The DRS in cricket is a Decision Review System introduced to get more accurate decisions in the game. The technology-based system assists the on-field umpires to make fairer and more transparent calls.
The DRS was first used in 2008 in Test cricket during India’s series against Sri Lanka, where Virender Sehwag became the first international player to be adjudged out under the review system. Since then the decision review system has come a long way with the International Cricket Council (ICC) making significant improvements in the process.
Test cricket had the first bite at the DRS but the fifty-over format has to wait until 2011. In T20 internationals, the DRS was introduced as late as 2017.
When a team takes a DRS, they challenge the on-field umpire’s call. The third umpire then checks the incident with the help of various slow-motion camera angles and other technologies such as ball tracking and edge detection.
How to opt for a DRS in cricket
Once you know what is DRS in cricket, you have to understand when and how you can call upon a player review.
A team can opt for a DRS only after the on-field umpire has given his decision. The clock starts ticking immediately as the challenging team has 15 seconds to decide whether to take a review or not.
To call a review, the captain of the fielding team or the batter in the middle need to signal ‘T’ with their hands within the 15-second window. The on-field umpire then sends the query to the third umpire.
If the clock ticks over, the on-field umpire has the right to deny the review request. If the on-field umpires think the challenging team received assistance from those not on the field, they can deny the review.
How does the decision review system (DRS) in cricket work?
Once the decision is sent upstairs by the on-field umpire, the third umpire first checks if the delivery was fair that is – if the bowlers overstepped or not. Once it confirms that it was a legal delivery, the third umpire moves on to other aspects of the review, depending on what type of dismissal the review was challenged for, although the umpire checks all modes of dismissals in the end.
For example, if the fielding team took a review for an LBW decision, the third umpire first checks if the ball has hit or made any contact with the bat. To rule that, the third umpire has two tools – ultra-edge and Hotspot. If nothing comes up, he/she moves on to ball tracking – a famous Hawkeye technology to understand the projected path of the ball after hitting the pads.
If the ball is pitched in line or outside off the stumps, makes an impact with the pads in line and would go on to hit the stumps – that is three reds – then only can the third umpire overturn the on-field umpire’s decision.
Example 2) if a team challenges a caught decision, the third umpire first checks if the ball has hit or made contact with the bat, using Hotspot and Ultra-edge. If it did make the contact, he/she then reviews if the catch was taken clean. In case the ball had not edged the bat but struck the pads, the third umpire is obliged to follow the LBW process to eliminate all possible modes of dismissals.
Remember, technology is not perfect. It has its own shortcomings and to deal with that, the DRS has an important factor – the umpire’s call.
What is Umpire’s call rule in cricket?
As we mentioned, the technology can be flawed because the projected path is not the actual path of the ball. The Hawkeye tracking has several projected paths and what we see on the screen is one of the possible trajectories the ball would travel if it didn’t hit the pads. The ICC introduced the umpire’s call rule in DRS to give the on-field umpire a benefit of the doubt and not rely solely on the technology.
The umpire’s call comes into play when a leg-before-wicket (LBW) decision is challenged. When a fielding team takes a review for an LBW decision, the on-field umpire refers it by the third umpire, who upholds the on-field decision for marginal calls.
This is after the ball tracking shows the ball just clipping the stumps. For the on-field decision to be overturned, more than 50% of the ball should be hitting the stumps on a projected path.
According to the ICC, Umpire’s Call is the concept within the DRS under which the on-field decision of the bowler’s end umpire shall stand, which shall apply under the specific circumstances set out in paragraphs 3.4.5 and 3.4.6 of Appendix D, where the ball-tracking technology indicates a marginal decision in respect of either the Impact Zone or the Wicket Zone.”
In 2021, an International Cricket Council committee led by Anil Kumble, lifted the height margin of the Wicket Zone to the top of the stumps to ensure the same Umpire’s Call margin for both height and width.
Former India captain Anil Kumble, at that time had stated – “The principle underpinning DRS was to correct clear errors in the game whilst ensuring the role of the umpire as the decision maker on the field of play was preserved, bearing in mind the element of prediction involved with the technology. Umpire’s Call allows that to happen, which is why it is important it remains.”
When the umpire’s call is upheld, the team that challenged the decision does not lose the review.
ICC provides the technologies used in the DRS-approved vendors and works independently. The ball tracking technology is provided by Virtual Eye and Hawkeye Innovations. The edge detection technology – Real-time snickometer as well as Hotspot are provided by BBC Sports. Hawkeye provides ultra-edge technology as well.
The HotSpot technology works on the heat caused by the interaction between bat and ball. If there is any contact between the bat and the ball, a spot shows up on the bat. It can also detect when the ball hits any part of the batter’s body.
The Ultra-edge or Real-Time Snickometer are sound-based technologies, which indicates a deviation or spike when the ball edges the bat.
How many DRS reviews can a team take?
Since its introduction, the limit of how many DRS reviews a team can opt for has changed quite a bit.
In Test cricket, each team is allowed three unsuccessful player reviews per innings. The number was increased by one in all three formats after the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping in mind there were lesser experienced and local umpires officiating the matches due to travel restrictions.
As for limited overs cricket, there are two unsuccessful reviews allowed per innings in ODI cricket as well T20I cricket. There is no limit for successful DRS reviews in cricket.
Controversies surrounding the DRS
Controversies are inevitable in any field, more so in sports with plenty of variables in play. The decision review system has also come under the scanner on several occasions, be it Sachin Tendulkar’s LBW decision in the 2011 world cup semi-final against Pakistan or Joe Root’s caught behind in a Test match in 2014 or Steve Smith surviving a Leg before wicket in the 2021 Test against India.
Most recently, India were again involved in one of such DRS controversies. On the tour of South Africa last year, Dean Elgar successfully overturned an LBW decision in the third Test. To the naked eye, it looked like the ball bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin would have gone into hit the leg stump. But the ball tracking showed the ball going to the top of the leg stump. Frustrated by the decision, the Indian players expressed their dissent on the field through stump mics, going as far as accusing the host broadcasters of foul play.
In a Test match between India and Australia at Sydney in 2021, DRS became a hot topic after a mysterious fourth stump appeared during the ball tracking. To the naked eye, it looked like the ball would’ve missed the leg stump by a fair margin after it struck Steve Smith. But the ball tracking showed the ball clipping the mysterious fourth stump as India retained the review.
What are the other types of reviews in cricket?
What we discussed so far was the player review which comes under the decision review system. There is another form of referral called ‘umpire review’ which the on-field umpires can use for any decision. Whether to take the umpire review or not is totally up to the on-field umpires and the players can not argue with it.
The on-field umpires can call upon the third umpire by signalling a TV-shaped box for a run-out or catch or field obstruction dismissal. They can also refer to the third umpire to check whether the boundary is saved or not. The third umpire then studies the footage to make the right decision.
The umpire review is aimed at making the job of on-field umpires easier.
How many DRS in cricket?
In Test cricket, each team has two reviews per innings, and one each per innings in ODI and T20I cricket.
When was DRS introduced in cricket?
DRS was first used in Test cricket in 2008, 2011 in ODIs and October 2017 in T20I cricket.
DRS timer in cricket meaning
All players have 15 seconds to signal for a DRS review, signalling “T” with their hands to the on field umpire.
What is drs full form?
In cricket, the full form of DRS is Umpire Decision Review system.
Who used the DRS for the first time?
Anil Kumble was the first captain to use the DRS, when the on field umpire turned down Harbhajan Singh’s appeal for the lbw of Sri Lanka’s Malinda Warnapura during the Test in 2008