The DRS Technology as Idea: Senaka Weeraratna’s Inventive Mind

Senaka Weeraratna 

Both the DRS in Cricket and Goal Line Technology in Soccer have a common origin in the ‘Player Referral’ concept conceived by Senaka Weeraratna in 1997.

This was the first occasion in world history that a case was made (in 1997), using the analogy of the apellate function of the legal system, to press home the point that we needed to adopt it on the playing field in a modified form in combination with modern technology, i.e. video play back in the hands of Third Umpire, to determine the accuracy of a decision made by an on field or ground umpire by way of a Review System.

This mechanism (now known as the Decision Review System or DRS) is activated by a dissatisfied player on the batting or bowling side (like the way the appellate jurisdiction of the court is activated by a dissatisfied litigant). It was originally named as ‘Player Referral’ by the author of the concept Senaka Weeraratna, a lawyer who was then resident in Darwin, Australia. The national newspaper ‘ Australian’ first published the idea as a Letter to the Editor on March 25, 1997. Thereafter a series of newspapers and prestigious Cricket Journals in the cricket world carried it as a novel idea and innovation worthy of adoption to change the Rules of the Game. A pre existing fundament of the game was that the Umpire’s decision was final. Under the Player Referral concept (now DRS) it is not so. This sacrosanct feature of the game it was argued by the proponent must give way in the interest of better decision making, to uphold justice and the integrity of Cricket.

DRS which was first adopted by the game of cricket has also seen a number of other sports such as the high profile International Soccer, Tennis etc. incorporating this idea of Player Referral and goal line technology into the game. The use of goal line technology was last seen in the Finals of the World Cup Tournament between Argentina and France held in Qatar recently.

Finally, there is sufficient ground for the assertion that the brain child ‘ Player Referral’ of a Sri Lanka born lawyer namely Senaka Weeraratna which was conceived in Darwin, Australia is influencing not only Cricket, but also several other sports.

A NOTE from Michael Roberts as Editor, Thuppahi, 30 December 2022:

Senaka Weeraratne is a product of Royal college, Colombo, and a lawyer. Like most Royalists and most lawyers, he is as adamantine as persistent. He has been presenting his arguments for the spot of INVENTOR OF THE DRS for many decades.

The claim has not secured success: for the simple reason, as I speculate, that a small voice from a small island in the Indian Ocean carries little weight in the cumulus clouds of cricketing and soccer power. Poor us.

Let me note that Senaka and I met once at my sister’s house in Hampden Lane, Wellawatte maybe about 5-8 years ago. My late departed brother-in’law was an ardent Royalists and his sons (my nephews) represented Royal in several sports. The exchanges which Senaka and I had thenwere convivial.  I wish I could carry weight in ICC and FIFA circles. Maybe Kumar Sangakkara is the road to Valhalla for voices from an isle in the Indian Ocean.

The photo of Senaka displayed at the outset was taken when he was working in Darwin way back in time. Darwin is as influential in Australia as Sri Lanka is vis a vis the World. C’est la vie.



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