May 16, 2008

Good move, bad move

The MCC's proposal to limit the power of cricket bats has merit; the ICC's decision to trial the umpiring referral system doesn't
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More power to the MCC, less to the batsman: a bat Matthew Hayden trialled has been found to not fit the new specifications © Getty Images

Albert Einstein famously never worried about the future - it arrived soon enough. A fast-arriving future, however, seems to be worrying cricket a great deal. Few weeks have shown cricket's divided consciousness about the promise of technology as clearly as the last.

First of all, the MCC, in its capacity as holder of the worldwide copyright on the Laws of Cricket, rewrote Law 6 to curb experiments aimed at making already powerful bats more powerful yet. No sooner had this been digested than the ICC, in its capacity as holder of a worldwide reputation for being unable to organise a piss-up in a brewery with Oliver Reed and Keith Moon, foreshadowed an experiment under which captains will be permitted to refer three decisions per innings to a third umpire. The MCC is probably right; the ICC is almost certainly wrong.

If you've been playing cricket in the last decade, even at low levels, you'll have noticed that bats are way more powerful than of yore. As someone who finds it psychically impossible to discard bats, and has a veritable belfry of them at home, the comparison staggers me. The bat I switched to last season is so good it almost plays the shot for me - just as well, really. When the ball hits the middle, it emits a sound as euphonious as a violin concerto. But if I hit a ball with the one I played with ten years ago, the noise is like that of fingernails on a blackboard. That improvement, if it has not already gone too far, has certainly gone far enough, and the squeals of bat-makers should be ignored.

"Tennis used to be played with wooden racquets and now it is much faster and more exciting," complained Gray-Nicolls' marketing manager. Capacity for false analogy is probably why he is in marketing: the contest in cricket is between bat and ball, not racquet and racquet. Nor is it entirely true to claim that the transition from wooden to metal racquets was an unmitigated good; you'll find plenty of tennis traditionalists who lament the obsolescence of the touch player, who was blasted out of the game by weight of stroke. And not even in tennis does "faster" translate automatically as "more exciting", or every clay court would have be been relaid with Rebound Ace.

Cricket is also a game with dense statistical records, whose integrity it has to protect. When more than a quarter of the runs in the IPL are being scored in sixes, the game's currency is being debauched by power hitting. In fact, this shows why it is wise to have the MCC as an independent law-giver. If the poobahs and MBAs in power elsewhere had their druthers, bats would soon be as wide as gates and grounds the size of tennis courts.

The MCC, for all its reputation for gin-soaked doddering, does at least have some coherent idea of cricket's greater good. If only the same could be said of the ICC, presently without a CEO, CFO, in-house counsel, and point: the decision to aim for the half-pregnancy of three referrals per innings to the third umpire is risible even by their own debased standards. As Ian Chappell put it with characteristic pith: "Following an occasionally spiteful Test series between Australia and India, where much of the controversy arose due to the umpires having reduced control on the field, the solution proposed by the ICC is to further undermine the authority of the arbiters." But given that to "stand in the way of progress" nowadays invites being thought of as a luddite or obscurantist, it may be worth turning over some of the reasons why improving the precision of decisions by technology is thought worthwhile.

There is, for instance, the old chestnut that a cricketer's career could be cruelled by an umpire's mistake. Ahem - can you remember one? Arguably, if it should transpire that a player's whole future hinges on one decision, then he has only himself to blame should it go against him. And on the whole, in fact, cricketers are far more reasonable about decisions than fans. Mike Atherton has put this most succinctly: "Life is unfair. Why should cricket be any different?"

At the same time, it is confidently asserted that the introduction of technology will eliminate room for doubt. Yet this assumption that analysis leads at all events to greater clarity is not actually a given: sometimes further analysis introduces doubt previously absent. There was an interesting example of this in the Super Test that wasn't at the SCG in October 2005, where, if you recall, umpires were empowered to refer all decisions to an upstairs VJ. The first such reference followed Matthew Hayden opting to pad up to the third ball after lunch on the first day, which pitched in line and carried on to hit the knee roll. A club umpire would have given Hayden out without hesitation; Hayden admitted later thinking he was "absolutely dead". Receiving the referral from Simon Taufel, however, Darrell Hair, brooded deeply on multiple replays, somehow located a scintilla of doubt, perhaps about the height, and allowed Hayden to carry on to a fat hundred. Asked after that game if the technology had improved the quality of the officiation, World XI captain Graeme Smith said simply: "No."



The referrals system makes the umpires' thankless task more thankless still by adding on the likelihood of public humiliation © Getty Images

An attitude has insinuated itself into cricket that umpires exist purely and simply as part of the game's machinery - as necessary, but also about as worthy of consideration as the heavy roller or the Super Sopper. This is lamentable. Umpiring involves a knowledge base and set of skills every bit as demanding as playing - in the respect that they are never off duty, even more so. Why should their thankless task be made more thankless by the possibility of public humiliation because they are not possessed of supernatural powers, because the naked eye cannot magically capture what it has just seen and replay it at slow motion?

It is fascinating that such angst should attend the possibility of a mistaken decision in a game of cricket: a glimmer of human fallibility and we carry on like 9/11 Truthers. There was a time when we regarded cricket as a test of character, one of the challenges it posed being the manful acceptance of a decision not correct but made in good faith. At grassroots level, this is still the case. Which is why when Kumar Sangakkara accepted the fallibility of Rudi Koertzen at the Bellerive Oval last season, he grew in stature as a man as surely as his innings had enriched his standing as a player; which is why when Rahul Dravid swallowed his gall in Sydney a month later, he won many admirers. TS Eliot once wrote that "it is impossible to design a system so perfect that no one needs to be good". Yet this seems to be the ICC's aim: an arrangement under which there will never be any ground for disappointment, so that nobody need ever cope with it.

Tellingly, the people who theoretically stand to benefit most directly from this new policy are ambivalent about it. Michael Kasprowicz, who had rather more reason than most to complain of umpiring error after his misfortune at Edgbaston three years ago, commented: "It's all a part of the game. Part of the beauty of cricket was that there was room for human error and sometimes it went your way, sometimes it didn't. It all evened out in the end." Then he added, very shrewdly: "Today, with all the money invested in cricket, the shareholders are going to demand the right decision all the time. You don't pay $800 million for a cricket team to let an umpire's error ruin it for you."

Aye, Kasper, there's the rub. For this decision concerns not the welfare of cricketers at all, and certainly not that of the game. It is primarily about money. At some stage in the future, millions of dollars might ride on the lbw decision given against the star batsman of the Mangalore Miami Vices, where the ball might have pitched an inch or two outside leg stump. This, it has been resolved, cannot possibly be left to a mere human being. But when cricket is thought too important to be left to mere humans, then it is in danger of mattering too much to be enjoyed.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Oz08 on May 18, 2008, 10:55 GMT

    A referral system has already been trialed in England and it failed. The players didn't want to use it and it was widely slammed. Anyone who has played the game knows that accepting the umpire's decision is a fundamental part of the game. Does anyone really want to encourage a situation where players are in umpire's faces (like in football)questioning their decisions? This is the thin edge of the wedge. How do you explain to children that it's alright for international cricketers to question decisions, but it's not alright for them. The ICC needs to realise that the decisions they make and the actions of international players flow down to every level of cricket. Their loyalty should lie with the game, not with professional sportsmen and businessmen who have too many vested interests to make the right decisions.

  • boris2008 on May 17, 2008, 20:01 GMT

    "There is, for instance, the old chestnut that a cricketer's career could be cruelled by an umpire's mistake. Ahem - can you remember one?"

    Actually yes I can - Damien Martyn got a series of stinkers in the Ashes series in England when he looked to be one of the few Australia players to be in some kind of touch. The kinds of decisions that went against him were exactly the type that could be referred.

  • rnarayan on May 17, 2008, 6:43 GMT

    Mr Haigh, I'm with you on bats, but not on referrals. First, the "Human Element" is for the players, not Umpires. Judges in court are not expected to "be human". Umpiring should not influence the game if it can be avoided. Second, the TV Umpire would be expected to rule on issues of fact,(did the ball pitch outside leg, did it strike the batsman in line with the stumps), and not predict where the ball would have gone afterwards. The viewpoint from a raised camera does not enable the TV Ump to make that judgement, it is for the onfield umpire to judge, for he is in the best position. Third, I don't see how presenting all the FACTS to the umpire to enable him to make an informed judgement can detract from his authority. Surely, that is preferable to making a decision that looks stupid later. I would much prefer that Umpires referred thing of their own accord, rather than have the players do it. Now, THAT is detracting from an Umpire's authority.

  • ExCric on May 17, 2008, 3:27 GMT

    Most people who buy a house would love an exterior to look traditional, but would prefer it to have new amenities, like central heating, cooling, ducted vacumn. By that same reason people who pay for a team would love to make it more interesting with fours and sixes. This could be the best reason for new fans of cricket in the soccer mad and ice hockey nations to watch. And no disrespect intended, players from those wooden era tennis matches do not match 70% of the athleticism shown today. This proves players have not gotten slack with all the new technology. With respect to the issue about referrals I would just like to add, ask any english soccer fan what they think of Diego Maradona and his 'hand of god' goal, How they wish they could have had a referral for that one. Umpires like soccer referees are quite often not spot on and in games played with high passion, it is best to have a check on dubious decisions capable of changing the course of a game.

  • MrBobDobalina on May 17, 2008, 2:55 GMT

    The umpires role may be reduced and so may be bit of the games "charm" but how much charm was in evidence last summer? I think we could all do without the angst created by events at Sydney and some feelings are still raw. Everybody lost the plot including a few journalists. Such events harm the game more than tinkering around the edges of umpiring laws could ever do.

    Perhaps those who want to play under the old laws could still have the option to agreeing before the series, so that those who're less 911 Truthers about this (and more concerned with history and charm) can still play the way they want to.

  • qazah on May 17, 2008, 2:54 GMT

    My and my friends play for fun, and more than often, whoever is batting domintes for the simple reason that the bats are way too strong. someone who is given an old bat, which is simply relied on timing would have a hard time adjusting..

    and to make bats even stronger!? are the icc out of their minds, i mean, first small grounds (65m), then intro of T20, and now larger bats?

    a couple of weeks ago symonds complained because the pitch was not upto "T20 standards". well cant one match go on without realling testing the batsman abilities? is it all about hitting

  • KingOwl on May 17, 2008, 1:58 GMT

    Mr. Haigh brings some ludicrous arguements against third umpire referrals. 1. Life is unfair, therefore cricket should also be! First of all he is quoting the convicted cheat, Atherton. Secondly, it would be stupid not to try to make things fairer. 2. He cites an incident where Hair chose to give Hayden not out! Da! Is that so surprising. Hair is an umpire reviled by everybody, and banned by the ICC. If Mr. Haigh has to quote/cite the worst of the cricketing personalities to support his arguments, then it is likely his arguements are false themselves.

  • omer_admani on May 17, 2008, 0:55 GMT

    The argument that the umpires in the middle are the best people in position to make the right decision is not only generally flawed, but also borderline insane. The nub of the argument is that there are a few decisions that can't be precisely corrected with technology because of its limitations. However, the crux of the argument in favor of technology is far more relevant, because a plumb lbw not given or a clear miss given out are far more common. As far as we can ever 'know', the few decisions that are unreliable because of technological limitation still stand unreliable even if the umpire makes them with the naked eye. What justice is there to lose? The title of Autherton's book misses the point. Life is unfair, but we in our capacity 'tend' to make it fair so long as we can. That stands as our primary motivation, or there wouldn't any redistribution of wealth. It's the same point that is also missed so often by people against further use of technology.

  • ragzus on May 16, 2008, 23:49 GMT

    I wonder who in the world appreciates human error in any form of life, let alone sports. I don't agree that human error in cricket makes it more exciting. This brings up one more question: how do you know if a mistake was a genuine mistake or intentional mistake. If I'm in the crowd, rooting for my favorite team, how frustrating it'll be if a "human error" costs my fav team the match? Most of the sports in the world are embracing technology so that the real human ability is on display. Hope, the use of technology in cricket is successful!!!

  • abhi2023 on May 16, 2008, 22:09 GMT

    I totally agree with the first half and completely disagree with the second half. The argument that tennis is different from cricket is quite right. Faster racquets may have made tennis more interesting (I doubt that though) but there the contest is between racquet and racquet. Cricket's contest is between ball and bat. So if you are making bats more powerful, why not make balls heavier? If you load bat and hence batsmen, why not bowlers? Think about cricket being played by 11 batsmen and bowlers being replaced by a bowling machine. That day may not be far. So I agree that to preserve skill, bats can be powered but there has to be a ceiling. Now the argument that since "life is unfair. Why should cricket be any different?" made me laugh. Can you make any more stupid argument? Yes you can. "Life is unfair. Why should courts be any different?" "Life is unfair, Why should .... be any different?" I will leave it up to you to fill in the blanks but that the most stupid one I have seen :)

  • Oz08 on May 18, 2008, 10:55 GMT

    A referral system has already been trialed in England and it failed. The players didn't want to use it and it was widely slammed. Anyone who has played the game knows that accepting the umpire's decision is a fundamental part of the game. Does anyone really want to encourage a situation where players are in umpire's faces (like in football)questioning their decisions? This is the thin edge of the wedge. How do you explain to children that it's alright for international cricketers to question decisions, but it's not alright for them. The ICC needs to realise that the decisions they make and the actions of international players flow down to every level of cricket. Their loyalty should lie with the game, not with professional sportsmen and businessmen who have too many vested interests to make the right decisions.

  • boris2008 on May 17, 2008, 20:01 GMT

    "There is, for instance, the old chestnut that a cricketer's career could be cruelled by an umpire's mistake. Ahem - can you remember one?"

    Actually yes I can - Damien Martyn got a series of stinkers in the Ashes series in England when he looked to be one of the few Australia players to be in some kind of touch. The kinds of decisions that went against him were exactly the type that could be referred.

  • rnarayan on May 17, 2008, 6:43 GMT

    Mr Haigh, I'm with you on bats, but not on referrals. First, the "Human Element" is for the players, not Umpires. Judges in court are not expected to "be human". Umpiring should not influence the game if it can be avoided. Second, the TV Umpire would be expected to rule on issues of fact,(did the ball pitch outside leg, did it strike the batsman in line with the stumps), and not predict where the ball would have gone afterwards. The viewpoint from a raised camera does not enable the TV Ump to make that judgement, it is for the onfield umpire to judge, for he is in the best position. Third, I don't see how presenting all the FACTS to the umpire to enable him to make an informed judgement can detract from his authority. Surely, that is preferable to making a decision that looks stupid later. I would much prefer that Umpires referred thing of their own accord, rather than have the players do it. Now, THAT is detracting from an Umpire's authority.

  • ExCric on May 17, 2008, 3:27 GMT

    Most people who buy a house would love an exterior to look traditional, but would prefer it to have new amenities, like central heating, cooling, ducted vacumn. By that same reason people who pay for a team would love to make it more interesting with fours and sixes. This could be the best reason for new fans of cricket in the soccer mad and ice hockey nations to watch. And no disrespect intended, players from those wooden era tennis matches do not match 70% of the athleticism shown today. This proves players have not gotten slack with all the new technology. With respect to the issue about referrals I would just like to add, ask any english soccer fan what they think of Diego Maradona and his 'hand of god' goal, How they wish they could have had a referral for that one. Umpires like soccer referees are quite often not spot on and in games played with high passion, it is best to have a check on dubious decisions capable of changing the course of a game.

  • MrBobDobalina on May 17, 2008, 2:55 GMT

    The umpires role may be reduced and so may be bit of the games "charm" but how much charm was in evidence last summer? I think we could all do without the angst created by events at Sydney and some feelings are still raw. Everybody lost the plot including a few journalists. Such events harm the game more than tinkering around the edges of umpiring laws could ever do.

    Perhaps those who want to play under the old laws could still have the option to agreeing before the series, so that those who're less 911 Truthers about this (and more concerned with history and charm) can still play the way they want to.

  • qazah on May 17, 2008, 2:54 GMT

    My and my friends play for fun, and more than often, whoever is batting domintes for the simple reason that the bats are way too strong. someone who is given an old bat, which is simply relied on timing would have a hard time adjusting..

    and to make bats even stronger!? are the icc out of their minds, i mean, first small grounds (65m), then intro of T20, and now larger bats?

    a couple of weeks ago symonds complained because the pitch was not upto "T20 standards". well cant one match go on without realling testing the batsman abilities? is it all about hitting

  • KingOwl on May 17, 2008, 1:58 GMT

    Mr. Haigh brings some ludicrous arguements against third umpire referrals. 1. Life is unfair, therefore cricket should also be! First of all he is quoting the convicted cheat, Atherton. Secondly, it would be stupid not to try to make things fairer. 2. He cites an incident where Hair chose to give Hayden not out! Da! Is that so surprising. Hair is an umpire reviled by everybody, and banned by the ICC. If Mr. Haigh has to quote/cite the worst of the cricketing personalities to support his arguments, then it is likely his arguements are false themselves.

  • omer_admani on May 17, 2008, 0:55 GMT

    The argument that the umpires in the middle are the best people in position to make the right decision is not only generally flawed, but also borderline insane. The nub of the argument is that there are a few decisions that can't be precisely corrected with technology because of its limitations. However, the crux of the argument in favor of technology is far more relevant, because a plumb lbw not given or a clear miss given out are far more common. As far as we can ever 'know', the few decisions that are unreliable because of technological limitation still stand unreliable even if the umpire makes them with the naked eye. What justice is there to lose? The title of Autherton's book misses the point. Life is unfair, but we in our capacity 'tend' to make it fair so long as we can. That stands as our primary motivation, or there wouldn't any redistribution of wealth. It's the same point that is also missed so often by people against further use of technology.

  • ragzus on May 16, 2008, 23:49 GMT

    I wonder who in the world appreciates human error in any form of life, let alone sports. I don't agree that human error in cricket makes it more exciting. This brings up one more question: how do you know if a mistake was a genuine mistake or intentional mistake. If I'm in the crowd, rooting for my favorite team, how frustrating it'll be if a "human error" costs my fav team the match? Most of the sports in the world are embracing technology so that the real human ability is on display. Hope, the use of technology in cricket is successful!!!

  • abhi2023 on May 16, 2008, 22:09 GMT

    I totally agree with the first half and completely disagree with the second half. The argument that tennis is different from cricket is quite right. Faster racquets may have made tennis more interesting (I doubt that though) but there the contest is between racquet and racquet. Cricket's contest is between ball and bat. So if you are making bats more powerful, why not make balls heavier? If you load bat and hence batsmen, why not bowlers? Think about cricket being played by 11 batsmen and bowlers being replaced by a bowling machine. That day may not be far. So I agree that to preserve skill, bats can be powered but there has to be a ceiling. Now the argument that since "life is unfair. Why should cricket be any different?" made me laugh. Can you make any more stupid argument? Yes you can. "Life is unfair. Why should courts be any different?" "Life is unfair, Why should .... be any different?" I will leave it up to you to fill in the blanks but that the most stupid one I have seen :)

  • Peacock123 on May 16, 2008, 21:12 GMT

    Ladies and Gents, since cricket is a batsman game and the benefit of doubt goes in his favor, how many times should the TV umpire replay the video to come to a decision? THIS IS THE KEY QUESTION...BECAUSE IN THE PAST WHEN STUMP OUT AND RUN OUT DECISION has been sent to them, it seems they replay and replay and replay to come to a decision of OUT.if with replay you can;t see it once then it's NOT OUT. Many time int he past it seems the third umpire looks for an angle to give OUT. The angle of replay needs to be from what the on field umpire sees and after one replay.if it's inconclusive.decision NOT OUT. The NFL tried technology for a few seasons then did away with it. Sports are played by people and people should make the decision. Remove the People factor and you have no sports. The umpiring standards need to be raised, science finds that after 40 the eyes begin to deteriorate.and many of the umps are way over 50. Reduce the age and pay them more and you may raise the standard

  • Max1 on May 16, 2008, 20:30 GMT

    The obvious soliution to the issue of control being taken away from the umpires is to let them ask the question instead of the captains. Nobody questions the value of an umopore being able to refer run out decisions to a third umpire. Why can't the umpire do the sme with lbw decisions if he wants to verify that the ball bounced in line? Technology should be used to help the umpires do a better job. I wouldn't like to see an umpire overruled, so let the umpire himself ask the question.

  • andya0619 on May 16, 2008, 20:13 GMT

    A ridiculous misrepresentation of facts. Nobody is trying to undermine the authority of the umpire. He is still required to make a decision. A captain can only challenge it; and that too a limited number of times in an innings. This puts the onus on the captain to use his challenges wisely and will only serve to eliminate the match changing, blatant errors made by an umpire in the split second thats available to him. We can be done with think inside edges, ball pitching outside leg and other such obvious errors. Introduction of the 3rd umpire has not made the game any worse. This ludicrous article makes it sound like we are all set to get rid of umpires altogether. A typical traditionalist who might have written some uncharitable articles about the IPL and 20-20 without realizing that the game could have subtelties of it own. I am just guessing about the last comment. am i right?

  • loser989 on May 16, 2008, 19:10 GMT

    i concur with PPPK,i mean lately i hav seen alot of completely insane umpiring decisions,like shane watsons recent run out(that particular umpire made the same mistake a year b4 during the natwest series in england), and i think the ICC is actually doing the right thing and not just doddering on,and for all of u who say "oh hawk-eye isnt 100% accurate",well mate,neither are umpiring decisions,though i personally would rather want umpires to be mic`d up so they can judge edges etc better,cuz of u take away ALL there powers,then whats the point of having umpires at all

  • saintlymark on May 16, 2008, 18:38 GMT

    I completely agree with Gideon Haigh here. The bat technology has thrown the game too far in a batsman's favour. Take McCullum yesterday for instance. Swings his broad bad hard at the ball and he will get plenty of lucky edges and knows it. Exciting to watch, but in the end seems to take some of the spirit of the game away.

    And the referral system was trialled in the C and G a couple of years ago and stopped after the first year. Why can we not accept that mistakes are just natural human error? Seems liie everyone gets sport completely out of proportion to me knowadays. Why cant we just accept that its all just a game and relax a bit more! So someone was given out by mistake? So what!

  • remote2007 on May 16, 2008, 18:29 GMT

    Get over it Gideon - times change. The reality is that cricket grounds are incredibly small (boundaries way less than 2/3 of the those in baseball) and any well-built guy like Hayden/Symonds can smash sixes at will. What is wrong if there are more runs in ODI/T20 and if tests get results in 5 days - fans like it and more money comes in. Cricket needs to get over its image as a gentlemanly sport and realize it needs to be run as a business. And side note, how exactly do you plan on enforcing the bat restrictions? As for umpiring, I want correct results all the time. I dont want to wonder what if Sachin or Sangakarra hadnt been given out. Umpires still make all the decisions on the field - teams get 2 wrong challenges per game. I could care less if the umpires get humiliated. And your example is just the same as that of your marketing buddy - I can give you hundreds of human based errors that could have been prevented with technology and without delaying the game much (see NFL).

  • The_Wog on May 16, 2008, 18:23 GMT

    Gideon, player who lost his contract (eventually regained, but he was never the same): Damien Martyn after being sawn off twice in a row by Aleem Dar in the Ashes - two of the worst decisions ever seen.

    And the Hayden "not out" probably indicates that players and field umpires slightly underestimate the height of stumps, but is an argument FOR the proposal. Clearly using the 3U as a FIRST point of decision is going to produce a different result to the way we expect the game umpired. Under the ICC's proposal, Taufel would have given it and Hayden wouldn't have challenged.

    Biggest reason for referrals was a boundary through leg slip today. Coat-rack Bucknor asked SLU Taufel before signalling 4LBs and was clearly in no position to adjudicate had it been caught. (Just as he was through most of the Sydney Test). If he's still allowed to umpire, we're going to have a lot more overrules in one match than in a season of county cricket.

  • IndianMigrant on May 16, 2008, 18:13 GMT

    Agreed that there has be to be a fair contest between bat and ball. But be careful when legislating too much against the bat, if the ball start dominating the game won't be very interesting and you may lose the most important fabric of any sport i.e the fans. As for criticising third umpire referral system which is not surprising because changes have always been opposed in every facet of life and cricket is no different. First falacy in the argument is that umpires should manage the game. Umpires can manage the players behavior not the game as it is being played. Once the umpires start managing a game they start influencing and balancing their decision which would be a anathema and rob the game. umpires are supposed to call a decision as they see it and if officiating improves by involving third umpires so be it.Line decisions have improved in the game of cricket with the advent of replay system and why not take it to next level

  • Ari80 on May 16, 2008, 17:47 GMT

    'It all evens out at the end' says Mr. Haigh. To quote him, this is also one of those'old chestnuts' to which I'll say, 'Ahem - prove it'. It cannot be done, for the simple reason no one logs umpiring errors. But when has evidence come in the way of a flowery one-liner? And aye Gideon, it IS about the money. If it took you this long to figure it out, then maybe you should still be playing with your veritable belfry of ten-year old bats that sound like fingernails on a blackboard. Have you ever paused to think why you get paid for writing inane columns like these? That's because fools like me read them, and advertisers pay Cricinfo for my hits. And silly of them to do that, because cricket sells, right?

  • vpadmana on May 16, 2008, 16:09 GMT

    The trouble with historians is that they are romantics that live in the past and don't look ahead to the future. While I may be persuaded to accept his bat vs. ball argument, I cannot bring myself to accept his "human error is part of the beauty of cricket" premise. When absolutely everyone (including Symo) knew that he had nicked the ball from Ishant in the Sydney Test, everyone, that is except Bucknor, it did not do Test Cricket and its waning popularity any good. Some of these errors are so blatant that it makes the TV viewer want to puke. And if someone argues that TV umpires watching an ultra-motion replay are somehow less equipped to make the right decision than the on-field ump, then they ought to have their heads examined. In a multi-million dollar sport where one decision can make or break a youngster's career, it is imperative that we reduce the number of umpiring errors. Human drama is fine, as long as it's being acted out by the players, not the umpires.

  • Cellinis on May 16, 2008, 14:54 GMT

    I think a lot of people have missed the irony of Hawk-Eye... they say that the system is 99.9% accurate. Physics, however, is not about statistics. Newtons laws aren't about 99.9% accuracy... and the .1% failure rate means that there is something that the technology is unable to take into account. And if technology is indeed the way to go... why have umpires on teh field at all? I think that in ideal world, ICC would be looking to improve umpiring standards - giving money to the right talent. But we can comment all we like.. and you can write all you like, it isn't going to chase the workings of ICC a bit.

  • edgie on May 16, 2008, 14:13 GMT

    I must disagree with arya_underfoot's post. The current form of cricket (more towards 50-over and 20-over, and lesser to test) benefits the bastman MUCH more than the bowler. How encouraging must it be for a bowler, and SPECIALLY in a 20-over game, to know that 1)you cannot bowl a bouncer that is higher than the shoulders! And if you bowl one there, you can not bowl it again in the same over, 2)Just bowl a millimeter towards the legside, and you WILL be wided, 3)Step over the line, and you not only bowl another ball, the next ball is a freebie for the batsman. It's like saying to the bowler "Naughty bowler, you are suppose to put the ball there so that the batsman can hit it for 4/6". Where is the excitement in THAT? Might as well have a machine to do the bowling! Seriously, I get more joy out of seeing a batsman play and miss to an excellent delivery, than to see him hit a 4. Yes, seeing a 6 being hit out of the ground is exciting too, but I love seeing a cartwheeling stump!

  • bobagorof on May 16, 2008, 13:56 GMT

    I have heard the argument that technology should not be used because it is not 100% accurate (Ian Chappell, for one, has made this comment). However, the test of a system should not be whether it is infallible, but whether it is better than the one currently in place. I don't have the figures, but if technology can get (say) 90% of close decisions right (I have heard Hawk-Eye is 99%) while on-field umpires get (say) 70-80% of close decisions right, why not use the more accurate system? Lets do a decent statistical study and get evidence for a case either way. As for the referrals, the trial last year in English domestic matches showed how one can set up a trial to get the result you want. The decisions allowed to be referred did not include the technology commonly used to criticise an umpire's decision - ie Hawk-Eye, Snickometer and the like. The Third umpire could only use replays. A fairer trial would be to allow the same technology to make the decision as used to judge it later.

  • endofageofaquarius on May 16, 2008, 13:54 GMT

    Its the same old predictable traditionalist's reaction. I do not think these referrals are 'new', at least not conceptually. They are no different to referrals on run outs etc, except these will be instigated by the captain. The new process does not question the authority of the umpire because the process will be part of the game. Equally importantly, what will be the outcome of the referral? Either a confirmation that the umpire had originally made the correct decision or to rectify his mistake! Nothing wrong with that! So, will the process delay the game? Of course not, as only three are allowed. In conclusion, a good idea, which will diffuse a lot of the acrimony in the game.

  • ajayhr7 on May 16, 2008, 13:46 GMT

    Yes i completely agree with the author but i dont think there will be a team named mangalore miami vice! Coming from mangalore i think mangalore still has a long way to get an IPL team! The bats used should have a limit.Poor bowlers though, they dont get any changes in the balls used.

  • Ausfan on May 16, 2008, 12:24 GMT

    Mr Haigh seems to have a problem with Matthew Hayden.He posts a pic of Hayden with the bat that has been outlawed,without bothering to name all the other batsmen using it,then goes on to say Hayden was out 3rd ball after lunch in the super test.That is not what cricinfo commentary stated,and I quote 28.3 Harmison to Hayden, no run, good length delivery, pitched in line and straightened, Hayden offers no shot and the ball hits the pad right in front of the stumps, umpire Taufel was not sure and he goes upstairs - third umpire rules in favour of the batsman Probably bit too high - good decision in the end. http://aus.cricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/2005-06/SUPERS/SCORECARDS/AUS_ICC-XI_SUPERS_T_14-19OCT2005_BBB-COMMS.html Very disappointing writing.

  • Perdy_M on May 16, 2008, 11:53 GMT

    The Referral system of 3 referrals per innings to a third umpire is Awesome. Why not make use of technology to get the best & most accurate results to make right decisions.I don't think it will reduce the power & stature of the on field umpires, as they still hold the key, but they are only using technology to do their job better.

    Moreover ICC's decision to limit the power of cricket bats, is quite a good move. End of the day, one doesn't want to see the game loaded too much in favour of batters, see the weight & width of bats these days, but the cricket ball is much the same. All in alla great plan of action

    Cheers

    Perdy Mohindru New Zealand

  • AsherCA on May 16, 2008, 11:25 GMT

    The real problem with Cricket all this time is it wants people to treat fallible, human umpires as gods. The problem with God is he is not allowed to err. What happens in a real world is - when Bowden gets 4 wrong across 5 days (as he did a Bangalore) & all 4 benefit the same Australia against India, Benson & Bucknor get a dozen wrong over 5 days, again all benefitting the same Australia against India, Indians are left questioning the integrity of the decision makers. ICC now has to decide between continuing the old practice where their own integrity would be suspect if another umpire erred against India & using the same technology to eliminate the scope of error. I think ICC have got that one partly right. I would not put a limit of 3 referrals, what I would do is put a penalty for every failed challenge. Regarding the bats, I could not agree more. However, how come MCC is silent on usage of squash balls ?

  • NumberXI on May 16, 2008, 10:39 GMT

    Gideon Haigh uses the word "luddite" and then proceeds to show exactly why that term fits this article perfectly, especially where it concerns umpiring referrals. It sounds romantic to say that the fallibility of the umpires is part of the charm of cricket. But that is a specious argument because if you look at third umpire referrals for stumpings and run outs and catches, it hasn't made the game any worse. Besides, for a lot of the guys playing the game, cricket is a career as much as banking is for a banker, programming is for a computer specialist etc. In such a case, it cannot be too wrong to allow the usage of referrals.

    I think there is no justification for the kind of umpiring incompetence that was on display in the Sydney test between India and Australia. And if referrals can help do away with it, then so be it. Neutral umpires were the first step - maybe referrals are the next logical one.

  • Worcester_Murph on May 16, 2008, 10:27 GMT

    I agree totally with both aspects of this article. The arguement about maintaining balance between bat and ball is a given. Umpiring referrals are much more emotive. Mr Haigh raises an important point - most players don't feel strongly about referring close decisions, they would rather just get a decision from the on-field umpire and carry on with the game. During the trials in last year's 1-day tournament in England not one decision was overturned by the 3rd umpire all season and most players were openly sceptical about its worth to the game! Personally, I think that proves that this is a none-issue for those playing the game. It is only the TV and printed media that get worked up about it - and the ICC feel they must act in order to prove their worth to the game!

  • Tripitaka-san on May 16, 2008, 10:20 GMT

    I agree with this article. The game is becoming a batsmen dominated game and the atrociousness of the ICC has shown lack of long term concern for the game. They seem to be content with Americanising the game. Falling to the pressure of public will not solve the game in most cases. As a player, I believe that the game is being controlled by the players too much. Umpires have the final decision, and no one should have the ability to influence his decision. He is the judge in the field. You can just see the incident involving Sourav Ganguly and Graeme Smith. I feel that umpires have enough probability to make a good decision. Some umpires however do make mistakes, that's life, but as Kaspa said, "It all evens out in the end". The game needs to be more simple. Cricket is, I fear, falling into a pit through dismal organisation and control.

  • ab1968 on May 16, 2008, 9:48 GMT

    2 points to square: (i)the RIGHT decision,(ii) umpire's authority

    So, the umpire makes an instant decision and the batsman HAS to follow. The 3rd umpire looks at EVERY decision but is able to overrule if - and only if - there is clear and absolute doubt. Typically: ball pitching outside leg stump for lbw, big inside edge onto pad for lbw, ball brushing thigh pad for caught behind on leg side, bat to shortleg's shin, ground and then pop up for a catch.

    For the fielding side, again, umpire takes an instant decision and the fielding team has three referrals. Once more, the 3rd umpire can only over-rule if there is clear and absolute doubt. Typically, caught behind and some lbws.

    The onus is on over-ruling. The really poor decisions will be found out - as they should - and the best umpires will have statistics to back up that they are the best.

    The third umpire would have to be neutral but out in the field could have one domestic - increasing experience and the pool.

  • yakka on May 16, 2008, 9:03 GMT

    Good article. Referrals just mean that different mistakes will be made, and the umpires will be judged by commentators and spectators even more harshly than now.

  • arya_underfoot on May 16, 2008, 9:02 GMT

    the logical solution to the dilemma created by empowering batsmen with more powerful bats, smaller boundaries and restrictions on the type of deliveries bowlers can bowl is quite simply to empower bowlers as well. allow ball tampering for starters- the fielding team should be allowed to apply wax/petroleum jelly to polish one side of the ball and gouge the other to aid swing, and to damage the seam to get unpredictable bounce. the grass on outfields should have a minimum thickness to make outfields slower. the depth of the crease could be reduced to allow a greater chance of stumpings and runouts. i havent played competitive cricket for many years now but i'm sure the bowlers out there could come up with more ways in which to empower bowlers and even up the contest between bat and ball...

    btw the quality of tennis nowadays is farcical since the demise of wooden racquets. tennis is now a sport for brutes. the skill and subtlety of the greats will never be seen again.....

  • scragend on May 16, 2008, 8:45 GMT

    "At some stage in the future, millions of dollars might ride on the lbw decision given against the star batsman of the Mangalore Miami Vices, where the ball might have pitched an inch or two outside off stump."

    Well, assuming it hit him in line and was going on to hit the stumps, it would be right to give it out then! The ball is allowed to pitch either in line or outside off (and has been for a good number of years now), the only place it can't pitch for LBW is outside leg.

    Excellent article though.

  • MichaelG on May 16, 2008, 8:00 GMT

    I mostly agree with this article; the bats should also fit through a loop of twine of a given circumference. Some of these bats have edges like the face on the front. Square leg ump should rule on the height of lbw decisions, and lines painted on the pitch on the leg stump. Rules are there to prevent as many poor decisions as possible. Once you give the umpire the right low tech tools, then maybe give them the high tech ones.

  • Manuu on May 16, 2008, 7:23 GMT

    I donot see any harm in trialling this technique. We should get rid of the 'Computers will one day control human beings' mentality. I think it is very much possible to utilise technology for the benefit of the game without compromising the beauty too much. All decisions should not be left to the umpires on field. Close decisions may still be a problem but there are clear benefits to be gained on the other ones. Front foot no ball should definitely be passed on to the tv umpires so the onfield ones can concentrate better on the more important events. As far as improvement in bats is concerned, the balance between ball and bat must be maintained however that could be achieved by giving some much needed advantage to the bowlers rather than controlling the power or quality of the bat. Make boundaries bigger, reduce fielding restrictions, relax bouncer rules. Let the sixes get bigger but make sure they dont become any more frequent than they are already.

  • Fauzer on May 16, 2008, 7:15 GMT

    i agree with the first part, ie. ensuring the contest between bat and ball remains fair.

    as for the umpiring referral, well, i don't agree with gideon. as an ardent sri lankan supporter, i feel very very agrieved when getting a bad decision against us, nor do i feel completely satisfied when we win a game assisted by bad decisions in our favour.

    umpires are there to umpire, they are not part of the game, in the sense, a batsman playging and missing is not the same as an umpire missing an edge.

    life will never be totally fair as will umpiring in cricket not be, that doesn't mean that we use that as an argument against trying to make both of them fairer.

    you may fine tune the actual method of referral until it works, but a recourse for a team that it knows has been hard done by a bad umpiring decision is long overdue.

  • Warnesie on May 16, 2008, 6:44 GMT

    An excellent article Gideon. I wonder if the posters who have derided this article have 1) ever played the game and 2) ever played as a bowler?

    The game has steadily been made more and more in favour of batsman - smaller grounds, flatter, deader wickets, more powerful bats, limits on bouncers and "aggresive" bowling tactics, no "tampering" with the ball, the apparent ability to obtain a runner due to nothing more painful than a big toe blister.

    Cricket balls have not changed for over 100 years.

    In most referred decisions, there is not enough video evidence to say 100% that that batsman is out. There must be doubts there for the decision to be referred in the first place.

    After learning how to pick up a bat or ball, the next ting a young cricketer is taught is that the umpire's decision is final. Players, spectators, cricket boards and sponsors would do well to remember that. If you've ever played the game at a serious level, you would understand that also.

  • brett_bahrett on May 16, 2008, 6:43 GMT

    I think Gideon is absolutely correct. The main reason I believe that referrals should not be allowed is the amount it will slow the game down. If teams struggle as badly as they are now to fit 90 overs into a day of test match cricket, imagine how bad it will get if the game is stopped for a minute or two every couple of overs. I assume this is the reason the ICC are allowing only 3 unsuccessful challenges an innings, but I just hope it doesn't slow the game to a snails pace as is happening in rugby league currently.

  • Mahesh.R on May 16, 2008, 6:24 GMT

    It is interesting to read your views on the two suggested changes. I completely agree with your view on the first. If bats are made more powerful than balls what we are going to see will be a contest between a bat and bat. When I read it I could hear the voice of a man that cares for cricket. Cricket is a game that attaches a lot of importance to statistics. If things are allowed to go like this, there will be batsmen that average 100 runs and hit 10 test centuries per annum. Future generation cricket fans might surely disagree when we say Bradman or Sachin or Lara was a legend.

    However, I am not able to digest your second argument. You say human fallibility is part of the game. I agree but that is the fallibility of the players not that of umpires or administrators. As W G Grace is rumoured to have told an umpire when he was given out, "people come to watch me bat not your umpiring".

  • Chinchin on May 16, 2008, 6:14 GMT

    Change has always been met with resistance . So the comments by Mr. Gideon Haigh is not surprising but is certainly erroneous . If sports like tennis, Soccer, Rugby etc have experimented successfully with referalls, why can't Cricket try out the same . After all the fortunes of teams, nations and individuals depend on one individual decision and if that decision turns out to be incorrect, then the fortunes of those involved could also die a painful death not to mention the pain of the spectators, the audiences . All the romance of human error (or humann cheating) cannot make up for one bad decision .

  • ashwin_547 on May 16, 2008, 6:12 GMT

    were better off with umpires, questioning them takes off the gentleman's aspect of the game and starts making it like dull sports such as football it should be allowed! otherwise the spirit of the game will go down if say in the IPL dhoni refers for ganguly's wicket (lbw or somethign) thats not spirit of cricket

  • KingoChennai on May 16, 2008, 4:55 GMT

    Mr.Gideon. Stop being such a victorian writer and come to reality.... so wen cricketers accept the mistakes of the two old men in the middle, they GROW in stature ? grow up.

    Its a brilliant move to empower the teams to refer the debatable umpiring decisions upstairs.. if the umpire (like a bucknor or a hair) has done something horrendous, then he should be admonished and not patronised by putting the HISTORY and the not-very-clear SPIRIT of the game, ahead. The umpires should be made MORE accountable than those old-english type ones, who expect their word to be next to GOD. Its about time the umpires are cut down to size and to remind them that the game is abt a Bat, a Ball and 22 Men instead of 24.

    For you to suggest that we not experiment and find a solution to Bad umpiring decisions and uphold the conventional system of umpiring, is deplorable and lacks foresight.

  • johnbidd on May 16, 2008, 4:53 GMT

    In rugby union, the protocols for referral of decisions to the "Television Match Official" allow the referee to ask "is there any reason why I cannot award the try" where the referee thinks a try has been scored but is not certain there hasn't been some breach.

    You may argue against allowing teams 3rd umpire referrals, but why not give the umpires a discretion to ask the 3rd umpire "is there any reason why I cannot give that out" for LBWs or catches? For LBW the 3rd umpire could check where the ball pitched, the line the batsman was struck on (line decisions where the technology is helpful), but not whether the ball is going to hit the stumps (for which the technology is not proven). For both LBW and catches - technology is helpful in seeing if the ball has been hit (thought not in deciding if it has been caught).

    And - for any dismissal - was it a no-ball?

    Seems to me that this would avoid some obviously bad decisions, and not undermine the umpire too much.

  • Aditya_mookerjee on May 16, 2008, 4:24 GMT

    I honestly believe, that bats should be made less powerful, than they currently are. But then, because you can choose bats, one can have the pleasure of watching both VVS and Tendulkar. I believe, tennis has evolved from the time of wooden rackets, but I prefer the era of wooden rackets, or even steel rackets. In reference to the referrals to the third umpire, I believe, that it is possible that a batsman will not know whether he has nicked the delivery, even if he does, if his presence of mind is suitable enough. I look with nostalgia when I look back at the series which Mr Kapil Dev won from David Gower back in the '80's. Both the gentlemen are gentlemen in every sense, and I loved the spirit in which I perceived the game was played.

  • Homer2007 on May 16, 2008, 4:16 GMT

    The problem is not technology. The problem is the selective use of technology that has made umpires today look just a bit better than coat hangers.

    We would not have known if the Kasper call was erroneous or not but for technology and the continuous play and replays and super slo mo's of the dismissal over and over again.Ditto Sangakarra.

    An umpire is made to look like a fool when it comes to LBW decisions because immediately following the call, there are umpteen replays and Hawk eye shots showing where the ball pitched and how high it was hitting etc.

    If technology is a problem, then no one (broadcasters, commentators, umpires,tv viewers ) should be privy to it.Otherwise,everyone should have access to the same tools with the umpires the final arbiters.

    Either ways, the second guessing can be minimized, if not altogether eliminated.

    Why have replays when umpires have to make judgments in real time? And if there are replays, why cant the umpires make their decisions based on those.

  • Nick1978ishere on May 16, 2008, 4:15 GMT

    Excellent article. The reason i like cricket so much, more than other sports is largely due to the high quality cricket writers out there. Gideon you would easily be the best of the bunch. I don't think there is anything to add to the article, brilliant, totally agree with it.

  • graphic23 on May 16, 2008, 3:57 GMT

    Quite true with regards to the Hayden case in the Super Test. But I don't agree with the claim that 'cricketers are supposed to show that they can stand the test of character when they're incorrectly given out.' It is not only the case of money being involved that requires the ICC to change this system of the 'infallibility' of umpire (i.e. even if they're wrong, they're 'right') - but in its essence the cricket is played for the spectators as well.

    I hate it when Sachin Tendulkar is given out incorrectly and when Ishant Sharma didn't get Symonds' wicket despite deserving it. It is a test between bat and ball and we have to ensure that the batsman and the bowler of both teams get what they deserve. I felt extremely sad when Gilchrist was given out by Koertzen in the 4th ODI of the CB Series despite being a huge edge there - it denies the spectators of entertainment and denies the opportunity for the batsman to score runs. I don't think that LBWs should be decided by technology.

  • ShankarAnand on May 16, 2008, 3:42 GMT

    In my opinion, both the decisions, the first one from the MCC to curb the move to make bats more powerful and the second one from the ICC to allow three 'unsuccessful' decisions to be referred to the TV umpire, are good ones and are in tune with the times.

    One thing that we need to be very clear about is: Umpires should never have a greater role in the outcome of a game of cricket than the players themselves.

    Mr.Haigh argues that the referral system will not be usefyl. We have all been witness to the recent Sydney test where blatant umpiring errors cost India the test and the series. Umpiring errors made sure that stalwarts like Sachin, Kumble, Dravid and Laxman will never have a series win in Australia under their belt - something that they truly deserved this time around.

    When the ultra-traditional Wimbledon can accept electronic 'Service Umpires' and the 'Player Challenge System' based on 'Hawk-Eye', I don't see why cricket cannot do with the same to ensure a fair result.

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  • ShankarAnand on May 16, 2008, 3:42 GMT

    In my opinion, both the decisions, the first one from the MCC to curb the move to make bats more powerful and the second one from the ICC to allow three 'unsuccessful' decisions to be referred to the TV umpire, are good ones and are in tune with the times.

    One thing that we need to be very clear about is: Umpires should never have a greater role in the outcome of a game of cricket than the players themselves.

    Mr.Haigh argues that the referral system will not be usefyl. We have all been witness to the recent Sydney test where blatant umpiring errors cost India the test and the series. Umpiring errors made sure that stalwarts like Sachin, Kumble, Dravid and Laxman will never have a series win in Australia under their belt - something that they truly deserved this time around.

    When the ultra-traditional Wimbledon can accept electronic 'Service Umpires' and the 'Player Challenge System' based on 'Hawk-Eye', I don't see why cricket cannot do with the same to ensure a fair result.

  • graphic23 on May 16, 2008, 3:57 GMT

    Quite true with regards to the Hayden case in the Super Test. But I don't agree with the claim that 'cricketers are supposed to show that they can stand the test of character when they're incorrectly given out.' It is not only the case of money being involved that requires the ICC to change this system of the 'infallibility' of umpire (i.e. even if they're wrong, they're 'right') - but in its essence the cricket is played for the spectators as well.

    I hate it when Sachin Tendulkar is given out incorrectly and when Ishant Sharma didn't get Symonds' wicket despite deserving it. It is a test between bat and ball and we have to ensure that the batsman and the bowler of both teams get what they deserve. I felt extremely sad when Gilchrist was given out by Koertzen in the 4th ODI of the CB Series despite being a huge edge there - it denies the spectators of entertainment and denies the opportunity for the batsman to score runs. I don't think that LBWs should be decided by technology.

  • Nick1978ishere on May 16, 2008, 4:15 GMT

    Excellent article. The reason i like cricket so much, more than other sports is largely due to the high quality cricket writers out there. Gideon you would easily be the best of the bunch. I don't think there is anything to add to the article, brilliant, totally agree with it.

  • Homer2007 on May 16, 2008, 4:16 GMT

    The problem is not technology. The problem is the selective use of technology that has made umpires today look just a bit better than coat hangers.

    We would not have known if the Kasper call was erroneous or not but for technology and the continuous play and replays and super slo mo's of the dismissal over and over again.Ditto Sangakarra.

    An umpire is made to look like a fool when it comes to LBW decisions because immediately following the call, there are umpteen replays and Hawk eye shots showing where the ball pitched and how high it was hitting etc.

    If technology is a problem, then no one (broadcasters, commentators, umpires,tv viewers ) should be privy to it.Otherwise,everyone should have access to the same tools with the umpires the final arbiters.

    Either ways, the second guessing can be minimized, if not altogether eliminated.

    Why have replays when umpires have to make judgments in real time? And if there are replays, why cant the umpires make their decisions based on those.

  • Aditya_mookerjee on May 16, 2008, 4:24 GMT

    I honestly believe, that bats should be made less powerful, than they currently are. But then, because you can choose bats, one can have the pleasure of watching both VVS and Tendulkar. I believe, tennis has evolved from the time of wooden rackets, but I prefer the era of wooden rackets, or even steel rackets. In reference to the referrals to the third umpire, I believe, that it is possible that a batsman will not know whether he has nicked the delivery, even if he does, if his presence of mind is suitable enough. I look with nostalgia when I look back at the series which Mr Kapil Dev won from David Gower back in the '80's. Both the gentlemen are gentlemen in every sense, and I loved the spirit in which I perceived the game was played.

  • johnbidd on May 16, 2008, 4:53 GMT

    In rugby union, the protocols for referral of decisions to the "Television Match Official" allow the referee to ask "is there any reason why I cannot award the try" where the referee thinks a try has been scored but is not certain there hasn't been some breach.

    You may argue against allowing teams 3rd umpire referrals, but why not give the umpires a discretion to ask the 3rd umpire "is there any reason why I cannot give that out" for LBWs or catches? For LBW the 3rd umpire could check where the ball pitched, the line the batsman was struck on (line decisions where the technology is helpful), but not whether the ball is going to hit the stumps (for which the technology is not proven). For both LBW and catches - technology is helpful in seeing if the ball has been hit (thought not in deciding if it has been caught).

    And - for any dismissal - was it a no-ball?

    Seems to me that this would avoid some obviously bad decisions, and not undermine the umpire too much.

  • KingoChennai on May 16, 2008, 4:55 GMT

    Mr.Gideon. Stop being such a victorian writer and come to reality.... so wen cricketers accept the mistakes of the two old men in the middle, they GROW in stature ? grow up.

    Its a brilliant move to empower the teams to refer the debatable umpiring decisions upstairs.. if the umpire (like a bucknor or a hair) has done something horrendous, then he should be admonished and not patronised by putting the HISTORY and the not-very-clear SPIRIT of the game, ahead. The umpires should be made MORE accountable than those old-english type ones, who expect their word to be next to GOD. Its about time the umpires are cut down to size and to remind them that the game is abt a Bat, a Ball and 22 Men instead of 24.

    For you to suggest that we not experiment and find a solution to Bad umpiring decisions and uphold the conventional system of umpiring, is deplorable and lacks foresight.

  • ashwin_547 on May 16, 2008, 6:12 GMT

    were better off with umpires, questioning them takes off the gentleman's aspect of the game and starts making it like dull sports such as football it should be allowed! otherwise the spirit of the game will go down if say in the IPL dhoni refers for ganguly's wicket (lbw or somethign) thats not spirit of cricket

  • Chinchin on May 16, 2008, 6:14 GMT

    Change has always been met with resistance . So the comments by Mr. Gideon Haigh is not surprising but is certainly erroneous . If sports like tennis, Soccer, Rugby etc have experimented successfully with referalls, why can't Cricket try out the same . After all the fortunes of teams, nations and individuals depend on one individual decision and if that decision turns out to be incorrect, then the fortunes of those involved could also die a painful death not to mention the pain of the spectators, the audiences . All the romance of human error (or humann cheating) cannot make up for one bad decision .

  • Mahesh.R on May 16, 2008, 6:24 GMT

    It is interesting to read your views on the two suggested changes. I completely agree with your view on the first. If bats are made more powerful than balls what we are going to see will be a contest between a bat and bat. When I read it I could hear the voice of a man that cares for cricket. Cricket is a game that attaches a lot of importance to statistics. If things are allowed to go like this, there will be batsmen that average 100 runs and hit 10 test centuries per annum. Future generation cricket fans might surely disagree when we say Bradman or Sachin or Lara was a legend.

    However, I am not able to digest your second argument. You say human fallibility is part of the game. I agree but that is the fallibility of the players not that of umpires or administrators. As W G Grace is rumoured to have told an umpire when he was given out, "people come to watch me bat not your umpiring".