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November 17, 2009
Dave Richardson, the ICC's general manager of cricket, has launched a last-ditch attempt to salvage the Umpire Decision Review System. Richardson has spent much of the week locked in discussions with boards and broadcasters from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to convince them to carry the cost of a programme designed to assist umpires in the decision-making process.
India has already stated it will not use the controversial and costly system for the home Test series against Sri Lanka, and Gerald Majola, the chief executive of Cricket South Africa, told Cricinfo last week his board was not prepared to foot the implementation bill for the UDRS. Richardson is not confident of changing the minds of the South Africans prior to their home Test series against England, but is more optimistic of convincing Australia and New Zealand to proceed with the system.
"In South Africa we are still talking to the broadcaster, so it's not definitely off but I would have to say it is unlikely at this stage," Richardson told Cricinfo. "India say they don't want to have it, but I'm not sure whether that's come from an issue between the BCCI and Nimbus or elsewhere. I am slightly more confident that it will be implemented in Australia, and I am more hopeful that it will be in New Zealand."
The major stumbling block for the referrals system has been the ICC's insistence that national boards and/or broadcasters meet the implementation costs. Richardson concedes the global recession is a "very big factor" in deterring broadcasters from absorbing the additional costs, but is adamant the UDRS stands to benefit the game.
"If the ICC pays then all members will be sharing the cost to provide someone else's series," he said. "We're in a difficult interim period at the moment where boards have existing deals with broadcasters. We're going to have to fight through it. We have to rely on members to persuade their broadcast partners of the merits of this. It is good for the game, and broadcasters have an opportunity to commercialise the technology."
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