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May 11, 2006
"Umpires are always defensive about their own decisions," said Dave Richardson, the ICC's general manager - cricket, before insisting that technology was there to help, not hinder officials, by sparing them from the intense scrutiny that surrounds even the most marginal of bad calls.
"I often point to him [Bucknor] as a very good example of why we need to give technology a go," said Richardson. "He's done particularly well this year. After not a great year last year, he's averaging around 96% of his decisions being correct, and yet he's made one or two decisions which have come in for terrible criticism from the media and from fans writing in to us."
Richardson's views were backed by Steve Norris, head of production at Ten Sports. "I am very surprised to know what Bucknor has said," Norris told PTI. "I have been in this field for 20 years and I have never come across such a thing. It just doesn't happen. There might have been technical mistakes but that is absolutely human error which batsmen, bowlers and everyone does."
Brian Murgatroyd, the ICC's media and communications manager, said extending the use of technology was an issue which needed to be discussed and debated from all perspectives. "From that point of view, I guess Steve has contributed to the debate," he said. Asked to comment on Bucknor's remark that production crews often failed to provide crucial frames, Norris said "it is a television thing. Normally there are 25 frames per second. What Bucknor is talking about we call 'between frames'."
"People must remember that things like Hawk-Eye, Strike Zone [the imaginary mat projected stump to stump for leg before decisions] were never designed for umpires," said Norris. "These are for viewers' appreciation ... The Hawk-Eye is 90 percent accurate, that is what they [the creators of the technology] claim.
"I often say to people, 'go back 20 years to the days of run-out decisions without cameras'. You have to just imagine how many times players were hard done in those instances," Norris continued. "Television has taken the pressure off the umpires; it has made some of the decisions so much easier. In general, all these years technology has only proved that umpires make the right decision, that majority of their decisions are correct."
K Hariharan, an ICC international umpire, was cautious while commenting on Bucknor's charge. "I have not come across such a thing but if Bucknor says so, he must have had such an experience." He also welcomed the ICC's recent decision to provide more technological help to umpires. "The earpiece connected to the stump microphones is really very helpful. In fact, we have been telling the ICC to provide us this for some time now. We raised this at the Sydney meeting last year."
Richardson said it was not the ICC's intention to have the umpires appear bad or lose respect. "It's kind of a lesser of two evils. We don't want to compromise the spirit of cricket and we don't want the players having little respect for the on-field umpires, but on the other we want to avoid umpiring controversies."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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