This had to be done... There aren't enough cynics around


                Much of the controversy in the recent matches can actually be extended to the medical world... The umpire is much like your physician, he doesn’t want to make mistake but on the occasion he does, heads roll and if the victim is powerful enough, the white coat guys’ head is included in the rolling list. Often envied as he has the best seat for a non-player and gets to wear the white coat (which actually is not much of a thing... it is a piece of clothing to keep spit/vomit/blood off the shirt inside), he actually has too much going on to enjoy the proceedings... And if he shows the finger to your favourite player-he is vilified.

                Although frankly, I don’t understand why the finger should make me feel abashed (good, your nerves are doing fine), we will not delve into that topic. With the pressure cooker situation and lives at stake -you can never discount the dunderhead fanboy who would kill himself if Dhoni’s helicopter crashed- having your every move scrutinized (especially by Ravi Shastry) doesn’t help. But having techniques to review them and make sure you are right definitely will. We will have some ‘traditionalists’ say that the new technology is a sham and is nothing more than a way of making you pay more, but they fail to see beyond the mundane dollar.
                Every investigation (hotspot/Southern blot/snicko/ELISA) have (among others) two important statistic indicators- Sensitivity and Specificity. A sensitive test doesn’t miss the disease, but it comes at a cost... some of those deemed by the test to have the disease actually don’t. In other words, it is used to rule out (SnOut is the often used shortcut to remember) as a negative result means the disease is probably not present. This is like the LBW thingy... You can say with certainty if the ball will miss the stumps or was pitched outside, but if it shows the stumps knocked off, he might still not be out (say an inside edge which this can’t pick up or the half of the ball rule). This is where the confirmatory tests come in...

                Confirmatory tests on the other hand, are meant to ‘rule in’ cases (SpIn, if you might). This is like the hotspot. You can be damn sure if there was an edge, but the cost here is that if there ain’t no spot, it doesn’t mean there was no edge (remember? the whole KP issue in the previous Ashes). But if you combine both of them and a good umpire, we can have a decent outing. With something relatively non-life-endangering as a sport, there are so many issues with a batsman’s life... So you can imagine what goes in the minds of the doctors who deal with actual lives and actual life threatening issues.
                The most important thing here is that these advancements, without the man behind them are as worthless as... (There are plenty of similes, none non-political enough to keep me out of jail). You need a man there and no amount of science is going to substitute the human brain, for, necessity might be the mother, but mistakes are the father of invention. Without erring, we cannot learn and although those are prices, with a choice, we wouldn’t have paid, but that is a choice not for us to make (don’t know what I meant, just too many commas and cups of coffee).

                Much like the umpire, a good doctor doesn’t hog the limelight for himself. He just lets things to take course for the best but with a difference. Unlike the impartial umpire, the doctor takes sides... He roots against death and illness in a match we all know we eventually will lose. But he tries hard to make the Innings, for as long as it lasts, worthwhile and satisfactory. But as a human, he too errs on occasion, but is not because he wants to, but the opposition’s attack is more virulent than Jim Laker and more unforgiving than Shane Warne. To be able to judge fairly, he needs reinforcements.

                That he needs help is not a sign of incompetence, for on a bad day (like for Bucknor vs India, 2004), without help, even the best can err-only, unlike the batsman, there is no second innings for the patient.


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