Tim Paine of Australia speaks with umpire Marais Erasmus.
Tim Paine of Australia speaks with umpire Marais Erasmus.

Alarming integrity threat in DRS calls

CRICKET'S DRS is vulnerable to an alarming integrity threat as the developer calls on the ICC to finally take ownership of the umpiring technology.

Virtual Eye confirmed that without ICC presence there was nothing stopping an operator from fudging the data to change the result of a third-umpire decision.

The admission came after Australian captain Tim Paine said Ross Taylor "must know the bloke in the truck" when the Kiwi batsman won a DRS reprieve during the Boxing Day Test.

Stream the AUS v NZ Domain Test Series LIVE & Ad-Break Free During Play on KAYO with FOX CRICKET's unmatched commentary line-up. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

With millions of gambling dollars riding on every delivery, and no ICC official stationed in the DRS truck, that poses a serious risk.

"Right now the ICC has handed one of the most important elements of the game to third parties," VE creator Ian Taylor said.

"That may have been a sledge from Tim Paine, but it also highlights the importance of accountability and transparency."

Virtual Eye backed Paine's call for the same technology to be used across the world - and wants the ICC to fund, manage and help evolve the million-dollar software.

The New Zealand company said it developed its ball-tracking technology to enhance TV broadcasts - not to decide the fate of Paine and Kane Williamson.

Ball-tracking technology designed for broadcasters has been adopted for official decisions.
Ball-tracking technology designed for broadcasters has been adopted for official decisions.

Both skippers were among six contentious DRS calls at the MCG when they were given out lbw.

Fox Cricket employs Virtual Eye with Channel 7 significantly contributing to the cost.

The ICC is not out of pocket.

It is understood the tracking accuracy of HawkEye, which is used for DRS in England and South Africa, and Virtual Eye is basically identical.

Both would've given Paine out lbw on Friday.

Taylor - who warned the ICC in 2008 that ball tracker's predictive path was not ready to be used by umpires - wants an ICC technical umpire who has been trained in the technology to sit in the truck.

"It was unfair to drop this technical aspect onto umpires," Taylor said.

"It's an entirely different role. The way it currently works is that our team is delivering high-end analysis graphics to the commentators for the TV coverage, and also having to officiate on every ball.

"That's a bit like asking the umpire out in the middle to commentate the match."

Virtual Eye is supremely confident in its product and would happily join forces with the ICC, which would finally see a cricket official sit in the truck.

The DRS issue was compounded when TV umpire Aleem Dar made a human error at the MCG, failing to dismiss Mitchell Santner for being caught off the glove, because he failed to properly use the technology.

"In an ideal world - and to Tim's point - the ICC needs to take full responsibility for everything involved in the DRS," Taylor said.

Boxing Day DRS calls that left Paine stumped

Tim Paine (Aus)79Not outOut
Travis Head (Aus)104Not outUmpire's call (made 114)
Ross Taylor (NZ)1OutNot out (made 4)
*Mitchell Santner (NZ)0Not out Not out (made 3)
Tom Blundell (NZ)0Not outOut - Aus didn't review (made 121)
Kane Williamson (NZ)0OutUmpire's call

"Broadcasters do not need it to be millimetre-accurate to tell stories. That requirement only arose once the ICC mandated it for official use, and the cost of providing that falls entirely on the providers and the broadcasters.

"The company that does this job should be contracted by the ICC solely to deliver the data to the specifications needed for DRS.

"Having the contract for every ICC game would mean they could afford to invest in research and development that would see the technology get better and better."

Taylor said golf's US PGA Tour had built its own data collection service, "Shotlink", which is provided to broadcasters. He described that as "the perfect match-up".

"We may disagree on his lbw, but I am in total agreement with (Paine) when he says DRS should be uniform across all games in every country," Taylor said.

"The best way to do that is to remove it from being the responsibility of the broadcaster and shifting that responsibility to the ICC."