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November 24, 2009
The first priority of the umpire review system is to eliminate obvious mistakes but the man in charge of implementing the technology hopes it will also lead to a new generation of walkers. Dave Richardson, the ICC's cricket operations manager, believes an indirect benefit of the two-appeals-per-innings innovation, which was implemented full-time in New Zealand on Tuesday and Australia from Thursday, will be more batsmen not hanging around when they've edged behind.
In the 11-Test trial Richardson said not only did the percentage of correct decisions improve by 6%, but they noticed the players, the only ones who can call for a review under this part of the system, were adhering more closely to the spirit of cricket. "I quite like the idea of putting a bit of responsibility on them, they are very quick to shake their heads and wave their bat around when they get an inside edge," he said at the Gabba. "Let's see how brave they are when it comes to actually taking that responsibility.
"Initially when we spoke we thought a possible indirect benefit might be that batsmen, when they do edge a ball, won't hang around and will walk anyway because they will be inevitably given out in the long run and they might be shown up as, not cheats, but certainly not playing within the spirit."
Richardson said there were fewer issues of dissent from the players and there was also less pressure being placed on the on-field officials by the bowling side. "We've found in the trials that the vociferous appealing, and appealing when you know it's not out, just to try to convince the umpire has seemed to go out of the game.
"What's worse for the game, Steve Bucknor's effigy getting burnt in India from a bad decision or the opportunity to rectify his mistake and hopefully improving the spirit by saying to the players: it's your game, your responsibility. You hit it, you walk, if you don't think it's out, don't appeal."
Nine out of the ten ICC members voted for the adoption of the system in internationals - England were not in favour because it is the players who generate the review - but it still relies on the host broadcaster having the technology, which can include Hawk-eye, pitch maps, hot spot and super slo-mo. Hot spot will not be available to the umpires during the Australia-West Indies series, but the third official will always have the same replays as the fans in their lounge rooms.
"Unfortunately in this day and age the guy's not out when the umpire raises his finger, he's out when Ian Chappell or Mark Nicholas says he's the out," Richardson said. "The modern view is we need to use technology."
Simon Katich, Australia's opening batsman, said the system worked well for the team in South Africa at the start of the year. "We tended to use it at the right time," he said. "We certainly had no dramas on it."
David Williams, the West Indies coach, said it was good to know the decisions would be well-made. "If the technology is there and used properly then I have absolutely no problem with it," he said.
Richardson wants to make one thing clear: it won't be perfect. While the human element is being downgraded, there is still scope for doubt. "It's so important for the person at home watching on television to understand that we are still not going to get 100% of the decisions right, because there are going to be some decisions that aren't conclusive from the technology point of view. The obvious ones we'll eradicate."
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