England in West Indies, 2008-09 March 10, 2009

Why the referral system may be written by monkeys

  A potentially nerve-jangling end to this largely drab series will certainly make a refreshing change, if only through having a day’s cricket in which the main talking point will be cricket, not the accursed referral system.
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The referral system’s effect has largely been to overturn correct decisions and uphold wrong ones © Getty Images
 
A potentially nerve-jangling end to this largely drab series will certainly make a refreshing change, if only through having a day’s cricket in which the main talking point will be cricket, not the accursed referral system.

To those uninitiated in the arcane, murky and incomprehensible processes of top-level sporting administration, the referral system appears either to have been myopically conceived, or to have been based on some cast-off pages found in the recycling bin of a special ICC room containing in Dubai an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters attempting to write a three-volume anthology of poems about David Boon.

The system is as confused and incomplete as a dog without a head, its obvious and easily remediable flaws exacerbated by umpiring that might as well have been carried out by the same bonceless pooch.

Daryl Harper has appeared to be umpiring a different game to the one taking place in Trinidad. (In fact, the closest match I have found based on the pattern of his decision-making suggests he has been hallucinating a Test between Australia and India from December 1967 in his hometown of Adelaide, and officiating, quite well, on that instead. When he gave Strauss not out after an edge to Ramdin that was both audible and visible, he thought he was turning down a caught behind appeal from Graham McKenzie against Farokh Engineer (correctly, as it happens – Engineer’s bat brushed the ground and wicketkeeper Barry Jarman only half appealed). Whether or not Harper attended this match, watched it on television, or listened to it on the radio, remains a matter for conjecture, but it clearly lodged in his subconscious and is now seeping out at an awkward time. And the only explanation for Aleem Dar failing to overturn the indecision was that he was understandably distracted by an escaped rhinoceros rampaging around the umpires’ room.)

The referral system’s effect has largely been to overturn correct decisions and uphold wrong ones. Why the predictive element of Hawkeye is not used is, frankly, a baffling piece of cricketing Ludditery. If the technology is trusted to track the ball accurately to the point of impact − the difficult bit, requiring complex and highly advanced equipment – why not allow it to complete the task by then predicting the remainder of a parabola – the scientifically simple part, requiring some a computer or a bendy ruler?

Science, the coquettish little vamp that she is, can predict for us where comets are going to be in 200 years’ time. I think the ICC could unleash science’s smart-arsed power to compute where a cricket ball would almost certainly be six feet from where it last demonstrably was. As it is, the TV umpire is being shown the ball’s path to impact, but then being forced to guess what happens next. In my experience, in matters of science, science will generally take more accurate and better informed guesses than guesswork. Which partially explains why I have never won a Nobel Prize for physics, whereas several physicists have.

There seems no reason why, within a couple of years, a properly managed combination of Hawkeye, Snicko, Hi-Motion and Hot Spot (coincidentally the names Tiffin, Harper, Dar and referee Alan Hurst use when they’re pretending to be a hip-hop group whilst warming up before the start of play) could not be able to produce a close-to-definitive verdict on most appeals within 30 to 40 seconds. Furthermore, with the Strauss non-dismissal yesterday, an elementary psychologist, or parent, could have taken look at the England captain’s face and told the on-field umpire that the batsman was at least 135% out.

At the moment, the half-use of only some of the available technology is tantamount to using the latest electronic medical equipment to diagnose an illness, then asking a child with a pair of scissors and a plastic stethoscope to perform the operation. If I may exaggerate wildly to make a point.

COMING SOON: The Confectionery Stall Review Of The Series, and, following on from The World’s Dullest XI, the Confectionery Stall World’s Most Unpredictable XI.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

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  • Ananth on April 1, 2009, 17:17 GMT

    As flawed as the referral system may be, its better than before; because some absolute shockers can be avoided. However I totally agree with you when you say that stuff like hawkeye, snicko, etc. should be used as well. Technology may not be foolproof, but is certainly a lot more reliable than umpires. For one, hawkeye and the others are impartial, and more importantly, they are seen to be impartial. Even though hot- spot hasn't recorded obvious nicks a couple of times, I'd say that so far, hot-spot has a higher success rate than any umpire; even Simon Taufel. But I'd still have umpires, who should be encouraged to go upstairs if there's enough doubt, with a sort of refined referral system with the third umpire having access to everything ranging from hawkeye to the hot-spot.

  • mo-ha on March 23, 2009, 11:17 GMT

    interesting that Bucknor had three decisions overturned after referrals during the Newlands test. Is just chance or is it at all possible that the system will impact on umpires'first time success rates? Will umps be less willing to make the hard decisions, knowing that they will probably be referred anyway? Does this put the batting team at a disadvantage?

    Also, regarding hip-hop crew member hot-spot, did anyone notice that it was caught spotless on a couple of occasions when the ball was obviously nicked?

  • Balaji on March 18, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    Science is a dangerous toy which has to be handled properly. ICC is messing with it!

    The cricket coverage media doesnt want to improve the technology that are available, may be because they are costly or may be because the controversies emerging from the field are more revenue generating than a simple correct decision!

  • Yash on March 16, 2009, 8:40 GMT

    Here's my take on the referral system.

    I believe the third umpire should only be used for referrals. All decision, including runouts and stumpings, should be taken by the on-field umpires. If the fielding captain or the batsman feels that the decision was wrong, then he can have it referred. This will probably stop people from going to the third umpire every time there's a direct hit, even though the batsman might be a foot in/out.

    The only other use the third umpire can be put to is those pesky boundary "did his foot touch the rope" decisions.

  • Hunter on March 12, 2009, 21:30 GMT

    The hawkeye system was tested in Australia and shown to be correct 999 times out of 1000 at predicting whether the ball was going on to hit the stumps. The umpires are about 50-75% accurate by comparison.

  • Arun on March 12, 2009, 20:55 GMT

    I'd be really careful using that simian reference, Mr Zaltzman. People have got into a lot of trouble over it. You might find Harper and co. not turning up for their umpiring duties, choosing to go fishing instead. You too might be affected, finding yourself overcome with an uncontrollable urge to slap other people. I'd recommend using critters from other families in the animal kingdom.

    That said, I agree with you on the issue of predictive hawk-eye. The issue is not if hawk-eye is 100% accurate - it can't, it's a mathematical model - but whether it's more accurate, precise and consistent than a human. Easily proven using statistics. As far as the delivery to Strauss goes, that freak delivery would've hit Strauss's pad way outside off-stump. Typically, umpires wouldn't give that out. That ball would've never taken a wicket had it struck the pad.

    At the moment, telecasters have no responsibility to caliberate hawk-eye. If it is used to make decisions, they need to. Is it that hard?

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  • avi converter on June 16, 2010, 23:36 GMT

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  • convert mkv video on June 1, 2010, 23:27 GMT

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  • Ananth on April 1, 2009, 17:17 GMT

    As flawed as the referral system may be, its better than before; because some absolute shockers can be avoided. However I totally agree with you when you say that stuff like hawkeye, snicko, etc. should be used as well. Technology may not be foolproof, but is certainly a lot more reliable than umpires. For one, hawkeye and the others are impartial, and more importantly, they are seen to be impartial. Even though hot- spot hasn't recorded obvious nicks a couple of times, I'd say that so far, hot-spot has a higher success rate than any umpire; even Simon Taufel. But I'd still have umpires, who should be encouraged to go upstairs if there's enough doubt, with a sort of refined referral system with the third umpire having access to everything ranging from hawkeye to the hot-spot.

  • mo-ha on March 23, 2009, 11:17 GMT

    interesting that Bucknor had three decisions overturned after referrals during the Newlands test. Is just chance or is it at all possible that the system will impact on umpires'first time success rates? Will umps be less willing to make the hard decisions, knowing that they will probably be referred anyway? Does this put the batting team at a disadvantage?

    Also, regarding hip-hop crew member hot-spot, did anyone notice that it was caught spotless on a couple of occasions when the ball was obviously nicked?

  • Balaji on March 18, 2009, 9:24 GMT

    Science is a dangerous toy which has to be handled properly. ICC is messing with it!

    The cricket coverage media doesnt want to improve the technology that are available, may be because they are costly or may be because the controversies emerging from the field are more revenue generating than a simple correct decision!

  • Yash on March 16, 2009, 8:40 GMT

    Here's my take on the referral system.

    I believe the third umpire should only be used for referrals. All decision, including runouts and stumpings, should be taken by the on-field umpires. If the fielding captain or the batsman feels that the decision was wrong, then he can have it referred. This will probably stop people from going to the third umpire every time there's a direct hit, even though the batsman might be a foot in/out.

    The only other use the third umpire can be put to is those pesky boundary "did his foot touch the rope" decisions.

  • Hunter on March 12, 2009, 21:30 GMT

    The hawkeye system was tested in Australia and shown to be correct 999 times out of 1000 at predicting whether the ball was going on to hit the stumps. The umpires are about 50-75% accurate by comparison.

  • Arun on March 12, 2009, 20:55 GMT

    I'd be really careful using that simian reference, Mr Zaltzman. People have got into a lot of trouble over it. You might find Harper and co. not turning up for their umpiring duties, choosing to go fishing instead. You too might be affected, finding yourself overcome with an uncontrollable urge to slap other people. I'd recommend using critters from other families in the animal kingdom.

    That said, I agree with you on the issue of predictive hawk-eye. The issue is not if hawk-eye is 100% accurate - it can't, it's a mathematical model - but whether it's more accurate, precise and consistent than a human. Easily proven using statistics. As far as the delivery to Strauss goes, that freak delivery would've hit Strauss's pad way outside off-stump. Typically, umpires wouldn't give that out. That ball would've never taken a wicket had it struck the pad.

    At the moment, telecasters have no responsibility to caliberate hawk-eye. If it is used to make decisions, they need to. Is it that hard?

  • Ron Mukerji on March 12, 2009, 14:34 GMT

    Andy while you are basically right, no need to go over the top for the sake of a column! If only you didn't try so hard....that Physics nobel prize may still come your way. Cheers

  • james on March 12, 2009, 13:40 GMT

    Isnt it racial insult to use the word "monkey" when talking about cricket. "someone" might get really upset

  • Alex on March 12, 2009, 13:37 GMT

    "Hawkeye, Snicko, Hi-Motion and Hot Spot" for Tiffin, Harper, Dar and referee Alan Hurst? I would have thought Bozo, Krusty, Harlequin and Ronald McDonald would be more fitting names. Anyways, why don't they just replace all the post referral new-fandagled technology with a new rule whereby the first capiatin to yell out 'olly olly oxen free' wins a contentious referral decision? Or just scrap the referral and settle the decision with a quick game of two-up on the pitch? So easy. And brings a new dimension to the term 'gambled his wicket away..."

  • Dave on March 12, 2009, 13:06 GMT

    stornjo has it right - get rid of the technology and let the on-field umps decide, end of story. If they make a mistake, so what? Batsmen, bowlers & fielders also make mistakes. Sometimes its windy, sometimes not. Sometimes hard to see, sometimes too hot. Umpires are just another variable and variables are what makes the game exciting and worth watching in the first place.

    Secondly, the technology is not proven (see many other posts). I think there is probably some TV producer drawing the Hawkeye line manually onto the screen.

    Thirdly, someone else raised the interesting issue, that the TV stations decide which replays & technologies are available. What's to stop the hawkeye "breaking down" or the critical replay angle being "unavailable" coincidentally at the same time when the biggest drawcard player (Pieterson, Dhoni, whoever) is part of a referral case?? Its in the TV stations' interest to keep those kind of guys on the field.

  • Ian on March 12, 2009, 10:52 GMT

    Personally im a purist, sometimes the ump's make a mistake but the majority of the time they are pretty spot on. The mistakes generally work themselves out over the career of a player. Personally I agree with Parnab, If the onfield Umps make a mistake then the players act accordingly, then if needed the 3rd ump can over rule the onfield ump. Simple!!! This referal system is just a TV gimmick and a joke!

  • Ashley on March 12, 2009, 10:26 GMT

    PS I love you Andy.

  • Ashley on March 12, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    True/False: 1. The referral system was brought in to correct incorrect decisions. 2. The referral system was brought in to rapidly increase a) revenue (by creating another opportunity for an ad-break), and/or b) spectator interest the game (more column inches devoted to discussing the days play).

    (Should I have written True/Absurd?)

    3. The current referral system is JUST NOT CRICKET. 4. The referral system should be replaced by the Surprise Third Umpire 'Time Out' system ("STUTOS)* or ("STUMP TIME OUT"). 5. Cricket (sport in general) is only going to get MORE professional. 6. A cricket (player and/or umpire) career is at stake every time an umpire makes a decision. 7. Umpiring decisions MATTER. 8. The toss of the coin can stay. 9. Synthetic pitches computer-designed to match exactly the one used in the tied Test will happen in our lifetime.

    *STUTOS DEFINITION 1. Third Umpire reviews all deliveries 2. When he/she Hotspots/Snickometres/HiMotions/Hawkeyes or even Nakedeyes an ele

  • weez on March 12, 2009, 6:17 GMT

    At first I was in favour of referrals (could have saved a few careers), but the more I see of it, the less I like the idea. It's a bit like taking away bouncers from fast bowlers - now you even take away their lucky wickets - since removing bouncers batsmen average 10 runs more (everybody who can hold a bat averages 40 - wasn't like that 10 year ago) - We might as well not keep stats if this is where it's heading - soon they'll all average 50. I know bowlers have a shot at getting a wicket on a referral but the benefit of the doubt will always save batsmen - so who wants to be a bowler...

  • iwannaBhadlee on March 12, 2009, 5:09 GMT

    No hawkeye.Its just a gimmick for the tv, although it is handy for seeing where the ball pitched that is it But snicko and hotspot should be used Im actually baffled they are not as the are both more reliable than slow motion No point in using technology that dosnt work while omittingtechnology that does

  • Shantesh Row on March 11, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    What baffles me most, Andy, is why the whole wide world is allowed to watch Hawkeye's prediction and come to a conclusion, when the one or two men who need to see it and come to a conclusion, so that they don't make a bad decision, so that a cricketer's career might not reach a conclusion. are not allowed to watch it?

    It's like banning Ron Jeremy and Tera Patrick from watching a pornographic scene done together, so that their minds won't come to a corrupted conclusion.

  • Matt on March 11, 2009, 15:19 GMT

    Let me make sure my tinfoil hat is adjusted correctly...

    OK, now. Has anyone considered that the atrocious decision-making was a deliberate effort by the umpires to turn the referral system into a farce, thereby ensuring it is abandoned, thus leaving their jobs secure.

    Paranoid? Sure. But can anyone else explain how individuals who you'd normally trust to make the correct call from one real-time naked-eye view made such a debacle of so many calls when they had so much technological assistance?

    As others have said: the problem is not the technology, it's the application.

  • Anthony Dienst on March 11, 2009, 15:09 GMT

    I can't understand what all the fuss is about Hawkeye. It is a computer system - it doesn't make any assumptions, but uses factual observations of where a ball was at all times in 3-dimensional space. A ball in motion has inertia, which means it's trajectory will be smooth, even if swinging from left to right, or dipping. The physical conditions and the speed and the spin on the ball all affect the position in 3D space at any point, but the effect of them is all incorporated in the data available to the system, and it tracks the logical continuation of the path of the ball towards the stumps. So, if, for example, the ball has started to seam away after bouncing, Hawkeye will be able to detect the seaming before it becomes evident to the naked eye (with or without replays). Similarly, if there is spin on the ball, that will affect the trajectory after bouncing, and Hawkeye will predict a smooth trajectory allowing for the effect of the spin as evidenced by the data.

  • Jay on March 11, 2009, 14:44 GMT

    How will any sensible country ( read China et al) be attracted to this game when the laws, rules ,whatever are so arcane and the umpires are so obviously unable to perform

  • dfin on March 11, 2009, 13:14 GMT

    It is my belief that the referall system was for gross errors only i.e. inside edge on lbw, clips pad not bad on lbw. Any close decisions should follow the onfield umpires view, otherwise what is the point of umpires at all.There will always be as there always has been mistakes made that effect the game in some way, get over it. 1 referall only get it wrong thats it

  • Moonraker on March 11, 2009, 12:33 GMT

    If umpires can't get decisions right even when they're using the technology what hope is there?

  • Gareth Strachan on March 11, 2009, 9:51 GMT

    Why can't all the camera angles and predictive, snicking, hotspotty hawkeyes be used in unison - not to prove anything as such but to give the third umpire all the info that TV watchers have. He then makes a decision based on what he's seen. He could even be in a pub with his mates...

    The umpires shouldn't be shackled by how they use the technology. It's too limiting at the moment. Vic Marks said of the Sarwan 'not out' LBW decision in the second innings that - with the views he was allowed to see - the third umpire could really only agree with the on-field umpire. Had the referral been against an 'out' decision, the same third umpire would have upheld that decision too. The monkeys need to write some better rules (or maybe we need better third umpires).

  • Sam Sooppersaud on March 11, 2009, 6:27 GMT

    It you are going to use technology to "get things right" why not go all the way? Use Hawkeye, sniko, audio, etc. Why is it that the third umpire in limited to only finding irrefutible evidence that the onfield umpire has made a mistake/ Why not let him us all available rtecnological means to advice the onfield umpire on the corredct ruling. So far the review systen and how it is run is a farce

  • Sam Sooppersaud on March 11, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    It oyu are going to use technology to "get things right" why not go all the way? Use Hawkeye, sniko, audio, etc. Why is it that the third umpire in limited to only finding irrefutible evidence that the onfield umpire has made a mistake/ Why not let him us all available rtecnological means to advice the onfield umpire on the corredct ruling. So far the review systen and how it is run is a farce

  • Sam Sooppersaud on March 11, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    It oyu are going to use technology to "get things right" why not go all the way? Use Hawkeye, sniko, audio, etc. Why is it that the third umpire in limited to only finding irrefutible evidence that the onfield umpire has made a mistake/ Why not let him us all available rtecnological means to advice the onfield umpire on the corredct ruling. So far the review systen and how it is run is a farce

  • Chetan on March 11, 2009, 5:11 GMT

    ICC have apparently setup the referral system with a view to ensuring that it fails. That way, they can say we have tried & failed to remove the umpire's right to incorrectly impact a result. There can be no reason linked to honesty & integrity for this. ICC have refused to implement basic suggestions from me- Do away with the 3rd umpire. If TV replays prove that a batsman was out but waited for "human error" from an umpire, he is selected-suspended for the next 10 days of Intl. cricket played by his team. His team plays with 10 players. Fielder / bowler appeal incorrectly & get a wicket they do not deserve, same penalty applies to both of them. Teams may have their own reps watching TV replays to request for a reversal of incorrect wait / appeal from their team members. Black-list of players who try to abuse "human error" from umpires to be circulated & umpires instructed that benefit of doubt goes against these players.

  • jogesh99 on March 11, 2009, 4:19 GMT

    What ye so blindly impressed by techno-gimmickery should demand is a simplificaton of the laws of the game so that your idiotic devices won't have to deal with ambiguity and can be correct every time. For instance, its out LBW if the ball hits the batsman's leg, any leg (lets just call it ALBW to avoid legal implications - what with all those jobless lawyers in England ravening for a sue) - forget the trajectory and the line of pitching and all the other nasty, misleading, anti-technology real world variations.

  • LMFAO on March 10, 2009, 22:27 GMT

    funny as usual. but watch out, calling ppl monkey can get u into trouble..remember bhajji-symonds?

  • a paul on March 10, 2009, 22:18 GMT

    fair play that a good comment with what you side about lara he realy play a gentlyman game he walk when he know he is out i never see a next batman t do that.

  • Anon on March 10, 2009, 22:08 GMT

    To respond to Agent Aleph's post: that is completely wrong. In fact in the one small test that was done on Hawk-Eye's predictive path by the MCC, the accuracy was shown to be the same as the accuracy of the rest of Hawk-Eye's tracking; less than 3mm. The only reason the test was small, was that the ICC was not interested in testing the accuracy of the predictive path as it was felt that using it for decision-making would "change the fabric of the game". Also to respond to James, the oodles of cameras run at only 25 frames per second, whereas Hawk-Eyes cameras run over 4 times that rate. The laws of cricket state that over 50% of the ball has to pitch inline with the stumps for an LBW to stand, and any part of the ball has to be inline with the stumps when the batsman is struck. The frame-rate of the normal TV cameras is far too coarse to judge this, and Hawk-Eye have been shown in tests with the MCC to have an accuracy of below 3mm - far better than any human eye.

  • Luke on March 10, 2009, 21:53 GMT

    the referal system needs to go it just takes to long to make simple decision.

  • GPT on March 10, 2009, 21:52 GMT

    Solution is quite simple. My mate Hame and I become the referral people. We sit in a box with a few beers and when there is a referral we take a close look at the first replay. We then either say "close enough" or "hmmmm". If one of us says "hmmmm" then we look at another replay and hopefully get a bit of hotspot action. Having watched a maximum of three replays we ask ourselves one question - was the umpire clearly wrong? If the decision was not a complete clanger then it stands and we go back to beer. If it was then it is overturned and we go back to beer. Not interested in 47 replays to decide whether the ball may or may not just hit or just miss the top of leg stump. The point is to remove howlers not the umpires.

  • Abis Husein on March 10, 2009, 21:50 GMT

    I'm pretty sure it wasn't written by monkeys, it can't be. Monkeys are very intelligent beings and I fail to see any kind of intelligence behind it.

  • tony flemmings on March 10, 2009, 21:48 GMT

    I cannot understand why england have a total of 5 l.b.w"s in five matches and W.I has 22 in the same number of matches. COME ON IS THIS REALY FAIR.

  • Vasimul Khan on March 10, 2009, 21:38 GMT

    Do away with the referral system. The English sytem to conquer cricket would have to done in a fair manner

  • Michael on March 10, 2009, 21:05 GMT

    Andrew a little earlier makes a pertinent point - the referral system is meant to eliminate glaring mistakes, not manipulate line-ball decisions. I think the current series is showing players wanting to receive the benefit of the doubt in every possible instance, rather than using the referral system judiciously, as is meant to be the case.

    One must be aware, amongst cricket's progressiveness, of undermining the umpire's confidence in making split-second decisions (a completely different issue from the competency of (particularly 3rd) umpires).

    James Aldous also makes a great point about Hawkeye. I'm staggered by the almost reverential awe this technology is held, as there have been instances (not bucketloads, but enough) when the predictive path shown by Hawkeye appears inaccurate to the naked eye (in my opinion). It no doubt tracks the ball perfectly up to the point of contact, but beyond that I would settle for an umpire's judgment - it is after all what they are paid for.

  • safwan on March 10, 2009, 20:57 GMT

    Aleem dar is a very very good umpire.....so is taufel.....i think these two shud supervise all test matches......which is humanely impossible.....therefore why not have robots supervise the other games?

  • Faucher on March 10, 2009, 20:54 GMT

    I think the review system should be laid to bed in one of the Egptian pyrimids until the ICC get it right....on another note, EX TRAS scored 100 runs for West Indies in this match..WHAT A BATSMAN!!!

  • Pro Mal on March 10, 2009, 20:45 GMT

    Couldn't agree with you more....... I would certainly trust my wicket more to science than to the predictive capabilities of seemingly inane umpires! And I am a physicist (professional) and a cricketer (amateur)!

  • Bob on March 10, 2009, 20:37 GMT

    fabulous article

  • Dileep K on March 10, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    Cheered me up thanks.

  • Rishva on March 10, 2009, 20:13 GMT

    Examples of when the referral system made the game fair to everyone – In the last test series against India and Sri Lanka, the ball brushed Tendulkar’s glove and went to the keeper. The on-field umpire could not see it, but the camera view from behind the keeper could clearly see it. The game needs the referral system to get such on-field decisions overturned! So, please don’t kill it! Tendulkar should have been out, and it is very unfair had he stayed on to score a century. Same goes for Rahul Dravid’s bat-pad catch!..when Dravid refused to walk off, the referral system got it right and sent him to the pavilion!

    Therefore, don’t kill the system simply because its operators are at fault. Get the operators corrected and you will love the system! Please force the 3rd umpire to overturn an on-field decision only when he sees evidence against it, without any reasonable doubt!

  • Rishva on March 10, 2009, 20:07 GMT

    ICC has to do only two things to get this system fine tuned and be acceptable; (1) Allow the hawk-eye in the decision making process. Until the ball hits the stumps, the ball should be tracked using hawk eye. After all, the TV viewer sees it, so why not the 3rd umpire makes use of it? Those who criticize the system form their opinions from the hawk-eye tracking, so their criticisms are relative to hawk-eye’s accuracy. Therefore, the system cannot survive unless the 3rd umpire is shown all of the things the spectators, commentators and those who are in the dressing rooms see.

    (2)Ask the 3rd umpire not to overturn an on-field decision unless there is no conclusive evidence against it. Example – In the last test series against India and SL, the ball brushed Tendulkar’s glove and went to the keeper. The on-field umpire could not see it, but the camera view from behind the keeper could clearly see it. The game needs the referral system to get such on-field decisions overturned!

  • Calvin Weliwita on March 10, 2009, 19:54 GMT

    stornjo; Why only talk of Baseball, when Tennis and American Football two sports that successfully use referral systems are not mentioned? You are as inconsistent as on-field umpires! As Geff Boycott and Michael Holding mentioned, there is nothing wrong with the system, it is all to do with the 3rd umpire who made the calls. It is this very same umpires who make those on-field decisions and if they cannot make a simple decision correctly with the help of TV slow motions and replays, how the hell do you trust them to make on-field decisions in a split second without having to see the play again? That is not fair, and their decisions are definitely not consistent either. It is time that cricket as a sport mature and use the available Technology to the maximum.

    Thanks.

  • Cam on March 10, 2009, 19:39 GMT

    I agree that Hawkeye (and other technologies) aren't perfect, but why do we expect them to be? Yes, there is always the chance some freak incident will happen and mess up the calculation. However, even if they only get the decision right 19 times out of 20, or even 9 times out of 10, isn't that better than what we have? We'd be ecstatic if umpires got the decision right that often!!

    The real problem is that right now, Joe Bloggs sitting at home watching Sky with a beer would be a better umpire than even the best umpire on the field, simply because the average cricket watcher has so much more information at his disposal. The umpires are basically being forced to make decisions "blind". We can no longer take the village route and say "well it'll probably go our way next time" because it's no longer "have a go" village cricket - tons of money and people's careers potentially rest on every decision.

  • GoodCricketWicket on March 10, 2009, 19:37 GMT

    Aside from the debate about technology (I fall on the side of the pro-tech camp), the other problem is the amount of time they take. Several minutes often go by, and West Indies used this to try and slow the game in Trinidad.

    60 seconds should be the time limit, if the umpire can't find indisputable evidence of an error in that time, the onfield decision should stand. After all, it is designed to eliminate the obvious mistake not the questionable decision.

  • Ravinder on March 10, 2009, 19:34 GMT

    Hawk-eye may not be a 100% accurate, but its a lot more accurate then someone "guessing" where the ball is going.

    Some people are saying that hawk eye can't be accurate, because "the trajectory depends on bounce of pitch, weather conditions, the bowlers natural/unnatural swing, etc", but all these things are taken into consideration, the ball is tracked until the point of impact, therefor it must have already bounced, swung, seamed. All hawk eye does is extends the path of the ball till the stumps, so the ball is tracked accrately until the point of impact, which means the ball has already travelled 80% of its flight path and predicting the otehr 20% isn't difficult. And if the batsman is hit on the full then the rules of the game say that the umpire must assume that the ball would have kept going straight (and hawk-eye also assumes this). I really don't see what the problem is?

  • Asif on March 10, 2009, 19:31 GMT

    1. Few things turn out perfect from the get-go. Give referrals a chance - it'll be better once we kink out the problems.

    2. At best, referrals will correct umpire's mistakes. At worst, it provides entertainment and a judge of players' decision making skills. Positives either way, as I see it.

    3. Point of not using hawkeye projection is that umpires should not be subject to conjecture. The technology should only reveal the facts and leave the conjectures to the umpires themselves.

    4. The original point of referrals was to correct obvious mistakes (lbws after inside edges, no-bat close catches etc). But it is being abused by players for some not-so-clear-cut decisions. That is why I reiterate - give it time to sort out its deficiencies and it will be better.

  • James Aldous on March 10, 2009, 19:28 GMT

    (Continued from previous entry.)

    ... Thus, as an experimental physicist, I would have to say that any use of predictive Hawkeye should be accompanied by clear and scientific error bars. It is for this reason that I sometimes detest the use of Hawkeye in tennis - how calls can be upheld or overturned when the smallest slivers of the ball are said to be crossing or just missing the white line sends me into a blind rage.

    Whilst science and technology is advanced, it clearly has limitations and they have to be taken into account when considering how the technology is to be used and applied.

  • James Aldous on March 10, 2009, 19:19 GMT

    Good comments - as usual Andy - however as a physicist I'd like to make a comment re. the use of predictive technology. If the ICC is sensible, they wouldn't use Hawkeye to tell the umpire where the ball had been prior to striking a batsman - there are oodles of cameras with actual live pictures to impart information on there the ball pitched and struck a batsman. However, when you start to make predictions, things can - and often - go wrong. Remember Shane Warne's ball to Andrew Strauss in the 2005 Ashes that pitched about two feet outside off and took out leg? As freaky and unique a delivery as it was, Hawkeye believed its trajectory was unphysical and believed the ball to have been a pigeon. Moreover, the prediction requires an accurate assessment of the initial conditions - any innacuracy in measuring where the ball initially was (and there are always inaccuracies in measuring things) will lead to uncertainy in where the ball will be after striking the batsman.

  • Andrew on March 10, 2009, 19:12 GMT

    The objective of the referral system is to eliminate the shocking decisions, like bastmen being given out caught of the helmet or lbw after getting a thick edge. Therefore, my suggestion would be to only allow batsmen to use it, and only one incorrect referral per innings. Therefore, when a bastman knows 100% that he is not out, he can use it. This keeps in line with the "batsman gets the benefit of the doubt" philosophy, minimizes the use of the system, and ensure it is used for its intended purposes.

  • Chat on March 10, 2009, 19:12 GMT

    I agree with the author, somewhat. But, Hawkeye cannot predict because the trajectory depends on bounce of pitch, weather conditions, the bowlers natural/unnatural swing, etc. Unless all these variables are part of an algorithm, one cannot rely on hawkeye for predictions.

  • Arzoo on March 10, 2009, 19:11 GMT

    I dont understand, why ppl always try to prove referral system as bad. It has been introduced to reduce the number of mistakes/errors done by on field umpire by providing a second judgment option. The intention is very good. However, its the people who applies this may be wrong! We all heard the sound and deviation was visible as well still Straus was NOT OUT. So, its not the fault of the system but the person who applies it. So, who should not blame or talk bullshit about about referrals in stead we should voice out against the umpires who makes mistake even though they can see whats happening.

  • rr on March 10, 2009, 18:46 GMT

    I agree that for lbws they simply ought to use hawk-eye's final verdict, except in the cases where only a part of the ball is calculated to be hitting the stumps (in those cases go with the on-field umpire's initial call)

  • Chris on March 10, 2009, 18:43 GMT

    I think the monkeys may be the people applying it, not those making it!

    Surely the concept of having to have clear evidence to overturn a decision, NOT to just make their own decision, is simple enough?!

  • Ishan on March 10, 2009, 18:26 GMT

    They should try this once, they should take 10 random deleveries, see where they pitch and "judge" using the hawk-eye. And hen actually see where it goes, if it is 100% accurate, then bring it on. But i doubt that.

  • agent aleph on March 10, 2009, 18:24 GMT

    it's not simple to predict where the ball is going to be as there are a large number of unknowns in the equations. On top of this the equations themselves are only (fairly close) approximations of the motion. Tests have been run on hawkeye, 'freezing'the data of a ball at a point along its path and asking hawkeye to predict the rest of the motion. The predictions frequently do not correspond exactly to the actual path of the ball.

  • bivu on March 10, 2009, 18:22 GMT

    -anybody who has been at least a moderately good student of science at any level of their carrier will understand that this cricketing phenos fall in a very primary level domain of dynamics.science is predicting accurately about much much more complex phenos than this with utmost disdain.let the scientists who developed this technique set forth all the rules.they know exactly what can go how much wrong more than these idiots!!and then watch out !!

  • kyky on March 10, 2009, 18:20 GMT

    if not for the "monkeys"..."great" tendulkar never departted. sl-india series.

  • bala on March 10, 2009, 18:10 GMT

    To me it is not about getting the right decisions or not(largely it is helpful),but it make me want to break my TV whenever a referral takes place.It seems to be ages before all the "necessary information" reaches the on field umpires.Why not trust the man watching the TV ? Like the run out decisions using a flashing red light? See the box get it done whenever a player wants referral.

  • Naresh on March 10, 2009, 18:01 GMT

    Regarding Hawkeye's prediction: The trajectory of the ball is not a parabola, and therefore a simple ruler will not do. The trajectory will depend on the spin imparted on the ball, the position of the seam, the asymmetry of the ball etc., and it would be naive to assume a parabola. Remember Wasim Akram's ball to Robert Croft in 1996, given not out? If the ball only followed a parabola, swing and drift wouldn't exist and batting would terribly easy.

    The referral system has been unsuccessful, but blame the third umpire and not the technology. Enough technology was available to the third umpire not to make the blunders we've seen.

  • Arnab on March 10, 2009, 17:50 GMT

    Make the third umpire akin to the umpire in tennis - ie overrules only in the case of an obvious mistake. Typically, inside edges, bump balls at short leg, pitching outside leg or hitting outside the line.

    And no referrals per se. The batsman or bowler accepts the on-field decision and acts accordingly - the third umpire informs the on-field one if required by the time the bowler is back at his mark.

    Therefore, for international matches, make the third umpire God and make it an international/neutral one. Have one (or even two) local ones on the field - this way you also build up umpiring competency as the omnipotent one will be watching!

    Easy....

  • Kurt Dallas on March 10, 2009, 17:47 GMT

    Its just being interpreted by three idiots....

  • Kevin on March 10, 2009, 17:29 GMT

    Was that catch by Collingwood legal. Didn't it hit the ground and why is it not being shown in slow motion?

  • Faisal Jafri on March 10, 2009, 17:24 GMT

    I believe the referral system can be improved and does have a place in the 'new' game which is no longer a gentleman's game. Proof of that is when Chanderpaul. For me his bat hit his foot hence the sound that Mr.Botham and Atherton got so excited about. And now recently as I watch the game Simmons has been cuaght in the slips by Collingwood where it seems that there is a chance the ball may have scraped the ground. The fielder did not even have his eyes on the ball. Yet Mr. Botham feels its a clean catch well taken. Great! The referral system to my mind is not only needed to iron out the errors made by umpires but also to weed out the 'gamesmanship' excercised my today's modern players-whhich borders on plain cheating. I say that because where an umpire may make a mistake anyone having played any cricket will tell you that players, fielders are generally aware when something is amiss. So the referral system is not only for umpires it reveals the how the game has detriorated in spirit.

  • Siddhartha on March 10, 2009, 17:00 GMT

    Hahaha...funny column, i think why they're not using the rest of the hawkeye (from the impact point to the stumps) is 'coz they think it won't be accurate enough, which is stupid.Why employ it in the first place , if it is not accurate enough? As of the umpiring, wat abt the umpiring in the IND -NZ series?... Some ridiculous decisions are being made, like the one of Sehwag caught behind in Wellington (2nd ODI) or the lbw of Guptill in the 3rd one...

  • Ramdas on March 10, 2009, 16:58 GMT

    Man I though Monlkey was a racist word. At least Symonds thinks so

  • Akshay on March 10, 2009, 16:54 GMT

    It makes me pull out my hair when i see the ball path not being projected. I think the LBW refferal should be simply given to a computer generated program. I mean the rules are plain and simple. We do not need Nasser Hussain to tell them to us every time and create doubt in the first place and then talk of its benefits. We should take out the 3rd umpire human element it's just plain stupid and adds to the confusion In case of Daryl Harper and in case of bucknor it takes too much time as he has to be woken up to make a call.

  • Keith Bennett on March 10, 2009, 16:50 GMT

    Writing on CricInfo is normally of high quality, but these sounds like something lame we get in the newspapers here in Queensland sometimes. While I agree there are problems with the system, I think it has its place (I'm speaking as someone who's old fashioned and normally shuns such things), but I can't believe people actually want the predictive part of HawkEye used. I just don't see how it can be trusted to predict where a ball is going to go. To me, it's rubbish.

  • Pikth on March 10, 2009, 15:50 GMT

    lol @ robot but that should be much to implement even now. we have the technology for it already

  • FAIR PLAY on March 10, 2009, 15:46 GMT

    players should be fined when they are blatantly out and they stand there and wait for referrals. isn't cricket all about fair play and a gentleman's game and all that. Strauss knew he was out everyone except the on field umpire knew he was out. how does standing there make u look as a person and also as a sportsman. Lara was one of those players who walked no matter what the umpire did, we need more players like this as well

  • dave on March 10, 2009, 15:04 GMT

    The only reason this technology has been introduced is because the TV companies want increased 'interest' in the game from these challenges, the subsequent delay that they can dress up as tension-building and then the decisions giving commentators something extra to 'talk about', i.e. say things that are deliberately provocative and are often demonstrably and intentionally without any base in fact.

    TV owns cricket. That's why referrals are here and that's why they'll stay. The TV companies have no interest in explaining to umpires (or anyone) how the technology works and exactly what it can and can't do because that would result in more sensible decisions and thus less for the commentators to moan about.

    Indeed it is a TV company employee (producer, director??) who chooses what the 3rd umpire sees, not the umpire. The TV company is probably the party whose interests are best served by providing inconclusive evidence so this clearly reduces the chances of correct decisions resulting

  • pietro on March 10, 2009, 14:46 GMT

    Andy - love your posts. Your comment 'There seems no reason why, within a couple of years, a properly managed combination of Hawkeye, .....' says it all. It most situations it would take a couple of days/weeks/months to recognize and implement such a practical solution. With the bumbling, amateur, politicized ciphers who run cricket a couple of years actually sounds optimistic.

  • stornjo on March 10, 2009, 14:19 GMT

    Please leave officiating to humans. Keep it simple. No referrals. No technology. Umpires are part of the playing conditions. Some are more likely to give LBWs than others. In baseball it is accepting that some umpires have larger strike zones than others, and if you don't want to be given LBW or Caught behind, then hit the ball with the middle of your bat. Give the run-outs and stumpings back to the humans too. I used to marvel at how often the humans got them right.

  • Sagar on March 10, 2009, 14:17 GMT

    Hilllarioussssss! Can't agree more on the idiocracy of thinking an umpire's guess of projected path will be better than the computer's calculation...

    I would actually propose to do away with on-field umpires and replace them with a robot that can be programmed to judge the noballs, wides , leg byes etc. We can have one match refree who can stand somewhere on the field as long as not obstructing the play, to judge the conduct of the game.

    Players can make appeals to the robot by either showing hands before a sensor or by clicking a button on the robot standing at the same spot an umpire stands today!

    I belive this is not sci-fiction but really possible!

  • Phil on March 10, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    Fantastic comments! I agree wholeheartedly with all of your metaphors and similes though without a blog on which to release my disgust at the way it's been implemented I must rage, for the most part, silently. Hopefully someone who's opinion actually matters is of the same mind as every single person who's opinion means nothing and the ICC can employ the use of the full technology. Which is, after all, the whole point of having umpire referrals in the first place.

  • poopsie on March 10, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    What I have found fascinating about the referral system is not so much how the administrators have managed to make it fail, but how the cricket public can now look on its heroes. Many of greats of the game have been shown to be ruthless in not giving their wickets away by calling for a referral, when they know full well they are out. I am not against the player in this instance, but I am hoping that it opens the publics mind to appreciate that their heros are not as innocent in the way the game is played as they believe.

  • Rob H on March 10, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    Harry - I knew you'd pop up somewhere like this! I've decided to get some batting coaching for the first time in my life, aged 45. Care to join me?

  • its the ppl that use it on March 10, 2009, 14:06 GMT

    Simply put by Holding, its the people using the system. The technology should be used to give us a fair battle between bat and ball without having to deal with umpiring blunders costing us some great innings

  • hrmdtb on March 10, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Hawkeye, Snicko, Hi-Motion and Hot Spot (coincidentally the names Tiffin, Harper, Dar and referee Alan Hurst use when they’re pretending to be a hip-hop group

  • Sham on March 10, 2009, 13:52 GMT

    Though referral system is confusing but it's important for the fair and virtual result of the game.

  • Lok Raj on March 10, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    Well said though I feel that it may be an insult to the monkeys. It is hard to understand why the whole system has been made so complicated and ahuge distraction to those who just want to enjoy the game. I am saying this only from a spectators perspective and one can understand the position of players themselves. There is no point in the referreal system if there are restrictions on the use of technology which can help decision making. Leaving on field umpires alone will be better than this confusion as tolerating their 'human' errors is anytime better than witnessing the mess coming out of present referral system. Some people have even opined that umpires see the technology as a potential threat to their position, hence they are creating the problems knowingly so that referral system fails. Some people

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  • Lok Raj on March 10, 2009, 13:49 GMT

    Well said though I feel that it may be an insult to the monkeys. It is hard to understand why the whole system has been made so complicated and ahuge distraction to those who just want to enjoy the game. I am saying this only from a spectators perspective and one can understand the position of players themselves. There is no point in the referreal system if there are restrictions on the use of technology which can help decision making. Leaving on field umpires alone will be better than this confusion as tolerating their 'human' errors is anytime better than witnessing the mess coming out of present referral system. Some people have even opined that umpires see the technology as a potential threat to their position, hence they are creating the problems knowingly so that referral system fails. Some people

  • Sham on March 10, 2009, 13:52 GMT

    Though referral system is confusing but it's important for the fair and virtual result of the game.

  • hrmdtb on March 10, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Hawkeye, Snicko, Hi-Motion and Hot Spot (coincidentally the names Tiffin, Harper, Dar and referee Alan Hurst use when they’re pretending to be a hip-hop group

  • its the ppl that use it on March 10, 2009, 14:06 GMT

    Simply put by Holding, its the people using the system. The technology should be used to give us a fair battle between bat and ball without having to deal with umpiring blunders costing us some great innings

  • Rob H on March 10, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    Harry - I knew you'd pop up somewhere like this! I've decided to get some batting coaching for the first time in my life, aged 45. Care to join me?

  • poopsie on March 10, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    What I have found fascinating about the referral system is not so much how the administrators have managed to make it fail, but how the cricket public can now look on its heroes. Many of greats of the game have been shown to be ruthless in not giving their wickets away by calling for a referral, when they know full well they are out. I am not against the player in this instance, but I am hoping that it opens the publics mind to appreciate that their heros are not as innocent in the way the game is played as they believe.

  • Phil on March 10, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    Fantastic comments! I agree wholeheartedly with all of your metaphors and similes though without a blog on which to release my disgust at the way it's been implemented I must rage, for the most part, silently. Hopefully someone who's opinion actually matters is of the same mind as every single person who's opinion means nothing and the ICC can employ the use of the full technology. Which is, after all, the whole point of having umpire referrals in the first place.

  • Sagar on March 10, 2009, 14:17 GMT

    Hilllarioussssss! Can't agree more on the idiocracy of thinking an umpire's guess of projected path will be better than the computer's calculation...

    I would actually propose to do away with on-field umpires and replace them with a robot that can be programmed to judge the noballs, wides , leg byes etc. We can have one match refree who can stand somewhere on the field as long as not obstructing the play, to judge the conduct of the game.

    Players can make appeals to the robot by either showing hands before a sensor or by clicking a button on the robot standing at the same spot an umpire stands today!

    I belive this is not sci-fiction but really possible!

  • stornjo on March 10, 2009, 14:19 GMT

    Please leave officiating to humans. Keep it simple. No referrals. No technology. Umpires are part of the playing conditions. Some are more likely to give LBWs than others. In baseball it is accepting that some umpires have larger strike zones than others, and if you don't want to be given LBW or Caught behind, then hit the ball with the middle of your bat. Give the run-outs and stumpings back to the humans too. I used to marvel at how often the humans got them right.

  • pietro on March 10, 2009, 14:46 GMT

    Andy - love your posts. Your comment 'There seems no reason why, within a couple of years, a properly managed combination of Hawkeye, .....' says it all. It most situations it would take a couple of days/weeks/months to recognize and implement such a practical solution. With the bumbling, amateur, politicized ciphers who run cricket a couple of years actually sounds optimistic.