December 9, 2009


No referral system foolproof

Siddhartha Talya

The Adelaide Test and the speculation surrounding Mark Benson's exit was an indication that the Umpire Decision Review System had its pitfalls, writes Mike Selvey in the Guardian. He suggests the review system be used to increase the authority of umpires, rather than erode it.

I would like to see umpires given more responsibility as promoted by the review system. For example, why the square-leg umpire has never been required to adjudicate on height for lbws is beyond me. The training of better umpires, and the use of the best rather than a broad international spread, should be as important as the drive for correct outcomes. In fact, one ought to predicate the other.

But, if the ICC insists the technology is paramount, then it should be used not at the request of the players to query but of the officials to augment, as it was during the Stanford series in Antigua. There should be nothing wrong, either, with the third umpire interjecting if he sees something untoward: we all want the best decisions and, in particular, the elimination of obvious howlers.

Andy Bull, in his blog The Spin in the same newspaper, agrees with Selvey. He writes that the power to review decisions needs to be taken away from the players and must rest with the umpires, something Allen Stanford implemented in his tournament in the Caribbean but the ICC is yet to embrace.

If the aim is to aid the umpire, they should have control over the process, calling on it as and when they need it. It should be a stick to prop them up, not a rod to beat their backs. Otherwise, as Benson has shown, you are only making the job harder.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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