Umpiring technology

Koertzen calls for UDRS in every Test

Brydon Coverdale

July 28, 2010

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Mohammad Amir bowls during the second Test at Headingley, which will be Rudi Koertzen's last as an umpire, Pakistan v Australia, 2nd Test, Headingley, July 21, 2010
The UDRS was not used in Rudi Koertzen's final Test, between Pakistan and Australia at Headingley © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Rudi Koertzen

The newly-retired umpire Rudi Koertzen has called for the decision review system to be included in every Test series after he bowed out with a tour that did not feature the UDRS. Koertzen is remaining involved in the game as the ICC's new Regional Umpires' Performance Manager for the Africa region, and he will help mentor young umpires coming through the ranks.

One of the problems for the next generation of officials will be handling the added pressure of constant replays that can show the most miniscule error in their decisions. Technologies like HawkEye and Hot Spot can assist the decision-making process, but the cost of the system is a sticking point for some home boards and broadcasters, who determine whether the UDRS is used in a series.

Koertzen, who has umpired more Tests than any other man besides Steve Bucknor, ended his career on the weekend with the final Test of the Pakistan-Australia contest in Leeds. Decision reviews were not used on that tour and are not being employed in the ongoing Sri Lanka-India series, which Koertzen believes adds undue pressure for umpires.

"You should have it in every single series," Koertzen told Cricinfo. "Somehow, somebody has to come up with a deal and say we will support this, we will sponsor it. It's no use having it when South Africa play Australia or in the Ashes, and then you have for example Sri Lanka playing Bangladesh and you can't have it.

"I don't think that's fair on the umpires because in one Test you get some sort of assistance and in the other one you're on your own. It's only going to make it harder for the guys if it goes that route."

Although Koertzen and his colleague Ian Gould largely had a good series in England, there were still occasional decisions that could have been overturned had the players had the right of review. Koertzen said standing in the middle of a venue such as Lord's, having no access to TV while the world watched slow-motion replays, was a difficult task.

"You make a decision and you watch the [corporate] suites - there are maybe a hundred suites," Koertzen said. "Everyone sitting there jumps up and goes to look at the monitor inside their suite to see if you've made the right decision or not. That is sad because it puts a hell of a lot of pressure on you. At the end of the day you're the only guy who knows if you did your best or not.

"With the technology, millions of people can see if you got it wrong. You stand there and think you made a good decision and then you hear a few boos from upstairs and you think, maybe I did get that wrong. You won't know until you walk off the field and you have a chat with the third umpire and the match referee."

The ICC is keen for the review system to be rolled out in every Test, and it will be in operation for the England-Pakistan series that begins on Thursday. However long it takes for the UDRS to be fully incorporated at the elite level, one thing that is not likely to change is the process of players requesting reviews.

Umpires have the power to call for replays on line-calls, such as run-outs, or to help adjudicate on catches low to the ground. But handing control of the UDRS to the men standing in the middle is not on the agenda for the ICC, and Koertzen is content for the players to be given an opportunity to have a decision reexamined.

"I don't think it will lower the dignity of the umpire," Koertzen said. "I think that's just an excuse from some guys that maybe don't want the players to show the rest of the world that he got it wrong. You might fall in the trap where if you're weak, you might go upstairs for every single decision you make."

One of the tasks for Koertzen in his new regional role in Africa, where he has replaced the Zimbabwean Ian Robinson, will be to help young umpires improve their skills to allow them to move from lower levels to the international stage. That involves managing a match as much as making decisions, and Koertzen hopes to pass on some of the lessons he learnt during his two decades on the international circuit.

"It's not just about going out there and umpiring, putting money in your pocket," he said. "It's about respect and all those kind of things, which I hopefully can help these youngsters with. When I started it wasn't that hard. We had TV but they never scrutinised you as much as these days. It's going to be hard on these boys. They've got to understand it's a professional game."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (August 1, 2010, 14:44 GMT)

If UDRS was used. Rudy may be the umpire who made highest number of errors in his decisions.

Posted by Smithie on (July 30, 2010, 10:05 GMT)

UDRS again proved its worth on the first day of Eng/Pak at Trent Bridge. It is strange that this article has supposedly not attracted one comment from the usually voluble Sub Continental readers over at least three days. My first attempted comment was not shown- presumably because it chided the BCCI for its reluctance to embrace UDRS. Cricinfo editing bias ? UDRS improves cricket - it is nothing to be gun shy about. Common you Indian readers put some pressure on the BCCI to embrace it - and start with the Australian series in Oct.

Posted by   on (July 30, 2010, 2:33 GMT)

100% agree.we need consistency and UDRS avoid obvious bad mistakes.

Posted by Mohd123 on (July 29, 2010, 19:13 GMT)

I am agree with Rudi, i would like to add some more points which needs to be taken care. If the UDRS decision goes against the umpire then the number of remaining review should not be deducted from the team who asked for review. If the UDRS decision goes with the umpire decision then this should be deducted from the next remaining reviews for that team which is asked for.

Posted by SatyaKrishna on (July 29, 2010, 18:49 GMT)

Yeah Rudi, you better support that! We definitely need URDS in cricket. I still remember when Rudi gave Sanga out in Hobart to end one of the best innings ever played, he could have won the match single handedlly and all cricket fans were robbed of possibly the best test match chase ever! I don't know about SL fans but I felt so furious!!

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (July 29, 2010, 10:38 GMT)

I have one word - "Yes". There should be no doubt whatsoever that UDRS is available, with all of its bells and whistles, in every single test series. As for the costs, that should be borne by the ICC. Put a tax on all test-playing countries and take it out of the pool from that tax to ensure that it is involved in each and every test series, complete with hot spot, snicko, LBW mat and every single other thing. Then let umpires do their job. I would even go further and say that umpires should go back to calling run outs live - let the players dispute it if they think they are not out if given (or the other way around). Let's let umpires do their job and let the players decide if they are hardly done by.

Posted by   on (July 29, 2010, 7:57 GMT)

nice to see death decision in feature....

Posted by   on (July 29, 2010, 6:50 GMT)

Rudi is being a sport here. But why does a bad decision (One/Two among 20+ in a test) have to influence the result; that I do not get. A team wins or loses a test not solely because of bad decisions. You cannot depend upon an umpire for your result. Let us take the example of Sydney test; among all the ruckus created; if we isolate the bad decisions on criticality; then there were only two; Symmo Not Caught MSD Bowled Ishant and Dravid (Did Not Nick) Caught Gilchrist Bowled Symmo. In the first case Symmo did well to get to his ton from there. In the other case; India has to blame; they lost 3 wicket to Michael Clarke in the last few minutes. More than the bad decisions; I think we know that Symmo won that test for Australia as well as RP, Ishant and MSD did not survive the last 10 minutes. Great Test Match Cricket; thats all.

Posted by Woody111 on (July 29, 2010, 3:52 GMT)

Well said, Rudi. It is nonsense to introduce a system to minimise errors but only selectively use it. Imagine you only had the third umpire for certain matches! I think giving each side a number of referrals works - so many umpires nowadays refer clear run-outs upstairs because they're afraid to make a call.

Posted by prasant69 on (July 29, 2010, 3:40 GMT)

if UDRS system applied then there will no chance of field umpire,why rudi supports this the system always blame a umpire

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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