For a game as steeped in tradition as cricket is, the question of how much to rely on technology is a perennial and is now becoming increasingly complex. The Decision Review System has been controversial since it was first put in place.
If anyone needed proof that cricket's new video-replay scheme, the Umpire Decision Review System (DRS), has completely changed the sport, the Test series in which England have just slumped to defeat against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has provided a watertight testimony. Although DRS has been around for two years, this seems to be the series in which it has come of age. It has set a record for the number of leg-before-wicket (LBW) dismissals—a devilishly complex law of the game—in a three-match series. Batsmen have been trapped leg-before 43 times, smashing the previous high of 35 set when Pakistan toured the West Indies in 1993. In that series most of the victims fell to fearsome fast bowlers such as Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. In contrast, it has been the spin bowlers who have run riot in the UAE. Although only a few of these dismissals have been the result of direct review, there is little doubt that just having the technology in place has made the on-field umpires more likely to give a batsman out. DRS has also changed the way that batsmen play against spinners.
Forget the leg work:
DRS is a system that allows teams to challenge umpires' decisions. For catches, slow-motion replays are used to check whether a fielder caught the ball on the full. To see whether the ball nicked the bat, umpires use a heat-sensitive camera called hotspot. But DRS is most often brought into play with LBW appeals, always the most difficult call for umpires. When a batsman or a fielding captain wants to challenge an umpire's LBW decision, they can now resort to a technology called Hawkeye. A combination of video replay and modeling software, Hawkeye...