Events over the past week drove home the point that has been well known for some time now: India dominates world cricket off the field if not on it. The manner in which the ICC at its meeting at Kuala Lumpur capitulated before the Indian Cricket Board's mule-headed stand on DRS made for sorry reading. Every cricketing nation but India opted for DRS and yet it was put on hold because India as usual was the sole objector.
The fact that the ICC Executive Board decided not to even put the issue to vote was most distressing. Clearly, none of the ICC members wants to be seen as antagonizing India because of its power attained through immense wealth. It was also painful to see the stand taken by Dave Richardson, the ICC's new executive, that DRS wouldn't be forced on India.
While admitting that the majority of players and umpires backed the DRS to rule on marginal or controversial decisions, Richardson said that India could not be dragged ''kicking and screaming'' to comply. He then followed this up with a weak defence of the ICC decision saying, ''I think we are pretty much at that point where everyone is accepting the system. I don't think that the decision is negative at all. We will be seeing DRS used in a majority of the series going forward and there would be no sense in forcing anything upon anybody.''
Clearly Richardson doesn't believe what he is saying for India has made its objection to the DRS in unambiguous terms over the last couple of years, and there is little chance that there will be any change in their stance. What was even more galling was that the DRS question came and went without a murmur according to reports despite the BCCI being the sole objector to its universal acceptance. This negative development affectively retains the DRS in its current form - a mutually agreed arrangement in bilateral series.
Interestingly enough, even as the ICC meeting was on at Kuala Lumpur former England captain Tony Greig while delivering the Colin Cowdrey Spirit of Cricket lecture at Lord's also came down heavily on the BCCI imploring it to abandon self interest and ''embrace the spirit of cricket and govern in the best interests of world cricket, not just for India and its business partners.''
His view on DRS were particularly timely. There are fewer mistakes made with its use he pointed out and hardly anyone would argue against that. So many decisions taken in recent matches where DRS is in use have underlined its usefulness in righting an incorrect decision and that is basically what the system is all about. Taking up the BCCI argument that the DRS is too inexact, Greig pointed out that ''the spirit of cricket is batting on both sides in this one'', calling upon India to accept the majority viewpoint.
Greig, now 65, also pointed out that India's power was being used to undermine the credibility and worth of the ICC and its self interest was to prevent beneficial advancements like the DRS and a coherent playing schedule while criticizing India's apparent indifference to Test cricket. He added that unfortunately India is pre-occupied with money and T20 cricket and saw its IPL and Champions League as more important than a proper international calendar.
He pointed out that much of the game was being controlled by the BCCI because it controls enough votes to block any proposal put forward at ICC meetings. The reason he added was obvious: Some of the countries would not survive without the financial opportunities India provided.
Few will argue against this viewpoint, particularly after what happened at Kuala Lumpur. Leaving other matters aside as one who has enthusiastically backed the DRS, I have never understood India's reluctance to adopt it. There are those who are against the increasing role of technology in cricket, especially as they feel it undermines the role of the umpires and turns them into robots.
While there is some beef in this argument, overall the greater use of technology is bound to produce the right results and the sight of a
disappointed batsman incorrectly given out returning to the pavilion following an incorrect decision by the umpire will hopefully soon vanish from the cricket field.
In the ultimate analysis, the system for all its faults would reduce instances of wrong decisions and that has to be good for the game. It is important to remember that the DRS is still in its early stages of implementation and one has got to give it time to be a complete success. The Indian argument is based on the fact that it is not ''100 percent foolproof.''
On the other hand, the DRS is a system wherein it can be reasonably stated that over 90 per cent of the time it gets the correct decision. There is little doubt that the DRS over a period could even achieve the 100 percent fool-proof mark that it has been designed for. But for that to happen it must be given a fair chance to succeed and one way is constant use of it involving the co operation of all concerned.