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January 4, 2008
Technology is not the answer to improving umpiring standards because the science behind several innovations is not 100% accurate, according to a senior sports executive with Australia's Channel Nine. Poor decisions from the on-field officials in the Sydney Test between Australia and India have led to suggestions that the third umpire should have access to extra assistance on top of straight replays.
Nine uses its snickometer to demonstrate the sound of edges behind, Hawk-Eye and the strike-zone to judge lbw decisions and the infra-red Hot Spot camera to display whether the ball has hit the bat. However, Steve Crawley, an executive sports producer with the network, said some of the innovations could not be entirely relied upon.
"I'd hate us to be involved in the judicial system of cricket," Crawley told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We've only got one thing 100% backed up by science and that's Hot Spot; the others aren't 100%.
"Snicko is very well informed but it's not 100%, and Hawk-Eye's not 100%. And also there's the time-frame. Yesterday, with one of the decisions, Snicko, like all computer systems, went down and it had to be rebooted and it was four minutes before we got it up. Mostly, it's only a couple of deliveries but those sorts of things can happen."
Crawley said assisting umpires with side-on angles for run-outs was one thing but the lengthy process of using extra devices would provide too many interruptions to the game. "It's a long, dour game as it is but, from our point of view, we don't want that power," Crawley said. "But, if the ICC decides to go down that path, we'll co-operate."
Crawley's comments came as Sunil Gavaskar, the chairman of the ICC's Cricket Committee, said there was little chance the neutral-umpire rule would be removed any time soon. Steve Waugh wrote in his newspaper column that there was no reason the world's top official, Simon Taufel, should not stand in matches involving his own country, Australia.
"The reason the ICC and the world cricket community accepted third-country umpires was to eliminate the element of bias, or any suspicion that might have been pointed at umpires," Gavaskar told the Daily Telegraph. "That will be there for a while.
"I know there is some talk about having only the best umpires come in, but rather than have any controversy regarding decisions I think that [the current system] is probably a lot better. If a third-country umpire makes a [questionable] decision, it won't be as acrimonious as if a home umpire made that decision."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa