I get too excited when I see cricket mentioned in a mainstream magazine, so forgive me for quoting The Economist article on DRS again. Here, it explains how DRS has changed umpires’ views on the LBW:
Because umpires need to be confident that an LBW appeal fulfils all of [the] difficult criteria, they have historically been conservative when it comes to giving batsmen out. Batsmen, in turn, have long taken advantage of this tendency, particularly against the spinners. At their most blatant, they would simply plant their front foot a long way down the pitch, merrily kicking away delivery after delivery. Because the ball still had a long way to travel, they could rely on umpires’ uncertainty as to whether it was likely to have gone on to hit the stumps…Now that batsmen are forced to play with their bats, the contest has evened up, immeasurably enhancing the cricket.
I have talked before about how the rules of LBW should be open to the umpire’s interpretation (within reason). It is fine with me if some umpires are “not outs” and take a very conservative view of LBWs (i.e., a strict reading of the criteria), while others are more liberal (i.e., they want to punish batsmen for not using their bat) and can’t wait to send batsmen back to the pavilion. That’s part of the fun of the game.
The big danger of DRS, as I’ve noted before, is that it will standardize the adjudication of LBW and replace the umpire’s discretion with its own interpretation. Some people think it’s better that way because HawkEye is a machine and thus will deliver the One Truth, but others rightly note that HawkEye makes its own assumptions about bounce and swing and is as close to Truth as the rest of us. I belong to the latter camp.