“The captain may consult with the bowler and other fielders or the two batsmen may consult with each other prior to deciding whether to request a Player Review. However, in order to meet the requirement of (b) above, such consultation will need to occur almost instantly and be very brief. Under no circumstances is any player permitted to query an umpire about any aspect of a decision before deciding on whether or not to request a Player Review. If the umpires believe that the captain or batsman has received direct or indirect input emanating other than from the players on the field, then they may at their discretion decline the request for a Player Review. In particular, signals from the dressing room must not be given.”
The above is the protocol for requesting reviews. Sri Lankan allrounder Dilruwan Perera appears to have violated that protocol when he asked the umpire to refer his LBW decision for review. He appeared to be on his way to the pavilion when he suddenly turned around and made the request to the umpire. The decision was overturned. Dilruwan went on to add 43 for the eighth wicket with Rangana Herath, a very important contribution to Sri Lanka’s eventual 294.
Though the batsman and the Sri Lankan team has disputed this, Dilruwan seemed to have been urged by his dressing room to ask for the review. “Contrary to the assumptions made,” read a statement from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), there was no ‘message from the dressing room’ involved in the requested review.
“Having mistakenly assumed that Sri Lanka were out of reviews, Dilruwan Perera had turned to leave the field when he heard Rangana Herath inquire from the on-field umpire Nigel Llong if Sri Lanka have any reviews left, to which Mr Llong answered in the affirmative.
“It was then that Dilruwan requested the review.”
Since seeking help from the dressing room is a clear violation of the guidelines, the matter stirred much controversy and triggered a thousand arguments on social media. The whole kerfuffle recalled an incident in March, during Australia’s visit to India, when Steve Smith sought help from his dressing room before deciding to use the DRS.
The reaction then was swift and brutal. The Australian captain was pilloried and relations between the teams were frayed. Afterwards, Smith admitted he had what he termed a “brainfade,” but Kohli was adamant that the Australians were regular flouters of the rule.
My reaction then, as it is now, is what is all the fuss about?
If the idea is to arrive at the correct decision, does it matter all that much if players get guidance from the dressing room?
We have often seen DRS used tactically, rather than purely as a means of arriving at the right decision. Instead of being utilized to right an obvious wrong we have often seen it used speculatively. Using it frivolously is wrong. Using it to correct blatant umpiring mistakes is the reason it was implemented.
If Dilruwan was prevented from requesting a review he’d have been given out LBW without scoring. The decision would also have been incorrect. An attempt to uphold one guideline would have resulted in the violation of another: Law number 36, the portion that addresses batsmen struck outside the line of offstump.
The rule states that so long as the batsman is attempting a stroke he should not be given out if struck on the body outside the line of offstump. Dilruwan was. Umpire Nigel Llong, therefore, made an error that was corrected by DRS. How just would it have been, for the batsman and his team, if Llong’s erroneous decision was made to stand?
Dilruwan would have been given out and his team placed at a disadvantage. Do those castigating the allrounder and his team think they should have suffered due to an umpiring error when there is a remedy available?
It can’t be cheating, as some suggest if the intent is to obtain the correct decision. Those who point to regulations as a means of allowing an incorrect decision to stand, simply because it benefits their team should consider their motives. Would they be so concerned with the process if it were their team that stood to be harmed?
Those who say rules should be followed and enforced are, of course, correct. But, laws can also be reviewed and reformed. In light of this latest incident and the fallout that followed Smith’s “brainfade”, it may be time to reconsider some of the DRS guidelines.
Form should not be more important than substance. Those railing mightily about how much the process was violated are pressing the fallacy that form is more important than substance. The right decision was reached in the end. That should be what matters.