What is 'UMPIRE'S CALL' in DRS? All you need to know about LBW rules and DRS

The term "umpire's call" trended again recently after England captain Ben Stokes called for the rule to be scrapped following his side's massive loss to India in the third Test.

Mathew K
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Ben Stokes (Source: X)

Ben Stokes (Source: X)

Cricket is a beautiful game and it is not difficult to understand how the game is played. However, some rules can be confusing for fans and someone who is not very knowledgeable about the sport. The 'Decision Review System (DRS)' and 'Umpire's Call' are one such rules, often leaving fans scratching their heads at the thought of the procedure. 


DRS was inaugurated during India's Test series against Sri Lanka in 2008 and the system was officially introduced in November the following year. Seven years later in 2016, the Cricket Governing Body introduced the "umpire's call", and since then there have been mixed opinions about the rule.

The term "umpire's call" trended again recently after England captain Ben Stokes called for the rule to be scrapped. Following his side's massive 434-run defeat against India in the third Test, Stokes opinioned that there is no clarity about the rule. His comments were in the aftermath of opener Zak Crawley's controversial dismissal in the second innings in Rajkot. 

Just like Stokes, there are many fans out there who are confused about the rule and might not even know what the "umpire's call" is all about. In this article, we take an in-depth look at confusing LBW calls and explain how DRS and the "umpire's call" work.


What is an 'umpire's call' in DRS and how it works? 

DRS is a technology-based system that players can use to challenge an on-field umpire's call and help match officials make the right decision. Only the batter who has been given out by the on-field umpire or the fielding captain can ask for a review by showing a 'T' sign. Those challenging the call must do so within 15 seconds of the field umpire's decision. 

Reviews can be taken for various confusions like run out, leg before wicket (LBW), stumping and catch. However, LBW is one of the more controversial umpiring decisions in the game and has sparked many debates over the years. Using ball tracking technology, the outcome of the delivery is determined through a three-step process – pitching zone, impact zone and wicket zone. 

If the batter or captain decides to review (DRS) the on-field umpire's decision, the third umpire will make the final decision through the three-step process mentioned above using ball tracking technology. The "umpire's call" rule was introduced to encourage on-field umpires to make decisions and give them the benefit of the doubt in case of marginal lbw decisions. 

To make things more clear, if the on-field umpire's decision is proven wrong by DRS, he is forced to overturn it. Similarly, if the umpire's decision is wrong but by a very small margin or the third umpire's findings are inconclusive, it is called an "umpire's call" and the on-field umpire's decision will be final. Also, the team does not lose their reviews if the final decision involves an "umpire's call".

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