Michael Jeh December 8, 2010

The use and abuse of UDRS

It's clear from the first two Ashes Tests that the UDRS is still a long way from being perfect
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It's clear from the first two Ashes Tests that the UDRS is still a long way from being perfect. Common sense will tell you that it was probably first conceived with the intention of eliminating the absolute 'howlers' but as the concept has been refined and debated, mindful of time-wasting issues, it has now morphed into something that is being used as a strategic weapon. Meanwhile, the really poor decisions still go under the radar, as we saw with Rohit Sharma last night, because it's not even compulsory around the world. It is indeed a curious workplace environment where some cricketers may lose (or save) their careers depending on whether they're involved in a game that includes the use of the UDRS whilse their colleagues in another country play to a different set of rules. It seems ridiculous that for a universal game administered by a global body, there is such inconsistency over such an important facet.

One can't blame captains for using the system, as it currently stands, as a strategic entitlement. It's no longer something you only use to overturn a blatantly wrong decision, but it has now become a calculated 'Powerplay' that should be used with great caution, perhaps to break up a valuable partnership or to stem the rot of a collapse or to try and get rid of the gun batsman if there's a s50/50 chance that the decision might just go your way. Clearly, umpires are getting a few of them wrong, mainly the tight calls, so unless it's going to be used for all decisions, we still risk having a system that is fundamentally flawed just because a team has already used up it's quota on those marginal calls.

The players themselves can take some of the blame for this. Michael Clarke, perhaps through abject disappointment or the act of a drowning man clutching at a serpent, saw a glimmer of hope when the umpire missed a blatant inside edge and forced England to refer a short-leg catch that was obvious for everybody to see. Well, obvious to everybody except the man in the best position - the umpire! Now, let me state upfront that I have no issue whatsoever with Clarke (or any other cricketer from any country) standing their ground and waiting for the umpire's decision if they are also prepared to abrogate ALL decision-making responsibilities to the umpire. It's when we have this "duality of morality" (as I call it) that major problems emerge and tensions can flare.

Let's consider the last two Tests in Brisbane and Adelaide; Australia (Ricky Ponting) claims a low catch off Alastair Cook on the 5th day at the Gabba. His indignant response to the decision being referred to the 3rd umpire might be understandable if Australia (in this example) were always prepared to play the game on the basis of 'player honesty'. But, as Clarke proved a few days later in Adelaide, that honour code is totally dispensable when you snick the ball, either to the wicketkeeper, short leg, silly mid-off etc. It's almost as if a catch when you’re batting has a totally different moral obligation, to a catch you claim as a fielder. Why is that? I simply don't see why there is such a difference in ethics. If you knew you nicked it, why is that fundamentally different to claiming a catch that bounced before you caught it?

Likewise, wicketkeepers are prone to appealing vociferously for a catch that they knew missed the edge of the bat, but are bound by some sort of moral code that apparently can be relied upon to kick in if the nick doesn't quite carry to them. Fielders will appeal for an lbw that clearly got an inside edge. Sometimes the initial appeal is instinctive but you know a fraction of a second later that the batsman smashed it, but I have yet to see a batsman being called back if after an umpire gives him out lbw. Again, I have no issue with accepting the umpire's verdict, good or bad, because you know that over a lifetime, things even themselves out. For that argument to hold true though, cricketers who subscribe to that theory need to accept the umpire's decision on all verdicts. Insisting that you are so honest that you'd never claim a bump ball whilst happily admitting that you would appeal for a dismissal that you knew was not out or stand your ground when you knew you nicked one to the keeper just doesn't make sense.

The other issue about the challenge system with the UDRS is that it needs to be cognisant of the fact that umpires are human too. It's human nature to make decisions in the context of what has happened before, even if that is only a subconscious reflex in the back of your mind. With those 50/50 calls, would an umpire not be influenced slightly (perhaps not even as a conscious decision) by which team has more challenges up their sleeve? For example, if the fielding team has already used up two unsuccessful appeals, is there a possibility that the next appeal might go in favour of the fielding team because the umpire knows that the batting team can still exercise their right to challenge that tight decision? Knowing it's a marginal call, the umpire might sensibly be inclined towards leaning the way of the team who haven't got any challenges left, knowing that the other team still has the capacity to appeal the decision and therefore the correct decision still remains a possibility. In pure probability terms, if he follows this instinctive logic, he still leaves the door open for the correct decision to be made because the team with the challenge still up their sleeve can exercise that option.

Perhaps umpires never actually pre-empt that sort of decision but as human beings, it must surely figure somewhere in their subconscious. Another possibility is that they might be a tiny bit peeved that Team A has actually questioned two decisions in the past (and got it wrong) so this resentment might just be bubbling under the surface and even when a decision is probably 70/30 in favour of Team A, the umpire is inclined to rule the other way and that might be the really bad decision that the UDRS was set up to safeguard against. For instance, Michael Hussey's lbw off James Anderson at the Gabba that went undetected because England had used up their challenges earlier in the game. They were a bit over-ambitious and got a few earlier calls slightly wrong including Clarke's caught behind that they are still adamant was out despite Hot Spot being inconclusive) but by missing the Hussey lbw on that third morning, the system failed a crucial test due to a strategic error rather than the imperative to get it right. Is that really why the UDRS was implemented?

The bottom line is that the UDRS is still an imperfect answer to a problem that will never go away until all players can agree on a universal code of morality. Either leave every decision to the umpire and cut out the self-righteous indignation or start truly playing according to one's conscience and giving yourself up when you know the truth. Of course there are times when players genuinely do not know when they've nicked one or grassed a low catch so the safer option might be to simply shut up and leave it all to the umpires, taking the rough and the smooth with good grace. For their part, the ICC needs to dispense with the shambolic pretence of caring about time-wasting and allow umpires to call for technological assistance whenever they wish. Clearly, the players have no intention of bowling 90 overs in a standard six-hour day so what does it matter if we lose a few more minutes to ensure we get the correct decision every time? Or take the game back to a bygone era where character was shaped by accepting the verdict with a rueful smile and a quick walk back to the pavilion, instead of the open-mouthed astonishment, and the constant shaking of the head to let everyone know that poor little Diddums has been hard done by. It's funny how they manage to keep their emotions perfectly in place when they dodge a bullet.

And when you make a goose of yourself like Clarke did the other evening, full marks for the apology and the plausible explanation but for goodness sake, don't hide behind Twitter!

Michael Jeh is an Oxford Blue who played first-class cricket, and a Playing Member of the MCC. He lives in Brisbane

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Slysta on December 22, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    An imperfect UDRS is much better than no UDRS. History will record India's opposition to it as futile.

    And the "duality of morality" is largely a furphy. There is currently a real difference of situation... when a low catch has been taken, the fielder is often best placed to truly know whether he has completed it cleanly. He has the advantage over current technology. The other situation - whether or not the ball has hit the bat - is much more amenable to technology, and there is no inconsistency in proposing the fielder's word for the first and UDRS for the second. No matter who you are.

  • noteasybeinggreen on December 15, 2010, 2:29 GMT

    Michael Jeh, u trying to spin as much as Shane Warne in this article?

    The 50/50s r almost *never* overturned by referral. U c this with LBWs, if it's close the decision is to go with original decision by field ump.

    The issue with UDRS' use is that players haven't quite figured this out, they use it 4 50/50s in hope it was a howler. When UDRS is used with head & not heart, then it will work.

    4 the record, b4 UDRS umps got about 96% of decisions rite. With UDRS it goes to 97 or 98%. Not a big improvement in grand scheme.

    And s'thing like hawk eye *must* be used for LBWs. Ball movement is sampled 100 times per sec or more, so comments that it is unable to predict accurately are absurd. I've not worked on these systems but have worked on similar sampling systems (e.g. car cruise control) so I no how they work.

    As 4 ump bias, all umps r biased & bias will change during game. We've lived with this all along, so why try to eliminate?

  • Rocket on December 13, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    After seeing Marcus North given out LBW on a "speculative" appeal to the third umpire, I am now waiting to see a batsman jump down the wicket to a spinner, get hit on the pads about 3 metres out, and be given out on review when the computer projects that the ball would have hit the stumps. No matter how far down the wicket the batsman is, he could still be given out, which really is absurd - and it will happen, just you wait!!

  • Mark on December 10, 2010, 20:00 GMT

    With the review system there is currently a crazy double standard with LBW decisions which seems designed to make the umpires look better. If hawk eye showed the ball to be just clipping the stumps, the umpire's decision is upheld, whether the initial decision was out or not out. Consider the decisions against Ryan Harris in both innings of the second test. The umpire gave him out on both occasions. Harris referred the decisions and in both cases the ball was predicted to just touch the stumps, so the decision stands and he is out. Conversely, if he had been given not out and England had referred the decision, then he would have been not out. Exact same deliveries, same predicted path, different result, so human error has not been eliminated.

    Whether a batsman is out or not shouldn't depend on who made the referral. Either we trust the technology and accept when it tells us the ball will hit the stumps, or we don't.

  • Mark on December 10, 2010, 19:36 GMT

    The game is professional. Careers are at stake on the basis of these decisions. Enormous amounts of money are gambled not only on the results of games and individual players performances, but also on such simple and seemingly irrelevant things such as when no balls are bowled. We have seen players susceptible to illicit money from bookmakers to alter these outcomes. What is to say umpires haven't or won't be targeted to influence outcomes?

    I believe the review system is vital and it should be used more. It seems bizarre to discuss or design a system to eliminate "howlers". Who sets the standard as to when an incorrect decision doesn't offend our sense of justice? The aim should be to get all decisions right, not just eliminate the really bad ones.

    The umpires including the third umpire should liaise firstly. Any of the three should be able to instigate a review. Beyond that, keep the players right to ask for 2 reviews per innings, as a back up.

  • Syed on December 10, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Actually, UDRS is a great idea. I remember that an umpiring decision ruined the wonderful career of Steve Bucknor. I am surprised that after an incident like that, the Indian team has disagreements with UDRS. I find that only the teams that don't use the UDRS smartly are the ones who dislike it.

  • Gary on December 10, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    I only have one complaint about UDRS. It's not definitive enough, specifically with regards to LBW decisions. I have no problem with requiring more than half the ball to be predicted to be hitting the stumps for the decision to be given out. What get's me is that you have the silly situation now where a player can be given out with less of the ball hitting the stumps than a player who is given not out, simply because of the original on field decision. I would like to see that if more than half the ball is hitting the stumps it's out, if less it's not out. End of story. There is doubt about the accuracy of Hawk-eye, and that will remove that. It is also, in my mind, the fairest way of doing it.

    For the rest, teams will learn how to use UDRS, and in time discussions such as these will no longer be needed. I do think though that the umpires should also have access to the technology should they wish to use it.

    After all, all we're really interested in is the right decision being made

  • night_foxx on December 10, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    UDRS has reduced the umpiring glitches to a greater extent but still there's a long way to go.The entire tantrum of only three calls is not justified if the ICC wants to eliminate any umpiring errors so as to ensure a good foul-free match. UDRS must be imposed to all test playing nations and ICC should bear the financial strain. ICC must try to ensure a uniformity in the equipments standards so that no matter in which part of the world u are playing you are possessed with the best technology available till date. The problem is that the technology used is quite expensive and ICC alone can't handle it. ICC must asks all the member nations to contribute for the equipments and sponsorship will also play a huge role.

  • Harsh on December 10, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    Firstly not making URDS compulsory was a "Shocker" or "howler" watever fancy words you want to use. India had a real bad taste in lanka couple of years back, when lankans got majority of their reviews spot on and india the otherwise. Anyways, if ICC advocates URDS, it should make it compulsory and also that the current system of 2 incorrect reviews per innings per team should be supplement by 3rd umpire intervention to stop "shockers" once the team is finished with their allotted 2 incorrect reviews so that we can avoid micheal hussey at Gabba and certainly prevent Rohit Sharma at Banglore happening again. Cheers all!

  • Jai on December 10, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    There is another option of letting the sides re use their reviews if the review is successful . . Makes a lot of sense that way.

  • Slysta on December 22, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    An imperfect UDRS is much better than no UDRS. History will record India's opposition to it as futile.

    And the "duality of morality" is largely a furphy. There is currently a real difference of situation... when a low catch has been taken, the fielder is often best placed to truly know whether he has completed it cleanly. He has the advantage over current technology. The other situation - whether or not the ball has hit the bat - is much more amenable to technology, and there is no inconsistency in proposing the fielder's word for the first and UDRS for the second. No matter who you are.

  • noteasybeinggreen on December 15, 2010, 2:29 GMT

    Michael Jeh, u trying to spin as much as Shane Warne in this article?

    The 50/50s r almost *never* overturned by referral. U c this with LBWs, if it's close the decision is to go with original decision by field ump.

    The issue with UDRS' use is that players haven't quite figured this out, they use it 4 50/50s in hope it was a howler. When UDRS is used with head & not heart, then it will work.

    4 the record, b4 UDRS umps got about 96% of decisions rite. With UDRS it goes to 97 or 98%. Not a big improvement in grand scheme.

    And s'thing like hawk eye *must* be used for LBWs. Ball movement is sampled 100 times per sec or more, so comments that it is unable to predict accurately are absurd. I've not worked on these systems but have worked on similar sampling systems (e.g. car cruise control) so I no how they work.

    As 4 ump bias, all umps r biased & bias will change during game. We've lived with this all along, so why try to eliminate?

  • Rocket on December 13, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    After seeing Marcus North given out LBW on a "speculative" appeal to the third umpire, I am now waiting to see a batsman jump down the wicket to a spinner, get hit on the pads about 3 metres out, and be given out on review when the computer projects that the ball would have hit the stumps. No matter how far down the wicket the batsman is, he could still be given out, which really is absurd - and it will happen, just you wait!!

  • Mark on December 10, 2010, 20:00 GMT

    With the review system there is currently a crazy double standard with LBW decisions which seems designed to make the umpires look better. If hawk eye showed the ball to be just clipping the stumps, the umpire's decision is upheld, whether the initial decision was out or not out. Consider the decisions against Ryan Harris in both innings of the second test. The umpire gave him out on both occasions. Harris referred the decisions and in both cases the ball was predicted to just touch the stumps, so the decision stands and he is out. Conversely, if he had been given not out and England had referred the decision, then he would have been not out. Exact same deliveries, same predicted path, different result, so human error has not been eliminated.

    Whether a batsman is out or not shouldn't depend on who made the referral. Either we trust the technology and accept when it tells us the ball will hit the stumps, or we don't.

  • Mark on December 10, 2010, 19:36 GMT

    The game is professional. Careers are at stake on the basis of these decisions. Enormous amounts of money are gambled not only on the results of games and individual players performances, but also on such simple and seemingly irrelevant things such as when no balls are bowled. We have seen players susceptible to illicit money from bookmakers to alter these outcomes. What is to say umpires haven't or won't be targeted to influence outcomes?

    I believe the review system is vital and it should be used more. It seems bizarre to discuss or design a system to eliminate "howlers". Who sets the standard as to when an incorrect decision doesn't offend our sense of justice? The aim should be to get all decisions right, not just eliminate the really bad ones.

    The umpires including the third umpire should liaise firstly. Any of the three should be able to instigate a review. Beyond that, keep the players right to ask for 2 reviews per innings, as a back up.

  • Syed on December 10, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Actually, UDRS is a great idea. I remember that an umpiring decision ruined the wonderful career of Steve Bucknor. I am surprised that after an incident like that, the Indian team has disagreements with UDRS. I find that only the teams that don't use the UDRS smartly are the ones who dislike it.

  • Gary on December 10, 2010, 11:12 GMT

    I only have one complaint about UDRS. It's not definitive enough, specifically with regards to LBW decisions. I have no problem with requiring more than half the ball to be predicted to be hitting the stumps for the decision to be given out. What get's me is that you have the silly situation now where a player can be given out with less of the ball hitting the stumps than a player who is given not out, simply because of the original on field decision. I would like to see that if more than half the ball is hitting the stumps it's out, if less it's not out. End of story. There is doubt about the accuracy of Hawk-eye, and that will remove that. It is also, in my mind, the fairest way of doing it.

    For the rest, teams will learn how to use UDRS, and in time discussions such as these will no longer be needed. I do think though that the umpires should also have access to the technology should they wish to use it.

    After all, all we're really interested in is the right decision being made

  • night_foxx on December 10, 2010, 9:24 GMT

    UDRS has reduced the umpiring glitches to a greater extent but still there's a long way to go.The entire tantrum of only three calls is not justified if the ICC wants to eliminate any umpiring errors so as to ensure a good foul-free match. UDRS must be imposed to all test playing nations and ICC should bear the financial strain. ICC must try to ensure a uniformity in the equipments standards so that no matter in which part of the world u are playing you are possessed with the best technology available till date. The problem is that the technology used is quite expensive and ICC alone can't handle it. ICC must asks all the member nations to contribute for the equipments and sponsorship will also play a huge role.

  • Harsh on December 10, 2010, 8:34 GMT

    Firstly not making URDS compulsory was a "Shocker" or "howler" watever fancy words you want to use. India had a real bad taste in lanka couple of years back, when lankans got majority of their reviews spot on and india the otherwise. Anyways, if ICC advocates URDS, it should make it compulsory and also that the current system of 2 incorrect reviews per innings per team should be supplement by 3rd umpire intervention to stop "shockers" once the team is finished with their allotted 2 incorrect reviews so that we can avoid micheal hussey at Gabba and certainly prevent Rohit Sharma at Banglore happening again. Cheers all!

  • Jai on December 10, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    There is another option of letting the sides re use their reviews if the review is successful . . Makes a lot of sense that way.

  • landl47 on December 10, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    Interesting article. I'm with the school of thought that would have the umpires working as a three-man team and leaving the players out of it. All dismissals should be automatically reviewed, for no-balls if nothing else. All disallowed appeals should be reviewed by the third umpire to ensure a mistake wasn't made. That can be done very quickly and if there is any doubt, hold the game up for a few seconds. That way the right decision will be made 99.99% of the time. I agree entirely with your point about sportsmanship. Michael Clarke set off for the pavilion and then stopped when he realized the umpire had given him not out. Ponting said he was was convinced he caught the ball, but the technology wasn't conclusive. Maybe he was mistaken; I've seen players believe they caught a ball when it clearly bounced into their hands. Just leave all the decisions to the THREE umpires and there won't be many mistakes.

  • Ravi Kumar on December 10, 2010, 5:08 GMT

    This "strategic use" perspective seems to be a case of over analysing something as "simple" as a referral. I would think that players will most likely refer decisions if they believe that the umpire got it wrong, even if marginally, and they had a fair case for a referral. The number of referrals available seems to be designed to eliminate excessive use, similar to the same practice in tennis.

  • Micky on December 10, 2010, 3:21 GMT

    "It's almost as if a catch when you’re batting has a totally different moral obligation, to a catch you claim as a fielder." That should not be suprise.

    The situation is that the batsman is not supposed to involved in the initial decision. The fielding side are involved since they have to appeal. The fielding side should be subject to ethics and not appeal when the batsman is clearly not out, whatever the reason. Otherwise its like they are trying to dupe the umpire.

    The batsman used to stand his ground on the basis that umpires make wrong decisions and he has to take the bad decisions in his favour with the bad ones not in his favour, to even things out somewhat.

    Perhaps this is further complicated by the UDRS, because a batsman can now save himself when he is certain he didn't nick it, provided he has appeals remaining.

    The UDRS should help to make players more honest, and therefore Michael Clarke would have been smarter to walk.

    The UDRS averts wrongs!

  • Harry on December 9, 2010, 20:26 GMT

    fantastic article Mike Kudos to you!!!!! I absolutely agree with your view point. The honesty code which Ponting always talks about should apply to players not only when thye are fielding but also when they bat or bowl.In clark's case the ball hitting the bat was very obvious. By England being forced to review a very straightforward decision they lost one of their reviews. His apology on twitter is just a publicity gimmick. he should have walked knowing that he would be anyways given out after the review. Maybe India is right after all being against the UDRS.Of course the systems has its pros and cons but things would be more easier if the players were honest like in the olden days.

  • Venkat on December 9, 2010, 19:18 GMT

    What happens when a team loses both its challenges and the umpire makes a series of howlers that go against them?

    If you are going to refer, then all calls should go through a basic sanity check - check for no-ball, check for line of impact, check for valid catches, check for height of ball when it crosses the stump-line, etc. Instead, it'b being used as a lifeline, "I think I'll phone-a-friend". Umm...sorry, you've already used up that one. "Oh, then how about 50/50 or ask the audience?". Sorry, you're out of lifelines. In that case, Doh! I don't what I'm doing but I'll make a call anyhow.

    Now, you may ask, what then is the point of having a on-field human umpire at all? I tell ya, I've been trying to answer that question ever since hotspot and hawkeye came into being.

    All they need is a TV-ump that in cases where there's a complex non-machine interpretable situation, will use his/her human intelligence and make the right call after reviewing video and all other technological aids.

  • Doug Newsam on December 9, 2010, 13:16 GMT

    Depend on the players conscience? That is a howler! The UDRS is not perfect but it has helped avoid some errors. It needs closer examination b4 it gets closer to what is intended. It is being used strategically by players but that is inevitable. It should be mandatory for all Tests and international ODI and T20 games, not fair for it to be used in some and not others. I think umpires approve of it, have they been asked for their opinion of the system?

  • raj on December 9, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    The RIGHT thing to do:The ICC needs to dispense with the shambolic pretence of caring about time-wasting and allow umpires to call for technological assistance whenever they wish.

  • Anonymous on December 9, 2010, 11:50 GMT

    if a player knows he is out and only wants to force a referral, how does that waste the fielding teams referral? I thought referrals were restored if proven correct...

  • Saqib Sindhu on December 9, 2010, 9:04 GMT

    Adam Gilchrist probably the greatest modern day "walker" had a different theory when he was keeping. He would appeal ferociously knowing very well that the batsman did not snick the ball to him or on LBS's when the ball was clearly missing the stumps. Double standards?

  • AQ75_57 on December 9, 2010, 8:59 GMT

    Michael, a good thought-provoking article, but I still disagree! In defence of the UDRS, it was effective in stopping 3 semi-'howlers' in Adelaide. Cook got a reprieve for a non-caught behind on 69 (or thereabouts), Clarke the same at some stage during his 2nd innings, and then Clarke's dismissal on the last ball on the 4th day (when England referred). The 3 decisions were correctly changed, justice was served and no one could have any complaints. It was great use of the system. Umpires are scrutinised anyway by constant TV replays so why not use that same technology to help them? I agree UDRS is not perfect - it's still bedding down and players, umpires and fans are still adjusting to it (and both teams used it much better in Adel than in Bris). But I feel it's better to have it than have the old 'what if the umpire had made the correct decision' hypotheticals which inevitably happen when the umpire makes a wrong decision.

  • Hari on December 9, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    What is the purpose of UDRS? To correct the obvious mistakes. So why give the teams a chance to refer? You can clearly attain your goal with the help of the third umpire. If the onfield umpire makes an obvious mistakes what the third umpire should do is correct that mistake. Is it so hard for the ICC to understand? How much time will be wasted for this?

  • Fisher on December 9, 2010, 8:24 GMT

    Hope you are not blowing your trumphet for BCCI...

  • Yotta on December 9, 2010, 7:24 GMT

    Personally I like the human element that umpires can bring to the game where a marginal decision can turn the game right around. In the long term the good and bad decisions should even themselves out. I think the current setup is flawed, if left in the hands of the fielders it should be reduced to 1 chance (retained if correctly challenged) to encourage use only when certain you are correct ie when the decision was a genuine howler. The umpire should also have the option to check things with the third umpire, for instance if they hear two noises check whether there was a nick or not. I also feel that no ball calls should be automated or given to the third umpire so the field umpire can concentrate on the far end of the pitch as that's where all the real action is.

  • Aditya on December 9, 2010, 7:17 GMT

    (continued) So basically, here is a situation where the umpire would have (and should have) given the benefit of doubt to the batsman (which is a fair method, because it is consistent), but doesn't give it because he is motivated by the number of reviews remaining (an inconsistent method because it is dependent on the number of reviews). What Jehan suggests sounds reasonable as well to ensure consistency (though a bit too complicated for ICC to implement it).

  • Aditya on December 9, 2010, 7:16 GMT

    All very fair points. And very obvious to the discerning too. But they do need to be written down for the not-so-discerning, like some of the comments here, who can't see self-righteous indignation and 'dual morality' on display. One point to add. When it's a 50-50 case, if the umpire is motivated by the number of reviews remaining with the teams, that can be a bad thing at times. E.g. consider a 50-50 case of LBW where the UDRS shows the ball to be kissing the top of the bails. Now if the umpire was motivated by the number of reviews remaining, he would give it out if the fielding team had no reviews left. And his decision would be upheld by the UDRS. However, if he had given it not out and if the fielding team had a review left, the batsman would've been reprieved by the UDRS. So here the number of reviews dictates a situation when it should have been actually dictated by the umpire's intuition and knowledge of conditions (which is bound to be better than that of the UDRS). (ctd.)

  • Noman Yousuf Dandore on December 9, 2010, 6:40 GMT

    I totally disagree with the writer on this one. There is no such thing as a strategic review. If you're hoping to get a marginal decision in your favour against a star batsman when you yourself are not sure about it, your risk losing one of your reviews; so it's a bad STRATEGY. If you have watched the Ashes carefully, you would notice that,

    1. Howlers (e.g. M Clarke's fourth day dismissal in 2nd Test) were rectified, which definitely is a good thing for the sport. 2. UDRS while adding a touch of drama to the game, has also made it comparatively fairer by eliminating bad decisions. 3. It has actually glorified a good on-field umpire (e.g. Aleem Dar), leaving you in amazement at their sound judgement and good decision-making ability.

    If anything, the only possible additions to the system could be 1)snicko and 2) not subtracting the inconclusive decisions (ala Clarke's Brisbane caught behind) from the remaining challenges.

    Cheers!

  • Anonymous on December 9, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    Also I have to disagree Michael with the statement that "things even themselves out". Not always. After copping several dodgy decisions from Rudi Coetzen in 2005 both Katich & Martyn were dropped from the side for having not scored runs. It was only by luck that both of them were recalled later on. Some players aren't so lucky.

    With regard to low catches being claimed and Ponting's indignigant response relative to snicking the ball, there is a little difference in that historically catches claimed were taken at the word of the fielder by the batsmen with no part played by the umpire. Whilst perhaps nicking a ball has always been the job of the umpire to determine with no "gentlemanly" contract between fielders & batsman involved. Obviously those days are long gone, but you can't blame a man for trying. I would say the difference

  • Anonymous on December 9, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    Umpires are NEVER going to refer howlers because they are sure of them, whether they are caused by bad umpiring or bias. UDRS is the player's way of saving himself from victimization, therefore it would kill the purpose if that right was taken from the players.

    Also, limits aren't needed to prevent bad reviews because nobody is so stupid that he KNOWS he is obviously out and he will refer it, because he will be found out. And players cannot have their morals challenged for referring marginal decisions.

    And there should be more than one review so players get another chance in case of a mistake. In fact the only disadvantage of unlimited reviews is time wastage.

  • Dave on December 9, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    The UDRS is working well. There has hardly been a wrong decision this series.

    You have to use the challenge system. Otherwiswe. you will end up like the NRL or the NFL (before the challenge system), in that everything is referred.

    Also, saying that the UDRS has problems because India doesnt use it and something about Rohit Sharma, just doesnt make sense. Its not the UDRS's fault that India dont use it.

  • Nate on December 9, 2010, 5:37 GMT

    If the umpires were given the option of using UDRS for every decision it would quickly turn into the automated response that runout decisions have become. Even if a batsman is clearly short of the crease, the umpire will always refer the decision just to be on the safe side. If all decisions are referred to the 3rd umpire why bother having an on field umpire at all? Why not just have an screen that signals the umpire's decision after every appeal? If umpires are to continue being part of the game of cricket they must be given some autonomy and on-field authority.

  • Anonymous on December 9, 2010, 5:31 GMT

    I don't have a problem with the way the system is being used for there are few actual howlers (now that Bucknor & Rudi have retired). Teams make use of the system "just in case". The only thing they need to change with the UDRS (besides making it mandatory for ALL matches) is that the umpires should be able to make use of it at their discretion. Leave the teams with their two incorrect challenges. This way, an example like Hussey's LBW (it wasn't undetected Michael, the umpire heard 2 noises and wasn't sure so gave it not out, the right thing to do) could be remedied by the umpire asking the 3rd umpire to look at it even if the fielding team has used all its challenges. The 3rd umpire however should be a person with good eyesight, as Billy Doctrove showed us by missing a blatant inside edge for Ryan Harris' LBW decision.

  • pete action on December 9, 2010, 3:17 GMT

    I like the concept of the UDRS and generally believe that it has been successful in reducing howlers. Of course it will develop over time and become even more proficient at removing dodgy calls so let's live with it. Before the UDRS system many many fans and commentators used to moan and complain incessantly that if the technology is there we should use it. Now we are, and I personally wonder about India's agenda in deciding to opt out of it. Bring it on!!

  • Steven in WA on December 9, 2010, 2:29 GMT

    In major cricket matches there are at least four umpires, one as a reserve. Why not have the fourth, otherwise unused, umpire to decide if a decision should be reviewed, rather than the players. It's unfair that a team should lose the right to appeal because two very tight decisions go against it, and the strategic use of the system would also be avoided. As to overs in a day, in the 1963 Windies tour of England the average in tests was more than 120 overs in six hours with no extensions and with pace bowlers taking long run-ups. These days teams should be penalised for fewer than 100 overs in a day's play - something like take off the runs scored by that team in the most productive overs up to the number not bowled.

  • CricManiac on December 9, 2010, 2:24 GMT

    Two things:

    A) Great article as it slices and dices the whole UDRS system with its pro's and con's;

    B) I think the first goal of ICC should be to make this universal regardless of countries and formats of the game (May be not in T20 at this point). I also understand that there is a monetary challenge in getting this installed for all the games. Is it too difficult to find a sponsor like "Emirates" who is doing a brilliant job in sponsoring the panel of Elite umpires. I think there are number of Corporates out there to sponsor the UDRS technology if the exposure avaiable to the corporate is sold properly. For example: Each time a decision goes up for UDRS and a hotspot or superslow mo is in progress the Corporate sponsoring the UDRS can have its company name and logo flashed on the corner of the TV screens and the gian screens of the stadium. I am sure there are many ways to attract a sponsor for UDRS. Make it universal first for all the playing countries.

  • Michael Jeh on December 9, 2010, 1:51 GMT

    Thank you for all the comments, encouraging and insulting alike! That's part and parcel of writing a blog, opening it up to all perspectives. Ryan's comment is the only one that appears to me to make no sense to me. I may have lost a reader there which is a real shame (no sarcasm!).

    I'm not against using the 3rd umpire or video umpire but I am leaning slightly against the current system of only 2 referrals. A quota system rarely works unless there is a limited resource. Given that the wasting of time seems to be the main reason why umpires don't refer all uncertain decisions, I think it's a poor excuse when not much is really being done to stop time-wasting anyway. I'd prefer more correct decisions because we rarely get through 90 overs anyway!

  • Tim on December 9, 2010, 0:23 GMT

    So it's not 100% perfect, so what? It is far better than what we had before. So some captains tactically use their referrals, so what? Usually they lose them to the detriment of their team later on - ambitious refrrals for LBW's from quick bowlers with the new ball very very rarely turn out in their favour.

    A lot of negativity about the UDRS which most fans seem to like. Havent heard any better suggestions!

  • Watchdog on December 8, 2010, 23:49 GMT

    UDRS system is good. 2 challenges per team is also ok. However, either team should have the option of going to the umpire if they are in doubt of a decision even if they do not have any challenges left. The umpire should then make a decision if he wants to go back to the third umpire for verification. This will ensure no bad decisions are made.

  • Cricket Burble on December 8, 2010, 22:04 GMT

    Completely agree that the UDRS needs to be called for by the umpire as necessary and the players shouldn't be referring things. No balls should all be checked every ball by technology. And for low catches the benefit of the doubt should go to the fielding side.

    You make an interesting point about careers being put on the line. Last Ashes tour Strauss got 3 wrong decisions and it contributed to a loss of confidence and then the loss of his international place. It put his whole career at risk and I asked a lawyer friend if Strauss would have a case for compensation from the ICC since they'd failed to bring in the technology that was available and he'd - arguably - lost income as a result. Apparently not, but that would seem logical to me!

    Of course while umpires misinterpret what the technology tells them there will always be problems!

  • Vivian Hill on December 8, 2010, 21:48 GMT

    I like the UDRS system to an extent. The more decisions you get right the better. But, let's improve it further by giving the third umpire the right to question a decision and halt proceedings if he thinks an error has possibly been made. He can contact the on-field umpire, telling him he is conducting a review, and the umpire stops play momentarily while the check is done. Very little time will be lost, but an even greater percentage of right decisions will be made.

  • steven tyler on December 8, 2010, 21:23 GMT

    The bottom line despite all the negatives on the referral system is that it has improved the accuracy rate and minimize all marginal decisions in favor of the better team. As the records will show umpires usually give the benefit of the doubt on marginal decisions to the higher ranked team.

    Steven 500

  • MS on December 8, 2010, 21:09 GMT

    Haha, players agree to a universal code of molarity? Like anyone's going to follow it if the Ashes are on the line on a call.

    The system wasn't designed to be 100%, I don't know why its detractors keep arguing against that point. It was designed to be better than no system at all, which it clearly is.

  • sri on December 8, 2010, 21:03 GMT

    absolutely critical, yet right and simplistic viewpoints.....hit the nail on head you should write more often

  • Mohammed on December 8, 2010, 20:51 GMT

    I have to say... I actually disagree. The UDRS has benn used very well by both teams in this series, particularly England. I think the URDS is helping making the right decision, because at the end of the day the batsmen know when they are out, and if they think they are not then by all means refer the decision.

  • Stuart on December 8, 2010, 20:36 GMT

    My personal preference would be that the player's word should be accepted on the field for all decisions. A review should then be held after each match of any instance where a player appears to be dishonest. This should be considered cheating, and bringing the game in to disrepute, and appropriate punishment should be meted out. This has the great advantage that honest behaviour could filter down to lower levels and make the umpires' jobs much easier.

  • Jitesh on December 8, 2010, 20:35 GMT

    It is true in its current form the UDRS is flawed, either every decision should be allowed to be referred or none at all, or just allow the third umpire to overrule the field umpires, no player involvement. It just becomes a strategy game otherwise. The latter two options allow the field umpires to hold onto some dignity. After all they are the overseers of the ongoing game and should have some respect from the players.

  • Lawrence on December 8, 2010, 20:35 GMT

    So because the umpire review system is imperfect (therefore leaving space for tactical gambles) it is ridiculous? Rubbish. The only statistic that matters in a sensible debate on the topic is the percentage of decisions that, in the end, are correct. If the human element to umpiring remains as in the scenarios outlined, then what of it? Cricket played by machines would be pointless, staying onside with the umpire is a facet of the game, but if gross errors of judgement that turn matches can be reduced then that can only be a good thing.

  • Gokul on December 8, 2010, 19:16 GMT

    I kinda see why Clarke did what he did. He knew he was out and he knew that the referral would not be in his favor. But by standing his ground he got England to use up their last remaining referral. Clearly a strategic move, and one that should not be used to judge his personal character. Any smart cricketer would have done the same.

  • Jehan Ariyaratnam on December 8, 2010, 18:47 GMT

    I would add 2 more rules to make the system closer to perfection. 1. On marginal decisions (50/50)ie just clipping outside half of stump on lbw etc the decision should always go in favour of the batsman. This ensures uniformity of decisionmaking. Eg under the current system 5 (50/50) decisions could be given out for Team 1 batting but the same 5 similar decisions could be given not out for Team 1 when they are bowling. This isnt fair. Therefore all marginal decisions going in favour of batsmen will eliminate bias towards any 1 team. 2. Secondly if a team challenges a marginal decision (under the old system the umpires decision stands but under this new system im proposing the batsman gets the benefit of the doubt)the team that has unsuccesfully challenged a marginal decision shouldnt lose their review. They shouldnt be punished for challenging a decision that was very close. However for a clear cut out/not out decision they should lose a review if they unsuccesfully challenged.

  • mobius on December 8, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    Wonderful article! Totally agree with everything that has been said here.

  • Nilam sudha on December 8, 2010, 17:43 GMT

    Dear Michael Jeh; I would like to propose something on the line of what you said, 2 referals per inning is fine(no excessive referals) but in case one team has used up its referals and another team successfully gets a reprive from referal, referal should be restored for both the teams. Wrong desicion simply means, umpiring standerd is not impeccable. It is like early in the inning when umpires were fresh they gave correct decisions, but after a while when they got tired they gave a wrong decision, which indicates higher possibility of error in future as well, it would be deemed unfair that one team used up its referals when umpires were fresh and it couldn't use it when it should have, perticularly I would like to give example of Hussy's inning in 1st test, when on 82 he sucessfully challenged his LBW, at this point englend should have been awarded extra referal as umpiring standerd was not proper, this way england would have had got him when he was on 85. Nilam

  • Anonymous on December 8, 2010, 17:25 GMT

    Yes the inconsistencies of a) whether the system will be used and b) what technologies will be used if it is are ludicrous. If the every game in each format (Test, ODI and why not T20?) are to be recognised as of equal merit, then they must have equal levels of umpiring. The challenge element is not working. Whilst I am high-minded enough for the use of unlimited challenges to seem appealing - the immediate implementation of only one unsuccessful challenge per innings should be trialled asap. On the limitations of technology, I still have problems with low catches (e.g. Ponting off Cook) being refereed. A positive decision in favour of the fielder is near impossible. Better to keep this on field, either trusting the umpires best guess or the fielder - even if it is the Australian Captain.

  • Mayuresh on December 8, 2010, 17:19 GMT

    Hit the nail right on its head. the reasoning here is a classic example why dhoni or bcci oppose this system.

  • Shikhar Ahuja on December 8, 2010, 17:01 GMT

    Beautiful article. It accurately mentions the flaws of the system. But, honestly, howsoever the system may be an imperfect answer to an endless problem, it simplifies the problem more than it complicates it. For that reason alone, all teams should accept the implementation of UDRS in the future tests. UDRS is another step in the evolution of decision making methods and technology.

  • Sriram on December 8, 2010, 16:58 GMT

    Whole heartedly agree with the writer. UDRS should not be used for strategic reasons. That is not cricket. Powerplay, however, still requires cricketing instincts. On the contrary, it is more shameful to completely disregard the umpire's efforts and reputation when the decision is obviously correct and it was only referred because the referring team has one more referral left and they have to use it or lose it. If bothers me more that, a partially accepted system is replayed by the TV commentators to reveal what seems like an incorrect decision. This only brings disgrace to the umpires, when you know there's a chance that the umpire might be right. Do that after you have embraced the system live in production.

  • BIGB on December 8, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    Very well said. Nice article

  • Andy on December 8, 2010, 16:46 GMT

    To me, there is a very straightforward way of reducing the abuse of the UDRS, and limiting it to the removal of the obvious 'howler': Reduce the number of reviews available to each side to 2 (or possibly 3) per match - there would be much less chance of them being wasted on touch and go lbws. I have yet to come across a good argument against this.

  • Sushant Bahadur on December 8, 2010, 16:40 GMT

    the dichotomy of the article is that while it questions the influence of umpire's state of mind on the decisions (" cognizant of the fact that umpires are humans too......"), it still expects that the players will follow the universal code of conduct. Are the players not humans?

    IMO the article above simply makes arguments for the sake of making. Questioning a helpful system, saying that it is not perfect. I ask the author to provide examples of at least a few such 'perfect systems' before demanding one in cricket.

  • Ishwar Prashad on December 8, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    The game must be saved from technology. Let the umpires make the decisions, weven if mistakes are made. Cricket is the "human game", with its "glorious uncertainty". This is what makes it a reflection of life....good days, bad days ,; good decisions, bad decisions.Put the onus on the umpires and the players to play the game with integrity and respect.Dhoni is right to refuse UDRS.

  • Bimalka on December 8, 2010, 16:35 GMT

    I don't agree with most of what's been said by the author or the arguments thrown in by others(mostly the BCCI and Indian cricketers). UDRS isn't perfect, that much I agree. But it is a better system than what we have. If you have the technology, use it. It was introduced to get rid of howlers and that's exactly what it's done (Can you imagine the fallout if Clarke wasn't given out at such a crucial juncture in the game?). Yes it has introduced a different element to the game - the strategic review. But I think this is a positive thing. The cleverer captains seem to be getting the most out of it. (Jayawardena vs India in 2009 and Strauss in the current series) Hotspot seem to be a bit hit and miss and I would stop using that. But I'm happy with the rest of it.

  • Rav Dhaliwal on December 8, 2010, 16:33 GMT

    A really superb article Michael that clearly highlights the tactical use of the UDRS. Ponting's wish to have a 'fielders agreement' is compelte folly, take the Sydney test in 2007 for example. He not only didnt awlk when he nicked Ganguly behind to Dhoni but had the audacity to point his finger up to Mark Benson when he claimed a bump ball off the same batsman in the 2nd innings which was clearly not out. Ricky cannot have it both ways.

    Also, take some of the close test matches of recent times: Cardiff, Centurion, Cape Town, Mohali. If the side batting to save the game with the final wicket at the crease has a referral left with 2 minutes left to play, they will invariably use it. Not to get a decision right or wrong but to waste the time and run the clock down.

    Dhoni has made a very simple point recently which is to just get the umpiring quality higher. A very valid point if not slightly naive. It's ridiculous how 2 tests can be played on the same day; 1 with/1 without UDRS.

  • Ben on December 8, 2010, 16:33 GMT

    I'd like to see the appeal system reduced to 1 per team, on the basis that it might really force teams to think of it in terms of 'in case of emergency only'. You'd only really want to use it when you were pretty sure you'd been the victim of a howler, not as an additional resource to deploy at a strategic moment.

  • Kaushik on December 8, 2010, 16:27 GMT

    "If you knew you nicked it, why is that fundamentally different to claiming a catch that bounced before you caught it?"

    This is exactly what happened during the infamous Sydney test - Clarke nicked - no slashed - it and stood there while in the same match he claimed a low dubious catch to dismiss Ganguly. Some people never change! But curiously Clarke didn't feel the need to apologize at that time until after Kumble started pointing fingers....

  • Ryan on December 8, 2010, 16:25 GMT

    If you had actually watched the test you would have known Clarke had already begun to walk. He would have noticed the England players' faces and then noticed the finger had not been raised. Sorry but get your facts straight because if you want to base your blog around something as ridiculous as this then you will have no readers.

    I'm glad you actually follow cricket because you seem to be paying attention to the details. *sarcasm*

  • monty on December 8, 2010, 16:23 GMT

    Bravo, Michael; for touching an angle nobody would. Everyone thinks either UDRS is the silver bullet or the great anathema ever conjured for cricket. Nice to see you bring a 3rd perspective. I always wonder, what if the captains have wasted their two referrals and then, the contentious calls materialize. Then, we are back to square one. So, why so much hoopla about using the UDRS! Also, you must be first commentator to lay bare the "duality of morality".

  • DamienInFrance on December 8, 2010, 16:20 GMT

    Clearly, one of the most insightful and valuable commentaries on the use of technology in cricket. Frankly, as an avid spectator, I thoroughly enjoy the drama of watching the technology work through a referred decision. Whether being an objector or a recipient of an overturned decision, watching the same view as the third umpire adds to the drama. It's an addition to the game's entertainment, and it should be up to the umpire to decide whether to use the technology. Perhaps if the Fielding Captain/Batsman simply asks the Umpire to check the element that they believe has been insufficiently considered, the Umpire can have that element reviewed as many times as requested. Of course, if the Umpire believes that the specific element was already dismissed in his considerations, then he has the right to dismiss the player's request? The Umpire still retains the final word, and the right to his decision. Perhaps that could work...

  • Ravi on December 8, 2010, 16:04 GMT

    Very good Michael. Brings back memories of SydneyGate and Ponting's and Clarke's catches, and post-match reactions! No offence, but these double standards from Australian team are nothing new! Where was this piece duing Sydneygate? :-)

  • Sundaram on December 8, 2010, 15:59 GMT

    Michael Clarke did stand his ground when he clearly edged a catch to Dravid off Kumble's bowling at the SCG in Jan 2008. The Umpire took a very long time to uphold Kumble's appeal. MC is clearly a cheat and Honestly doesn't deserve to be appointed Australia's captain. Marcus North, if he regains his batting form, will definitely the star of Australian cricket in the next 5/7 years. MN will be the future Captain.

  • Sundaram on December 8, 2010, 15:58 GMT

    Michael Clarke did stand his ground when he clearly edged a catch to Dravid off Kumble's bowling at the SCG in Jan 2008. The Umpire took a very long time to uphold Kumble's appeal. MC is clearly a cheat and Honestly doesn't deserve to be appointed Australia's captain. Marcus North, if he regains his batting form, will definitely the star of Australian cricket in the next 5/7 years. MN will be the future Captain.

  • ashwin on December 8, 2010, 15:44 GMT

    I feel a better to remove the absolute howlers from the game is to give more rights to the third umpire. If there is a blatant wrong decision then the third umpire should have the right to tell the on field umpire to overturn his decision. It obviously has its pros and cons but at the end of the day I feel its a better way to regulate the wrong decisions.

  • Oli Deans on December 8, 2010, 15:41 GMT

    I agree with Michael Jeh, up to a point. However, the idea of a universal moral code being adhered to by all cricketers is idealistic. Competitive breeds stubbornness; there will always be bad apples. Surely that's why today's batsmen don't walk & bowlers always appeal, when in times gone by they may have done otherwise (although I can't see ALL old cricketers being so honest - surely not the mischievous Dr Grace). The UDRS is in need of adjustment. My suggestions are: 1. A 'review clock': 3-5 secs, much less than the current allowed time. This would favour more certain decisions. 2. Only umpires to ask for replays, so they call only for uncertain appeals, as with run outs. 3. Unlimited reviews, but unsuccessful calls by the fielding side result in penalty runs to the batting side, while those by the batting side result in subtracted runs (and, of course, a wicket). A preventative approach.

  • Abhi on December 8, 2010, 15:33 GMT

    Very nice in-depth analysis. This is pure hypocrisy on Clarke's part of standing his ground and then apologizing. This is not the first time he has done that. Remember Sydney match against India. Also the IPL, where after his demanded money had got refused he pulled out the tantrum of he does not want to play the IPL as he wants to focus on Australian team. Rather than the UDRS, just give the power to the third umpire to overrule the on-field umpire if he finds decision is incorrect. Let's say in case of Rohit Sharma, 3rd umpire would have known in first replay that he is out. How about he calls the umpire on field and informs him before the next delivery that Rohit is out. Deal done.

  • Srivatsan on December 8, 2010, 15:32 GMT

    A well analyzed article. It speaks neither for nor against the UDRS. It just takes i apart piece by piece and includes players' honesty, sincerity, integrity and dignity. Although it can be argued that past games had no technology to support, the big urge to win at all costs has crept in recent times due to the lure of the green bucks. I wish there is a rebirth of Gilchrist, Vishwanath and Azharuddin, who have respectively walked, recalled a batsman or denied a catch (grassed) Sorry there may be many more but I have poor memory to recall other instances. So let us leave umpiring to Umpires who can refer their doubts to technology. All others please abide by right or wrong and subside quietly!! Life is tough but livable with its pleasant ups and downs. May peace prevail at all costs!!

  • Beer garden of England on December 8, 2010, 15:31 GMT

    I quite agree with the sentiment that says that a batsman who never walks should never claim foul should he get a bad decision. If you live by the sword you should accept that you may die by it.

    However on the wider point of the UDRS I must say that I beleive it has been a great success. Claims that it is being used on a tactical basis fail because in almost all "tactical" cases the appeal to the TV umpire fails. The fact that for a ball to be missing the stumps entirely for the batsman to win his appeal or the hitting the stumps full on for the bowler to succeed means that for a decision to be reversed the upmpire must have made a considerable misjudgement. Andrew Strauss used up his reviews early in the piece during the first test and lived to regret it as Hussey was reprieved whilst being hit plumb in front. Cannot blame the umpire, he heard two noises as the ball hit both pads. Blame the skipper for referring two very marginal calls in the first place.

  • Shan on December 8, 2010, 15:29 GMT

    Excellent article. I don't think we should even discuss the option depending on player conscience and honesty. When a player knows that hundreds of thousands of dollars ride on his performance, there is no way he is going to knowingly put those earnings at risk. All available technology must be used consistently. Even Hotspot seems inconclusive sometimes but it seems way better than the competing technologies. Cost should not be a factor at all when all the major boards are more or less printing money. Why can't ICC outright buy those cameras and get them sponsored? Or even if they can't why not use sponsors for those cameras and reduce cost?

  • Sojan on December 8, 2010, 15:23 GMT

    Excellent article. I was actually for the UDRS system until reading this.

  • Sudhi on December 8, 2010, 15:22 GMT

    Very valid points, Michael. My two cents - as Dhoni said, if the umpires continue with their howlers, there will be no choice for everyone but to go for UDRS. BTW, The Clarke nick in Brisbane seemed genuine. The stump mic picked it but hotspot didn't. England thus lost the 2 chances and Hussey got away later else we would have been at 2-0!

  • Amit on December 8, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Excellent article. I must say that this is one of the best I have read on cricinfo. Not targeting any one individual or team, I think people make 'rational' decisions based on the context (irrespective of what they say later) with emotions included as well & one cannot blame them for that. Hence UDRS should be best left to umpires. That means we do not need UDRS at all. Let umpires decide when they want to use technology. Better still, let third umpire be allowed to intervene in such cases (1-2 min given after every dismissal) & contact on field umpires to tell them if they have made a mistake. Thanks & regards, Amit

  • Arul on December 8, 2010, 15:21 GMT

    Superb article Michel Jeh.. Absolutely outstanding article i've eve red in cricinfo..Superbly written.. I love all the whole article..

  • Abhijeet on December 8, 2010, 15:17 GMT

    Best article I've read in a long time!

  • nilesh on December 8, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    you sir seem to be very confused yourself. there is a gray between white and black. and udrs definitely helps. of course it will evolve over time and for the better. udrs for all close decisions can be tested out but it might be too time confusing. personally i prefer umpires to refer to the third for whatever decisions if he deems fit. though udrs still has its place (think bucknor against india)

  • SPK on December 8, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    If morality is the only standard to go by, make sure fines are levied if anyone breaks the code - including 100% match fees, suspensions and the like.

  • Joost on December 8, 2010, 15:02 GMT

    I disagree. Good sport(and cricket especially) is about drama.

    Firstly: the current referral system is better than no system at all, as "howlers" are now more likely to be rectified. The 50/50s when called are also more likely to be correct. It will never be possible to have 100% correct (e.g. hotspot was "inconclusive", but snicko seemed to show something - which one is right?). More correct decisions are surely a good thing. Secondly: it adds more personality to the game in terms of players rather than umpires. Its a fairly simple addition, but the game becomes more complex and intriguing as a result. Should the captain refer or shouldn't he? Theres nothing like a dilemma to make someone interesting to the viewer. Thirdly the minute of angst. Once the referall has been made, we have that delicious minute where the batsman has his head on the block - not knowing.

    Wonderful! keep it coming.

  • Bogie55 on December 8, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    I don't understand why it's somehow a "tactical" move to use the system if you think it might result in dismissing the batsman or keeping your wicket. If you think the decision is wrong enough enough, you get another bite at the cherry. If you get it wrong twice, you don't get any more for the rest of the innings. What's so wrong about that?

    How do you know when you're on the field what is a "howler" and what isn't? You judge the risk and potential reward of making a challenge - that's the only element of it that is "tactical".

  • real on December 8, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    I still think Ponting took that catch in Brisbane. He got his fingers under the ball and it bounced off his fingers. Always looks like it hits the ground in this situation. Ponting was unfairly judged in this case, but people who look at him through certain eyes see what they want to see.

  • Anonymous on December 8, 2010, 14:54 GMT

    totally pointless article , UDRS is helpful its ofcourse reducing errors it can't be perfect.Apart from that its added new dimension to game and made it more interesting.

  • Lloyd on December 8, 2010, 14:54 GMT

    The umpire should be the final judge of all decisions.

    The UDRS should only be used for only marginal decisions - clean catch, run outs and stumpings as well as edged ball for catches, LBWs. The umpire if unsure should consult with the 3rd umpire who should be alert for such close decisions to avoid delays and time wasting.

    Hawkeye should NOT be used for LBWs, ie. would the ball hit the stumps. Too often pitches behave indifferently where the bounce is inconsistent to program that into a computer not to mention the pace of the ball as well as bowler's height, e.g. the ball could land on the same spot but bounce at different heights because of such variables and should not be trusted.

    A policy should be adopted whereby all international matches be subjected to such referrals with challenges by players being limited to the umpires discretion, ie. let the umpire decide if the referral is necessary. Players should understand the honor system is important to their credibility.

  • sree on December 8, 2010, 14:48 GMT

    story -mostly a story that is- heavily depends on comparing apples to oranges - india vs nz / Ashes ? & fabricated facts and theories - umpire might lean towards the team with no challenges or resent a team who asked for review ! refreshing; not sure how both co-exists !!! & and conclusions based on them :) Don't pretend like an expert when all you have to say is, "I hate UDRS, i don't know why... I just do"

  • Mark Wever on December 8, 2010, 14:48 GMT

    I totally agree with your remarks about "dual-morality". It is ridiculous that it is considered unfair to claim a catch which didn’t quite carry (even when this is sometimes very difficult for the fielder to judge), while it is generally accepted that batsmen don’t walk.

    This happens in other sports also. A football player who dives is ridiculed by all commentators, while nobody mentions the players who claim to the referee that it is their corner or trow-in, even when they know they were the last player to kick the ball out of the field.

  • Jai on December 8, 2010, 14:45 GMT

    UDRS is here to stay. And worked wonderfully in 95% of the cases. You point out to only one instance in two tests (Hussey's lbw call) which couldnt be captured by the system. We have seen batsmen not reviewing their faint nicks given out by umpires, for the fear of being caught and wasting referrals for future batsmen(Katich 2nd innings). And they are going for the review when they know they havent nicked it (Clarke early in his 2nd innings). To my mind these are the most obvious and devious set of howlers that have been eliminated by the system. What more do you want ?

    And yeah, Umpires' subconscious state of mind and Australian ethics are peripheral issues to all this.

  • Chaitanya on December 8, 2010, 14:45 GMT

    Pretty interesting comments.I agree with most of them.

  • Paritosh on December 8, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    Excellent write up Michael.. I guess the UDRS should be given to umpires only. Not to the teams. that way, the chances of howlers can be reduced based on the judgment of umpire who is supposed to be the judge. Lets keep the human element still there, else it would be boring... As some one from fifa who was quoted on the goal line technology.." what would you discuss at the pub after the game otherwise"

  • Farooq on December 8, 2010, 14:28 GMT

    Players cannot and should not be relied upon to act honestly in all circumstances. However, if all control is given to umpires, they would consult technology only when they aren't sure, and you would not avoid blatantly wrong decisions, such as Symonds' 'caught behind' against India a few years ago, which significantly influenced the course of that game.

    With UDRS, if a team uses up its challenges and an important decision goes against it, well, sorry, there's nothing they can do about it.

    And that's OK.

    UDRS is not there to get every decision right. It's there to give teams a chance to right blatantly wrong ones. And it's up to the teams to decide how to use this facility. They can rely on umpires' judgements on marginal calls and wait for the really wrong decisions OR they can lose challenges on marginal calls and risk missing a really wrong one.

    There's no need to get everything right all the time. UDRS is a tool whose 'intelligent' use can be very helpful.

  • Aditya on December 8, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    Errors can never be completely eliminated. This is the first time I have seen the UDRS in a series and I think the ICC have got very close to an optimal system. The most debatable of is the challange to the LBWs where the fielding team thinks everything was in line and the umpire does not. Even that appeared mostly logical at times. It is the same in tennis. Teams do what they have to do, to use it to their advantage. Michael Clarke had every reason to stays his ground even if he knew he had edged and the umpire did not. If that had happened a couple of times, Marcus North would have survived longer, when he was clearly out LBW. So be it. Fewer howlers are better than a lot of howlers. Nobody can get it down to zero, but don't use it as an excuse not to use the system.

  • Hashim Malik on December 8, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    a good piece with pertinent points.

  • Epee on December 8, 2010, 14:20 GMT

    My view on UDRS seems to e at odds with most people, certainly in the commentary box (and certainly Michael Holding). I have no probem with the reviews being used tactically. Cricket is a tactical game. If a captain want to risk his review on a faint hope against the oposition's star batsman, at the risk of someone down the order getting awa with one, that is fine with me. I quite enjoy the drama of the review (although nderstand those who hate it). Overall % correctness of decisions will be improved by the system, whether it is applied with player reviews or not. This has to be a good thing.

  • Dick Stockman on December 8, 2010, 14:15 GMT

    Sorry cannot agree with most of your conclusions

    1. No system is perfect. There is no evidence that it is "fundamentally flawed" 2. Just because it is not used in all cricket (for financial reasons)is not a valid reason to criticise UDRS - where it is used decision making is better 3. It is hardly used strategically - it is used when a team or individual feels strongly that there has been a miscarriage. Yes towards the end of an innings when you still have appeals in the bag why not appeal on the off-chance. How does that damage the game? 4. Clarke did look foolish when he appealed when he knew he hit it. That's good too - you're more likely to walk if UDRS is going to show that you are not morally sound!

  • unregisteredalien on December 8, 2010, 14:13 GMT

    Hoho! An enjoyable piece of telling-it-how-it-is.

  • Rohan on December 8, 2010, 14:06 GMT

    You are forgetting the Sydney test of 2007-2008. What you've said about Clarke is exactly what he and Symonds did then. And double standards are the way of life as far as Aussies are concerned. Michael Clarke being considered for future test captaincy is ridiculous. It makes Border, Taylor and Steve Waugh look like saints.

  • Anonymous on December 8, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    I believe that your point about fielders being hypocritical is wrong.

    In the field, and especially as a wicket keeper, it's impossible to know for sure in many instances whether it is a catch or not. Whether the ball has come off the bat, the glove, the forearm, or maybe only the pad, is much more difficult to discerne for a fieldsman than the umpire, particularly if the shot is hidden from the fielder by the batsman's body.

    On the other hand, a fielder instantly knows whether they have taken a catch or a bumper from the momentum and direction of the cricket ball. In this case the onus is on the fieldsman to clarify doubts by being an honest person.

    Basically, I think your argument shows a lack of thought on your part.

  • Bala on December 8, 2010, 14:03 GMT

    Good insights..IMO, UDRS must be used across without any exceptions. Hotspot cameras must be installed. Say for ex., out of every 10 decisions 4 are right in normal umpiring standards, the teams have got an option to refer 4 genuine cases in which we case we get 4 more decisions right which improves the umpiring success rate to 80%...Ofcourse for this, the % of genuine cases referred is important...if the teams waste the referrals, it serves no purpose...But as for everything in life, it takes time to understand the change and get used to it and finally master it to get the best out of it....For this to happen, ICC must implement it across board with conviction and not bullied by BCCI

  • Bollo on December 8, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    Michael,the issue of UDRS has no connection to the referral of Ponting`s catch as I`m sure you well know. Furthermore, Australia have consistently asked for this aspect of fielding to be based on player honesty. The implied connection between Ponting`s `self-righteous indignation` and disrespect of the system is a complete furphy.

  • Sri on December 8, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Hmmmpf. If morality was so important for the ICC in this 'gentlemanly' game then Umpires would have been relegated to the background and technology would be the final arbiter as in any other modern game (take the Olympics for instance where nanoseconds will be counted if needed, for fairness). Is the inordinate importance given to human umpires really warranted today? The traditional fear in the ICC about change and non-adaptability will always justify retaining Umps and the associated baggage. If the players knew that however vociferous their appeals, the truth will prevail as per the advanced technology in hand, will they even try to appeal knowing the end result ?

  • Rama on December 8, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    Awesome article, very good analysis. Keep articles like this coming..

  • Raja on December 8, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    I feel that the players shouldn't have the option to refer the field umpire decision. If the onfield umpires can discuss with TV/third umpires for decisions on runouts, why can't they consult decisions like LBW with them, if they are not sure (not all the ones, only when the one's he is not sure about). Is it possible to equip the umpires to hear from stump mics as sometimes due to high noise at the stadiums they tend to miss the snick :) (just a suggestion)

  • Henry on December 8, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    As with most things in life the UDRS has its flaws. Yes consistency in how its used around the world is an issue and how the players use it. One way to tweek it would be only one use of the UDRS per innings. That would make sure players would only really contest the absolute shockers. Or you can say to the side that they have "x" amount of reviews across 4 innings (2 batting and 2 fielding). I think it has its place but the first call of action would be to implement it all over the world and then think about adjusting it.

  • kannan on December 8, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    Michael, you are dreaming if you think that the players code of conduct is on its way. It is fair dinkum to be a sceptic about imperfect technology( albeit the best we have yet), but you cannot deny the inevitable for much longer ( ie, universal use of UDRS). My 2 cents. Either do not limit the referrals ( bad idea) or give the UDRS call to the umpire. If he feels that there is some doubt ( did it pitch outside leg, did he nick the one that was absolutely plumb otherwise), he should call for it rather than the players. An alternate thought is that the 3rd umpire should be able to correct howlers immediately by calling the field umpire on the walky.

  • gurbax on December 8, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    there was one such indcident where in Andrew Symonds was called back and the decision reverted by the field umpire himself upon realizing that the batsman had hit the ball before deviating it onto the pad... so such things do happen....this was in Srilanka 2004 off a left arm spinner....

  • ABH on December 8, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    True. The idea is to avoid umpiring howlers. That is all. Pure and Simple.

    Get rid of this "challenge" system. Have ALL decisions reviewed by the 3rd umpire. It takes a couple of minutes. SIMPLE.

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  • ABH on December 8, 2010, 13:25 GMT

    True. The idea is to avoid umpiring howlers. That is all. Pure and Simple.

    Get rid of this "challenge" system. Have ALL decisions reviewed by the 3rd umpire. It takes a couple of minutes. SIMPLE.

  • gurbax on December 8, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    there was one such indcident where in Andrew Symonds was called back and the decision reverted by the field umpire himself upon realizing that the batsman had hit the ball before deviating it onto the pad... so such things do happen....this was in Srilanka 2004 off a left arm spinner....

  • kannan on December 8, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    Michael, you are dreaming if you think that the players code of conduct is on its way. It is fair dinkum to be a sceptic about imperfect technology( albeit the best we have yet), but you cannot deny the inevitable for much longer ( ie, universal use of UDRS). My 2 cents. Either do not limit the referrals ( bad idea) or give the UDRS call to the umpire. If he feels that there is some doubt ( did it pitch outside leg, did he nick the one that was absolutely plumb otherwise), he should call for it rather than the players. An alternate thought is that the 3rd umpire should be able to correct howlers immediately by calling the field umpire on the walky.

  • Henry on December 8, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    As with most things in life the UDRS has its flaws. Yes consistency in how its used around the world is an issue and how the players use it. One way to tweek it would be only one use of the UDRS per innings. That would make sure players would only really contest the absolute shockers. Or you can say to the side that they have "x" amount of reviews across 4 innings (2 batting and 2 fielding). I think it has its place but the first call of action would be to implement it all over the world and then think about adjusting it.

  • Raja on December 8, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    I feel that the players shouldn't have the option to refer the field umpire decision. If the onfield umpires can discuss with TV/third umpires for decisions on runouts, why can't they consult decisions like LBW with them, if they are not sure (not all the ones, only when the one's he is not sure about). Is it possible to equip the umpires to hear from stump mics as sometimes due to high noise at the stadiums they tend to miss the snick :) (just a suggestion)

  • Rama on December 8, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    Awesome article, very good analysis. Keep articles like this coming..

  • Sri on December 8, 2010, 13:57 GMT

    Hmmmpf. If morality was so important for the ICC in this 'gentlemanly' game then Umpires would have been relegated to the background and technology would be the final arbiter as in any other modern game (take the Olympics for instance where nanoseconds will be counted if needed, for fairness). Is the inordinate importance given to human umpires really warranted today? The traditional fear in the ICC about change and non-adaptability will always justify retaining Umps and the associated baggage. If the players knew that however vociferous their appeals, the truth will prevail as per the advanced technology in hand, will they even try to appeal knowing the end result ?

  • Bollo on December 8, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    Michael,the issue of UDRS has no connection to the referral of Ponting`s catch as I`m sure you well know. Furthermore, Australia have consistently asked for this aspect of fielding to be based on player honesty. The implied connection between Ponting`s `self-righteous indignation` and disrespect of the system is a complete furphy.

  • Bala on December 8, 2010, 14:03 GMT

    Good insights..IMO, UDRS must be used across without any exceptions. Hotspot cameras must be installed. Say for ex., out of every 10 decisions 4 are right in normal umpiring standards, the teams have got an option to refer 4 genuine cases in which we case we get 4 more decisions right which improves the umpiring success rate to 80%...Ofcourse for this, the % of genuine cases referred is important...if the teams waste the referrals, it serves no purpose...But as for everything in life, it takes time to understand the change and get used to it and finally master it to get the best out of it....For this to happen, ICC must implement it across board with conviction and not bullied by BCCI

  • Anonymous on December 8, 2010, 14:04 GMT

    I believe that your point about fielders being hypocritical is wrong.

    In the field, and especially as a wicket keeper, it's impossible to know for sure in many instances whether it is a catch or not. Whether the ball has come off the bat, the glove, the forearm, or maybe only the pad, is much more difficult to discerne for a fieldsman than the umpire, particularly if the shot is hidden from the fielder by the batsman's body.

    On the other hand, a fielder instantly knows whether they have taken a catch or a bumper from the momentum and direction of the cricket ball. In this case the onus is on the fieldsman to clarify doubts by being an honest person.

    Basically, I think your argument shows a lack of thought on your part.