ICC Super Series 2005-06 October 4, 2005

Technology will make third umpire crucial

Cricinfo staff

Melbourne's Telstra Dome: it will be a dead ball in the unlikely event it hits the roof © Getty Images
If the teams fail to comply with the prescribed over-rates in the ICC Super Series, the match referee is likely to take a closer look at the umpires than the bowling captain. The matches between Australia and the World XI will serve as trial ground for on-field umpires to refer all decisions, barring catches close to the ground, to the television umpire thus leading to frequent stoppages.

Not only can Aleem Dar and Simon Taufel, who will umpire the first one-day-international at the Telstra Dome at Melbourne on Wednesday, seek the opinion of Rudy Koertzen, the television umpire, in decisions involving nicks and the line and the height of the ball in case of lbws, they can also, if in doubt, ask the third umpire to adjudicate no-balls.

In principle, this could mean every dismissal, including bowled and clear catches, can be referred to the third umpire. "In case of the no-balls," said a ICC spokesperson, "field umpires will go to the television umpire only if a no-ball is in the realm of possibility. In most cases, umpires are quite clear about the no-ball." However, going by the evidence of how reluctant most umpires are to rule on the clearest of run-outs and stumpings, it is not unlikely that umpires will choose to play safe and leave the decision to the television camera.

In case of lbws, umpires can not only seek a ruling on where the ball pitched, but also obtain valuable feedback in determining the height of the ball and if there was a nick. However, the third umpire will have to make up his mind by watching only the television replay and not by using Hawkeye, the ball-tracking technology that is widely used by television channels.

However, even though the third umpire will acquire a critical role in the Super Series, he will still not have the powers to reverse a wrong decision or give unsolicited advice. "The umpires in the middle will continue to be supreme," the ICC spokesperson said. "The new regulations will only empower them to make more accurate decisions."

The matter was discussed at length at a meeting between the match officials and the two captains on Tuesday. "There were quite a few issues to discuss," said Shaun Pollock, the captain of the World XI. "We had to make sure we understood where the players stood. We need to be able to tell our players what they can expect when they take the field tomorrow."

Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain was concerned that the frequent referrals could slow down the game considerably. He said, "Potentially every decision can be referred. We will have to see how it works out. The match referee will have to take these delays into account while ruling the over-rates."

All the three one-day matches will be played under a roof which, though retractable, will stay in place for the entire duration of the match. And this raises the possibility of a new regulation in the unlikely event of the ball hitting the metal roof. In which case, it will be a dead ball.