains an intrinsic element of human error?
After all, it is not as if we are seeing 100 per cent correct decisions even with DRS, with the third umpire often incapable of interpreting the evidence. And what is the point of having it at all if it can not be used to overturn hapless blunders like Aleem Dar’s failure to give Stuart Broad caught at slip in the Trent Bridge Test, with Australia having used up all their reviews.
I accept that DRS can add to the drama.
There is that baited breath moment while we await the outcome of a particularly close call.
But are not all the replays and referrals detracting from the game?
Would it not just be better to get on with the game?
We have now reached the point where a fundamental art of cricket at the highest level has nothing to do with batting, bowling or fielding but how players make use of DRS.
With teams only allowed two unsuccessful reviews per innings, which means howlers such as Dar’s can go uncorrected, there is added pressure on players to use them wisely.
Often, they use them recklessly, with player seniority too much of a factor when it comes to reviews.
Consider the following...
Batsman A – 150 Test caps, 10,000 runs, average 50 – asks Batsman B – 2 caps, 37 runs, making his way in the game – whether he thinks he should refer an lbw verdict.
What is Batsman B, this young upstart of a player, going to tell Batsman A, a legend of the sport?
“No, on your way, sunshine you were absolutely plumb”?
Of course not.
Not only is the system itself less than foolproof, it is not universally employed.
The Indian cricket board will not agree to it, leading to an imbalance in its implementation.
Whenever I think of DRS, I always come back to the words of Dickie Bird.
Asked in 2009 what he thought of it, Dickie declared: “It takes away authority from the on-field umpires, and the whole thing is causing more trouble than it’s worth.”