December 19, 2009

Umpiring

Let's play UDRS

Andrew Hughes


'This is going to be exciting. You can tell by how loud I'm shouting' © Getty Images
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Before we begin today’s sermon, a brief confession. Some days ago, I suggested that UDRS was not quite the thing. In my foolishness, I may have insinuated that it was the beginning of the end, civilisation-wise. Fellow sinners, I was wrong. I have seen the light. Having been exposed to hour after hour of Dave "Reasonable" Richardson patiently explaining why only backward people don’t like his lovely toy, I have been converted to the Church of UDRS.

I was finally sold on it, not just by the drip-drip effect of big DR’s world-weary PR, but by the combined efforts of Messrs Gower and Botham during the lunch break at Centurion on Wednesday. Gower attempted to bore the ICC’s General Dogsbody into an indiscretion, whilst the Beefster, not one to pass up a chance to mouth a tasty opinion was growling like a portly lion on a leash at feeding time. Yet even their Dozy Cop–Angry Cop routine could not rustle up a single meaty morsel of criticism.

The Undeniably Divine Review System is, then, a marvellous creation. It is the perfect union of technology and bureaucracy and I was wrong ever to doubt it. But if a newcomer to the Church might offer a suggestion, I don’t feel that we are unleashing the system’s full showbiz potential. I’ll tell you what I mean.

A bowler (let’s call him Graeme) flings down a fizzing corker. A batsman (let’s call him Abraham) assays a mighty swish. In the air there is the tiniest, feeblest ticking sound that could be the mating call of the high veldt cricket or just possibly a woody nick. Graeme erupts verbally. Old father umpire shakes his head.

At this point, the lights come on; a jaunty jingle emanates from the Centurion PA system and on comes our hero, one Ravi Shastri, decked out in sparkly jacket, twinkly smile and microphone. Arm around the nervous protagonist, our presenter beams for the camera and asks Graeme from Nottingham if he wants to gamble. Graeme isn’t sure. He looks over to Matthew from Johannesburg Brighton.

“Gamble!” shouts Matthew.

“Are you sure? You’ve only got one life left?”

Graeme thinks for a moment. Then his mind is made up. He definitely heard something. He nods.

“Yes Ravi, I’m going to gamble.”

The crowd whoops and hollers in an excited fashion. In the audience, his friend Andrew covers his eyes, he can’t watch.

“Join us after the break to find out if Graeme from Nottingham is a winner or a loser when we play UDRS!”

You see, stick an ICC-approved exclamation mark on the end and the showbiz quotient is already rising. Getting more decisions right more of the time doesn’t have to be an exercise in thumb twiddling and heel kicking. It can be fun. Just imagine the possibilities on Friday, whilst South Africa were hesitating over using their referral. We could have had a clock ticking in the background, the audience shouting out suggestions and Ravi explaining that they’d have to hurry up if they wanted to play their joker.

But now the ICC has a taste for this kind of thing, why stop here? I’m looking forward to the IDRS, the Incompetent Decision Review System. For too long cricket boards have bumbled along in an altogether 20th-century way. Time was when the chief executive’s word was final and we all accepted it. But with so much at stake these days, it simply isn’t good enough to have decisions made on the hoof by duffers in expensive suits.

Just think of the cock-ups, pratfalls and misadventures that various cricket boards have given us in recent times. Allen Stanford’s chopper? The 273-game World Cup? The English Premier League? The ban on ICL players? Why do we still allow these decisions to be made real time when we can call on technology to help us.

Fortunately, my chums at the Adelaide Institute of Silly Studies have come up trumps. They have developed prototypes of a Self-Interest Monitor (Selfo) a Cash Sensor (Casho) as well as an adjusted Hot Spot that can detect nervous perspiration and a Big Fat Lie Detector. With cameras installed in every boardroom, I believe we can improve administrative decision-making by as much as 6%, leaving us just another 94% worth of improvement to find.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by Waqar on (December 23, 2009, 17:44 GMT)

I think UDRS is really good, it will take some time to get people use to of this, think like this a batsman got debut and while playing he has given caught behind wrongly, he may have hit the century, so his carear is over, take the other example when batsman like Tendulkar or Sahwag got not out call at 3, when he was really out and umpire not able to pick it, and they will make some 300 runs, recently Sangakara has given the comment due to no UDRS we got 500 more runs,

Posted by Ram on (December 23, 2009, 8:48 GMT)

Exactly.. i second Lourens, Whats youe exact critique on the UDRS. I am fine with you PDH (public display of Hatred) against it.But give us some reasons pal...

Posted by Alex on (December 23, 2009, 8:09 GMT)

Do some of the commenters on here have real trouble distinguishing between humour and serious cricket analysis?! This is Page 2 after all. Excellent column Andrew - what about having Lalit Modi sat in the stands giving a Gladiator-style thumbs up or thumbs down when the decision has been made?!

Posted by Mel on (December 21, 2009, 21:17 GMT)

I dont think UDRS is a bad idea. Only problem is that its being implemented unprofessionally. Take Football [American one] for example. The teams can 'challenge' a decision by on-field umpire for 2 times. A 3rd umpire off field would give a decision by watching replies. Every 'challenge' if proved right, earns a new challenge to that team calling it. But the interesting part is that its not the players or captain that make the call, but the coach who is watching by the side ! He can get help from him his staff who would watch the action replies and then suggest to 'challenge' thus almost all challenges would be genuine ones, thus no one says '“We keep messing it up; we have to get better at it'. [read swann, ahem]

Posted by Quinnster on (December 21, 2009, 10:59 GMT)

Be careful, Mr Hughes. Satire is a dangerous thing. It wouldn't be beyond the ICC's Surfing For Innovative Ideas On The Web department to find this article and adopt the 'full showbiz potential' of the sparkly-jacketed Ravi Shastri scenario, as a Great Idea. On a trial basis, of course, until it was effectively proven that it was to the detriment of the game, upon which discovery it would be implemented permanently.

Thank you for your excellent blog.

Posted by Abhishek on (December 20, 2009, 19:04 GMT)

nice try, andrew, but you have failed to convince me that UDRS is either an unwelcome distraction or an underdeveloped tool. for one, just look at the number of people who have disagreed with you in the other post. those are all fans, and they have the right to decide if they want the UDRS to stay or not. further, the 6% figure that you keep harping on about isnt so bad. I would take the 6% improvement over no improvement at all. you also have to consider that if that 6% is out of all the decisions that are taken, it is bound to seem small. however, it is a misleading figure, because if you take the number of decisions that are referred as the denominator, i am sure the percentage will shoot up like anything.

Posted by Gilbert Williams on (December 20, 2009, 5:44 GMT)

Hay all,just a little comment I would like to make about the revue system.I think they should stop it.It should be left up to the umpire to use it.The revue system is there to help the umpire make a correct call.When u have the players using it u should remove the umpire all together.It belittles the umpires makes them look look dummies.thanks

Posted by justine Paula Howard on (December 20, 2009, 4:09 GMT)

The UDRS, well has the aim of improving the decision accuracy rate from 92% to 98%, is admirable, the abuse of the umpire and how he must feel when 3-4 times in a row, last week before the UDRS come in was correct, he is shown to be incompetent.

It is an Unfair Decision Review System, which is leading down the road of Umpire by Remote, does this mean Test Matches will be umpired from the airconditioned office in Dubai, by a committee?

It has to go, it has not place, 92%-98%, it still means 1/10 decisions is wrong

Hope this is recieved!!

Posted by jogesh99 on (December 20, 2009, 3:55 GMT)

superb. but wheres mandira?

Posted by Raj Kumar on (December 19, 2009, 18:22 GMT)

What a load of woffle, pointless let down to a great website.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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