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December 7, 2009
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Former umpire Dickie Bird has criticised the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), saying it undermines the authority of on-field umpires. The system is currently being used in the Test series between Australia and West Indies, and New Zealand and Pakistan.
"I would never have brought them in," Bird told the Daily Telegraph. "They are taking the authority away from the on-field umpires, and the whole thing is causing more problems than it's worth."
Bird's comments come in the aftermath of umpire Mark Benson's sudden withdrawal from the Adelaide Test between Australia and West Indies, and reports stating he was heading towards retirement out of frustration with the UDRS. The Sunday Times reported yesterday that Benson was upset over several incidents involving the UDRS on day one of the Test, one of which led to his original decision being overturned.
"In the old days, controversial decisions became talking points in the bars and clubs but everybody respected the umpire's authority," Bird said. "I am in agreement with Roger Federer, who wanted Hawk-Eye thrown out of Wimbledon, and [FIFA president] Sepp Blatter, who says that refereeing decisions are part of football.
"Players should accept these things and move on, but all the money that has come into sport has turned their heads."
Jeremy Lloyds, the English umpire, who stepped down from umpiring at the highest level in 2006, spoke of the strains involved, given the nature of the job, and the effects of decisions coming under scrutiny on television. "I was working 230 days a year, of which 150 were spent in airports or hotels," he said. "The time you actually spend on the field, you feel that you're in a goldfish bowl, and you can't be yourself with the players in case it doesn't look right on TV."
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