Mahela Jayawardene, the former Sri Lanka captain who sits on the ICC cricket committee, has confirmed that a recommendation has been made to reduce the margin of umpire's call on the Decision Review System (DRS) which would lead to more batsmen being given out lbw.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo after the first day's play of the third Test at Lord's, Jayawardene, who attended the latest meeting last week after being appointed to the ICC cricket committee in May, revealed that the proposal is to reduce the margin by half. If the change is approved, only 25% of the ball would need to be hitting the stumps in order to overturn an on-field not out decision, instead of the current 50%.
That would have meant Jonny Bairstow being given out on 56 in England's first innings against Sri Lanka at Lord's. Instead, when Sri Lanka reviewed S Ravi's not out decision, a verdict of "umpire's call" was returned, with Hawk Eye showing the leg stump being struck by just fractionally less than 50% of the ball.
"We sat in the cricket committee last week and we decided that the 50% rule should be reduced to 25%, so that recommendation will probably go in and it's something for the stakeholders and ICC to take up," Jayawardene said.
"Even the MCC rule book says if it hits any part of the wicket it should be given out, so you are going away from all that with the 50% rule."
Jayawardene added that it was unfair for teams to lose a review when an lbw decision is so close to be being overturned. Research has shown that up to 80% of umpire's calls that currently remain on-field would be given out under the adjusted protocols.
"That argument has been there for the last three or four years when captains are losing reviews so that is another reason the reduction came into play," he said. "If you take 25% out, I think the stats say that 75-80% of the umpire's calls decisions would be given out. When umpires are considering benefit of the doubt I think 25% is okay, but 50% is too much."
Jayawardene's erstwhile Sri Lanka team-mate Kumar Sangakkara expressed his dissatisfaction at the current functioning of the DRS for lbw reviews, in the wake of Bairstow's reprieve. "High time the ICC got rid of this umpire's call," Sangakkara tweeted. "If the ball is hitting the stumps it should be out on review, regardless of [the umpire's] decision. With the umpire's call, technology is used as an excuse for the umpire making a mistake. Technology should ensure the correct decision's made.
"If the umpire wants a comfort zone, give him a margin of 20%," Sangakkara added. "If anything more of the ball is hitting it, his decision can be overturned."
The recommendations by the cricket committee will be discussed at the ICC's annual conference in Edinburgh at the end of the month, as part of a wider debate around the implementation of DRS.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has produced detailed research on the Hawk Eye and Hot Spot technology used for the DRS. There is a desire to bring in universal application of the DRS to avoid the current situation whereby differing levels of the technology are used around the world. India still refuses to use the system in bilateral series.