Explained: LBW rules and the controversial umpires’ call in DRS | Cricket News

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NEW DELHI: According to the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the guardian of the laws of the game, there are ten ways in which a batsman can be dismissed in cricket.
These are:
1. Bowled
2. Caught
3. Hit the ball twice
4. Hit-wicket
5. Leg before wicket (LBW)
6. Obstructing the field
7. Run out
8. Stumped
9. Timed out.
10. Handled the ball.
THE OFTEN DEBATED LBW RULES
Of all these laws, LBW has been one of the most controversial and error-prone methods of dismissal. For the longest time the on-field umpires decided whether a batsman was out LBW or not. It’s still done that way, except since 2008 (when DRS was first introduced in international cricket) the players can now challenge an on-field umpires decision, using this method.
Over the decades, LBW is one rule that has seen multiple umpiring howlers. No other rule in cricket has seen as many changes as the LBW ones.
WHAT DOES THE RULE SAY?
Law 36 states that: the batter is out LBW if the bowler delivers a legitimate delivery (not a no-ball), the ball pitches in line between wicket and wicket or on the off side of the striker’s wicket, the ball not having previously touched his/her bat, the striker intercepts the ball, either full-pitch or after pitching, with any part of his/her person, the point of impact, even if above the level of the bails, either is between wicket and wicket or if the striker has made no genuine attempt to play the ball with the bat, is between wicket and wicket or outside the line of the off stump, but for the interception, the ball would have hit the wicket.
If the ball pitches outside the leg stump of the batter, then the LBW dismissal is ruled out.
Over the years, LBW has been the most error-prone dismissal because the umpires get only a fraction of a second to make the decision. Sometimes the edge off the bat onto the pads is too close to be spotted, sometimes the umpires fail to read the trajectory of the delivery and have ruled the batter out even if the ball is going over the stumps or vice-versa.
These dismissals, either way, could potentially change the course of the match and eventually the result too.
But with the advent of technology, innovation came in, action replays became a part of the game. The on-field umpire started signalling for the third umpire to make run out decisions and then Decision Review System (DRS) was introduced in 2008.

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(AP Photo)
WHAT IS DRS?
According to the International Cricket Council (ICC), the DRS is a technology-based process for assisting the match officials with their decision-making. On-field umpires may consult with the third umpire (an Umpire Review) and players may request that the third umpire consider a decision of the on-field umpires (a Player Review).
To make a decision, the DRS relies on ball tracking (to estimate the trajectory of the ball) and snickometer (to see if there is an edge off the bat onto the pad or not).

DRS-GETTY

(Getty Images)
THE PROBLEMATIC AREA
While the snickometer was seen as a welcome move, it is the ball tracking aspect that hit controversy. Ball tracking traces where the ball pitched, the point of impact of the ball on the pad and then the predicted path towards the stumps.
The human-machine conflict came to the fore because technology cannot make a perfect prediction of how much the ball will actually turn or bounce and whether the ball will go on to hit the stumps or not.
Some umpires said the DRS undermines the value of the on-field umpires, players doubted it because of the inconsistency in judging the spin and the bounce.
The Indian cricket board (BCCI) refused to accept DRS initially because the predicted path after the ball hit the pad was not reliable. BCCI added that there was a chance that the operator makes an error while identifying the point of impact of the ball on the pad.
To remove this glitch, Hawk-Eye, the ball-tracking technology provider, created Ultra-Edge, a sound based, edge-detection system that could identify the point of impact more accurately. Hawk-Eye claimed that Ultra-Edge can identify the frame in which the ball hits the pad when there is a sound of the ball hitting the pad or bat.
Satisfied, the BCCI agreed to use the DRS for the home series against England in 2016-17. Before that, the only times India had used the DRS was in ICC events.

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(Getty Images)
UMPIRE’S CALL CONTINUES TO DIVIDE THE CRICKETING WORLD
Virat Kohli once called it confusing. The umpire’s call has been the subject of much debate and continues to be a polarising aspect of DRS.

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(Getty Images)
WHAT IS UMPIRE’S CALL IN DRS?
As per the existing rule, 50% of the ball should be hitting at least one of the three stumps for the batter to be adjudged LBW on review, in case an umpire’s not out call has been challenged.
Many cricketers and cricket commentators have found this to be a strange rule, considering the ball even slightly brushing the stumps is ideally enough to dislodge the bails, which effectively rules a batter out.

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(Getty Images)
WHY IS UMPIRE’S CALL CONTENTIOUS?
What we see often is an on-field umpiring ruling a batter not-out on LBW and then replays showing that the ball would have indeed gone on to hit the stumps. But because it is less than 50%, the batter is deemed not out and the on-field umpire’s call stands.
In April last year the ICC Board ruled that the contentious Umpire’s call rule will remain a part of DRS.
Former India captain Anil Kumble, who was the ICC Cricket Committee Chairman at that time had said in a statement – “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.”
The Cricket Committee though approved three changes to DRS and third umpire protocols to be followed. “For LBW reviews, the height margin of the Wicket Zone will be lifted to the top of the stumps to ensure the same Umpire’s Call margin around the stumps for both height and width.
A player will be able to ask the umpire whether a genuine attempt has been made to play the ball before deciding to review an LBW decision.
The 3rd Umpire will check a replay of any short-run that has been called and correct any error prior to the next ball being bowled.” the ICC further said in a release.



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