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Umpire's call denied to players, reveals Sutherland

Daniel Brettig

October 11, 2013

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England players speak to Aleem Dar after a review adjudged Chris Rogers not out, England v Australia, 4th Investec Ashes Test, 2nd day, Chester-le-Street, August 10, 2013
The hesitance to allow teams to keep referrals denied on umpire's calls was also influenced by the prospect of a substantial increase in reviews © Getty Images
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The ICC decided against allowing teams to keep referrals that were denied on an umpire's call out of fear the game would be slowed down too much, even as it approved the introduction of a DRS "top-up" after 80 overs, the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has revealed. As he discussed the fall-out from the Nine Network's decision not to employ Hot Spot during this summer's Ashes series, Sutherland said the equity of umpire's call verdicts had been debated "long and hard" by the chief executive's committee at the most recent ICC meeting.

While Hot Spot's effectiveness and use has been a point of contention since the Ashes Tests in England earlier this year, the loss of referrals to tight decisions that have stayed with the umpire's original verdict created a similar level of discussion among players, spectators and administrators. Sutherland said it was still possible that such reviews would be handed back to the players, but admitted there was hesitance based on the possibility that the number of reviews may increase substantially.

"We debated umpire's call long and hard, and what was eventually decided was that they wanted to leave that pending for a little while," Sutherland said. "We agreed to the top-up after 80 overs. That will come back on the agenda, and it's not a bad idea. The ICC assessment is that if you don't lose a review for umpire's call, you will increase the number of referrals by at least double, and that will change the game. Everyone likes the idea of the referral being really valuable, and you need to think really carefully about using it, because it all comes back to the howler."

Sutherland denied that CA needed to step in to the stand-off between Nine and Hot Spot's ringmaster Warren Brennan, and rejected the notion that Australian cricket's governing body did not provide financial support in the way of other nations. He said that CA's rights fees factored in the broadcast costs of Nine, whereas other nations paid for production in-house and then charged at higher odds for the rights themselves. "Indirectly we're paying for it," he said.

"The first use of Hot Spot was all about broadcast enhancement. And in Australia that's been something Nine have sponsored and dealt with and had discussions with Warren Brennan and his company in the past, they've had arrangements that they've used successfully. We've never been involved with those discussions and never needed to be. That continues to be a commercial negotiation between those two.

"I've spoken with [Nine chief] David Gyngell about it, I know and understand from Nine's viewpoint they're not walking away from that and see it as an ongoing discussion. They certainly have concerns about Hot Spot in various ways, both commercially and in an operational capacity, and it's something they will work through. They've been able to sort it out in the past, so let's see if they can sort it out. This is still six weeks out from the series, it's not a unique circumstance where Nine and Hot Spot have had discussions about broadcast enhancements."

Debates about DRS have ranged from whether the system should be used at all to which technology is most reliable and which system makes the best use of it. Sutherland saw a tension around the issue of how much accuracy should be demanded from technology that will always have a certain margin of error, no matter how small.

"The biggest problem is what is your satisfaction level about imperfection," he said. "We can all say 'we know it's not perfect', but someone's acceptance of imperfect might be here and another's is 99.9%. That area of grey in between those two extremes is where this system gets into trouble. Not saying this is true, but as an example, do you accept the fact that if 80% of the time a nick will show on Hot Spot, but you know that 20% of the time it won't - do you accept that or not?"

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by popcorn on (October 16, 2013, 6:08 GMT)

Snicko is a MUST in the absence of Hot Spot.

Posted by David_Bofinger on (October 14, 2013, 1:08 GMT)

Hawk eye is notionally good to about 5mm, but the safety margin used is IIRC half the size of a ball - about 110-115 mm. That seems a lot. Perhaps we should trust it a little more than we do?

Posted by ScottStevo on (October 13, 2013, 20:16 GMT)

@JG2704, I disagree, the varying degrees of how wrong the umpires get it make no difference to the end result, so whether it's slightly wrong, or completely and utterly, ridiculously wrong, it's still wrong. @souravkr, I don't see how umpires reviewing every decision makes better use of the reviews as players would urge umpires to check every slight incident. The no ball is an odd one as the 3rd umpire needs to step in every delivery, or not at all. It's unfair on bowlers who are in a rhythm hitting their mark only to find out they've been no-balling all the while once a wicket is taken.

Posted by souravkr on (October 13, 2013, 6:33 GMT)

@ScottStevo- At least it ensures the time used up is utilized properly. You won't have batsmen reviewing clear edges in the hope that Hot Spot won't catch it, and howlers not being corrected because the team has no reviews left. And the TV Umpire should always remain in the game, and not be called to check a decision. If its not a no-ball, can't the TV Umpire just relay this back to the on-field Umpire then and there, without having a "Umpire Review"? As i said, 'Smart' umpiring is all that's needed.

Posted by geoffboyc on (October 12, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

Authorities are stuck between a rock and a hard place here; they are trying both to preserve onfield umpire's integrity and get all the decisions right. Why not go the whole hog; either give the decision making back to the two umpires out there and accept any mistakes without argument (MY PREFERENCE), or hand the decision making to the man in the pavilion watching on the TV whenever there's a doubt? Umpire's call is a fudge between the two.

Posted by JG2704 on (October 12, 2013, 17:45 GMT)

@dejfrith on (October 12, 2013, 10:40 GMT) So what you are saying is that those upstairs should be the only ones deciding on reviews? The problem with that is that I reckon those upstairs would be so worried about not reviewing something which should have been reversed that they'd review everything and delay the game even more which is surely what those in charge are trying to get away from? Or they could go the other way and miss something which should have been reversed. I have always been in favour of the players being in charge of reviews. They have a limited number of reviews anyway and no team can say "You looked at this one for them but not this one for us" which could happen if another official is in charge of it all So I think players having reviews limits any possible dissent too as they are in charge of what is looked at.

Posted by JG2704 on (October 12, 2013, 14:44 GMT)

@SC13159 on (October 12, 2013, 8:00 GMT) Fair enough but I could still see issues there

@ScottStevo on (October 11, 2013, 15:29 GMT) I'd say there's a difference between an incorrect decision and a bad decision/howler. If you look at the last Ashes series , the Broad decision could not be described as anything but a howler but there were those which fall into the incorrect decision category but not howler.

Brad Haddin's dismissal in the final inns of the 1st test was technically incorrect but you could never say it was a howler - the umpire missing such a thin edge. Even the review seemed to lack conviction

Posted by JG2704 on (October 12, 2013, 14:34 GMT)

@mikewright on (October 11, 2013, 11:41 GMT) Sorry but you seem to be contradicting yourself here. You say that the fielding side should lose a review for umpires call on LBWs (as it is not a howler) when the ball is clipping the stumps but you say they should NOT lose a review for an LBW where the ball clips the inside edge. That is not a howler either and at least with the ball clipping the stumps it is technically out and out if the umpire gives it. If the ball clips the bat before hitting the pad it is technically (LBW) not out. Sorry but that is really bizarre logic.

PS Also , umpires may be certain in their minds about LBW's and still get it wrong.

Posted by dejfrith on (October 12, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

It's been obvious to me ever since 1983, in Sydney, when John Dyson was reprieved in the first over when run out by a yard and then batted on for five hours (effectively costing England the Ashes), that the all-seeing eye upstairs must be brought in to establish the truth. Never did I envisage that the players in the field would be involved. They shouldn't be. Big Brother(s) off the field can order a freeze on play while they establish the truth of an incident/appeal. There will be delays - as there are now - but these delays will not lack tension. This way the restricted (and unfair) number of referral requests won't be a problem, and the precious truth will prevail every time. Keep the players out of it. Let's give the ICC a limit of a further five years to see the blinking obvious.

Posted by ScottStevo on (October 12, 2013, 9:42 GMT)

@souravkr, the major issue you'll have if the umpire's are given DRS, then they'll review almost every decision. Have a look at run outs, so few are decided on the spot by the umpire's - why? Well, it's much easier to use slo mo video than real time. An to exaggerage my point, you need only look at the ridiculous amount of times in recent test series where almost half a team's wickets are being looked at for no balls after the event. I somewhat agree with your viewpoint in that umpires have always been utilised to make all the decisions and we should all play by the umpire's rulings, in keeping with the traditional spirit of the game, however, in all honesty, the way in which umpire's are hung out to dry when errors are made, they'd have no choice but to review every decision and the game would be much worse for it.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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