The “wicket zone” will now be extended all the way to the top of the bails. Previously it stopped at the bottom of the bails
The ICC cricket committee has made changes to the way lbws will be adjudged under the Decision Review System, effectively increasing the area of the stumps a ball must be shown as hitting for a not out decision to be overturned. This “wicket zone” will now be extended all the way to the top of the bails, having previously gone only to the bottom of the bails, which is why deliveries just clipping the bails ended up staying with the umpire’s call on the field. By DRS protocol, If more than half the ball is predicted to hit this region, an on-field call of not-out is reversed.
Lbw decisions have been at the very centre of most debates around the DRS, whether it is on the efficacy of ball-tracking technologies or – as the focus is these days – around the umpire’s call element. Virat Kohli said during the recent ODI series with England that it caused a lot of confusion. But the ICC cricket committee, as reported earlier by ESPNcricinfo, has decided to retain umpire’s call.
“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,” Anil Kumble, former India captain and current head of the committee, said. “Umpire’s Call allows that to happen, which is why it is important it remains.”
This is the second time the ICC has adjusted its definition of the “wicket zone” for lbws. In 2016, they had increased the wicket zone by expanding its width, so that half the ball had to hit any part of the off- or leg-stumps, rather than having to hit at least half of each stump previously.
Another significant change will now allow teams to ask on-field officials if they think the batsman was playing a shot before they decide to review. And short-run calls, like no-ball calls, will now be the third umpire’s responsibility.
Covid-19 regulations to stay
In the age of a pandemic, the ICC had to make some leeway to ensure matches can be played while also keeping people safe.
As a result, they allowed for the use of home umpires – when previously all matches had to be adjudicated by neutrals. Coupled with that, all teams were given an additional DRS review per innings to account for the possibility of unconscious bias.
There were also provisions made for Covid-19 substitutes in case a player in the XI is found to be sick. And the use of saliva to shine the ball was outlawed.
These rules had originally been added as a temporary measure and the cricket committee has decided that they will continue to stay in play, as reported by ESPNcricinfo.
Expanding the use of substitutes
The ICC currently allows players to be substituted for two reasons: concussion and Covid-19. But having opened the doors for it, the cricket committee now appears to be in favour of expanding the remit.
Previously, any time a team ends up fielding more than 11 players, the game’s official status would be stripped and it would be considered just a friendly. That will no longer be the case now as the law makers try to assess a more general use of replacement players, starting at first-class level.
With inputs from Osman Samiuddin
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo