The ability to review umpire decisions looks set to come to the BBL and WBBL next season but league chief is adamant it must suit the T20 game and may not be the full international model
CA flags 'Big Bash-specific' DRS for 2021-22 summer
Next summer's Big Bash Leagues look increasingly likely to allow players to challenge umpiring decisions, but league boss Alistair Dobson has stressed it will look different to international cricket's Decision Review System.
Calls for Cricket Australia to introduce the DRS have grown louder in recent weeks following a handful of clear errors that have taken some of the spotlight in the 10th season of the KFC BBL.
Dobson revealed some form of review system would likely have been in place for this season had it not been for the crippling effects the pandemic has had on CA's budget.
A full-scale DRS could cost as much as A$2million for a full season. Taking the full suite of technologies like Ultra Edge, Hot Spot and ball-tracking to regional venues that have hosted BBL matches in recent seasons is a particularly costly exercise.
While Dobson said it would be difficult to change rules midway through BBL|10 to allow players to refer decisions, he suggested there is scope for a review system that is affordable, quick and effective at correcting obvious mistakes.
"There's clearly an opportunity to explore something for BBL|11 onwards," Dobson told cricket.com.au. "I'd say though that whatever we bring in needs to be 'BBL' in its nature, which I think is inherently different to the way others do it.
"Looking for something innovative and unique within some sort of umpire support or review process will be important … and also (needs to) suit the BBL, which aims to be as fast-paced as possible and with minimal disruption.
"We were a little bit of the way down the track to considering it but, for reasons from a cost perspective primarily, it was paused for this season."
"I'm not necessarily committed to the full international model if there are other options that can be BBL-specific."
The Indian Premier League began allowing one referral per match in 2018, while the DRS has also previously been used in the Caribbean Premier League, Bangladesh Premier League and Pakistan Super League.
BBL stars Glenn Maxwell and Usman Khawaja have been among those to cop decisions that likely would have been overturned on review this season, while an lbw call against Tom Cooper the batsman had hit, and then a caught-behind off Khawaja that clearly missed the bat on consecutive evenings only heightened scrutiny on umpires.
On Monday night, Adelaide Strikers batsman Matt Short was given out lbw to a ball that replays showed he had hit towards fine leg, with Fox Cricket commentators Adam Gilchrist, Mel Jones and Andrew Symonds all immediately noting a "woody" sound produced as Short played the shot.
The depth of officials has been tested this summer given top Australian umpires who otherwise would be standing for BBL games are instead in place for the Indian Test tour. The International Cricket Council is currently using local umpires in a bid to cut back on travel during the pandemic.
I’m sorry but who is in charge of the umpires in Australia ? Every game we see horrible mistakes & it’s embarrassing for the BBL completion ! The big bash is a wonderful tournament but it’s fast becoming a joke and could ruin players careers. Please can we have DRS immediately !— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) December 28, 2020
Dobson, who stressed that the current crop of umpires are overall doing a "terrific job", emphasised that perfection is not a reasonable goal.
"It comes back to 'what are we trying to solve for?'. When you bring in technology to review decisions, there is an inherent assumption that you're going to get every decision all of a sudden 100 per cent correct," he said.
"Is that the objective? Or is it to ensure that if there are any very clear errors, that they can be corrected quickly and effectively, as opposed to having every decision 100 per cent right."
Sydney Thunder captain Callum Ferguson and Fox Cricket commentator Gilchrist have been among those to suggest a scaled-back version of DRS would be favourable to none at all, though Mitch Marsh and Matthew Renshaw are among those to have said they would prefer to go "all-in".
The Australian Cricketers' Association's interim chief executive Joe Connellan said players would be supportive of a "compromise in the middle".
"I don't know that it's $1.5 million or nothing," Connellan told SEN on Monday. "It could be something that's a lot more cheap-and-cheerful that does eradicate the howler.
"I'm not sure you need all the bells and whistles to accompany short-form cricket – in fact it might slow it up too much."
Dobson also flagged that CA want any review system introduced for the men's BBL to also be available in the Rebel WBBL.
That would be a major step forward for women's cricket given the DRS is only regularly in place for World Cups, though England brought it in for a women's bilateral series for the first time when they played West Indies in September.
A major challenge for the WBBL is the fact that not every match is broadcast on television, although every game was live-streamed at a minimum.
That could mean some games would have a review system and others would not, though Dobson said that is not necessarily a barrier to its introduction.
"Our starting point would be to have as much equity (between the BBL and WBBL) as possible," said Dobson. "One of the factors is not every WBBL match is currently broadcast and whether every WBBL match would have to be played under the same conditions.
"If there's a game that's not broadcast, we'd have to, and our players would have to, be comfortable that some games may not have it (DRS).
"The WBBL is the best cricket league for women in the world and our ambition is to keep it that way."