Let me nail my colours to the mast at the outset. I am a firm believer that technology should be used in sport to adjudicate decisions. I will throw in a rider that stipulates standardization is essential so that the experience is comparable and no teams or individuals compete under different regulations.
You will remember the recent captivating series between India and South Africa when the Decision Review System was not being used, and how ludicrous it was to concurrently view the Ashes series in Australia where it was in full throttle. In my mind the spectacle of the use of technology and its implementation enhanced the experience for the viewer and there was minimal disillusionment from the players down under.
So that's my view and I stand by it. The beauty about life is that everyone is entitled to an opinion and very few will offer a strong view without prior consideration.
This weekend a unique photograph appeared on most back pages of the global sporting dailies. It was a rare meeting of two sporting giants. Roger Federer met Sachin Tendulkar on his turf. Following his third round demolition of David Nalbandian from Argentina, Federer engaged in conversation with Sachin on the players' balcony at Wimbledon. The discussions between the two icons lasted an hour, just over half the time it took for the Swiss to send the Argentine packing earlier. The cynical part of me wonders if Hawk-eye was mentioned.
Remarkably if you asked these two giants of sport if they support the use of technology in sporting decisions you would get a resolute negative from both. Federer has been outspoken in the past and at times has blatantly ridiculed Hawk-Eye during some of his matches. His views are enormously strong and, along with Sachin's, must obviously be respected. Throw in Dhoni's resistance and you have a trifecta of global sporting legends who are vociferous in their stance and objections.
The use of technology in tennis is simplified dramatically as the essential component that stipulates the boundaries, the white lines that determine legality, are static. That is a massive swing from cricket where all moving parts are in play continuously and technological boundaries are continually tested. Be that as it may, a system is currently available that satisfies 97% of those players who are members of the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations, an alliance that does not include Indian, Pakistan and Zimbabwean players. Those players who operate at 'ground zero' must also have their views respected as they are the ones who, in a sporting sense, live and die by the technological adjudication outcome.
Now back to my aforementioned subjects. Who is to say that Roger and Sachin are wrong?
They are both measured individuals who will have firm reason for their resistance. The most talented simply cannot be ignored.
Hong Kong will be under the cricketing scanner this week as all the pertinent stakeholders of the game meet for the ICC's annual conference. A discussion regarding the mandatory introduction of DRS is high on the agenda and it promises to be the subject of animated discussion. The BCCI have expressed a lack of trust in Hawk-Eye and have stubbornly resisted its implementation. Some, namely Tendulkar, have echoed those thoughts but have supported the use of Hot Spot and slow motion cameras to assist decision making. That may well provide the opportunity for some form of compromise in the interim so that the cricketing spectacle can be enhanced and importantly make progress on this issue. Long term it should be all or nothing so that confusion is minimized, consistency reigns and the sum of all parts concludes correctly.
Some members of the Indian team have openly supported DRS but that has not swayed the Board. In a strange and potentially timeous twist, the inadequacies of umpire Harper in the first Test in Jamaica might just provide incentive for further introspection. Following the stunning victory from behind by India at Sabina Park, it was widely reported that various members, the skipper included, had offered verbal jibes of disgust. That provides a far from ideal juxtaposition. On one hand the objection to the use of technology is omnipresent in Indian cricketing circles, yet human error is also unacceptable.
Perhaps a revisit of the initial reason technology was introduced is required. It was to overcome the sporadic umpires' 'howlers' that invaded our fine game. Hot Spot and additional specific cameras can generally cover those bases. Maybe a consensus needs to be reached in Hong Kong that eradicates those obvious errors so that we can all move forward in unison and break the deadlock, albeit with some financial responsibility from the ICC.
The current economic climate dictates that neither the cricketing Boards nor the television companies should be held totally accountable financially. Surely the ICC can use its authority to partner a global sponsor who in return will receive substantial, prime airtime.
This decision in Hong Kong is obviously not going to be a simple one and the discussions will be fraught with illogical explanations and sadly I fear, a distinct lack of understanding of the technology in question.
Surely it is not too difficult to acknowledge that some form of progress needs to be made or a damaging and polarizing stalemate will prevail.
Even Roger and Sachin would agree.
by MIKE HAYSMAN