May 23, 2008

Of referrals and romanticism

As far as innovation goes, there is in accelerated phases of evolution as much danger as in obstinate rejection of all change
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Not only is the umpire's word no longer final, one suspects that under the ICC's new referrals system it will become increasingly preliminary © AFP

Cricket's Great Leap Forward began just over a month ago and already the world seems to have changed irrevocably - for some, entirely for the better, the stifling pall of tradition having been blown away by the cool zephyr of all-star entertainment and common-sense economics. Listen to these people, in fact, and cricket beforehand must have been almost hell on earth. "Typical traditionalist", they complain if you suggest that perhaps not every development is to be welcomed. "Hopeless romantic", they huff if you speculate that the future is not entirely bright and shiny. Strangely, this injunction against romanticism is not thought to apply when Ravi Shastri gratuitously garlands Lalit Modi as "the Moses of cricket" - nothing romantic about that, of course, just cool, dispassionate and financially disinterested analysis.

Even my esteemed colleague Peter Roebuck has been taking "these stiff collars" to task. "The trouble with traditionalists is that they present themselves as protectors of the game's values but are actually doomed romantics," he argued. "They lament the present state of affairs yet resist innovation." He has a point, as ever, with one qualification. Cricket must indeed be wary of "romanticising" that which has gone before; but cricket without "romance" would be sterile indeed, and not worth buying and selling for millions of dollars either. The idea that there has been some sort of fuddy-duddy backlash against the IPL, meanwhile, is a fantasy: on the contrary, the IPL has been received with utmost cordiality. Those who've wished have partaken, those unmoved have exercised their prerogative not to watch, and time will tell on its effects. What held up the rush to embrace Twenty20 cricket was not the dead hand of the game's jeremiahs but the conservatism of the BCCI, loath to jeopardise its 50-over money machine.

As for innovation, there is in accelerated phases of evolution as much danger as in obstinate rejection of all change. Sketching an argument last week against the ICC's decision to allow three referrals to the video booth per innings at the captain's behest was actually worth it for some of the more incontinent responses. "Stop being such a Victorian writer and come to reality." "It's the same old, predictable traditionalist's reaction." "The trouble with historians is that they are romantics that live in the past and don't look ahead to the future." Again with the T and the R words! For a few, medical attention seemed advisable: "Some of these errors are so blatant that it makes the TV viewer want to puke." And at the risk of an even more emetic response from the Cricinfo commentariat, it might be worth here a slight further elaboration, with no thought of persuading anyone, but the intent of reflecting on what an attachment to the past is good for - and what, perhaps, it is not. Argument against the ICC's recommendation only partly concerns technology in cricket. There's no doubt that use of the replay in line calls has been extremely efficacious, both in terms of justice done and skills rewarded. The dividends for a direct hit, an act of excellence, grew considerably; the potential cost of failing to judge a run correctly, a mistake, rose sharply.

The ICC's new system is of a different character. Undoubtedly it will prevent the occasional howler. But how many of these are there? And how great would the improvement really be? The usefulness of technology for caught-behinds and lbws is unclear. The Snicko involves a retrospective marriage of sound to picture, and sound is in any case not an entirely faithful indicator of contact. Hawk-Eye parades beguilingly perfect parabolae while keeping from us its margin for error. What, furthermore, is the cost? For nothing, even the relentless march of logic, is without cost.

One of cricket's most important statutes is Law 3.7: "The umpire is the sole judge of fair and unfair play." It is no longer possible to argue this in an absolute sense. At home, where vastly more people consume cricket than in person, the umpire proposes but television disposes. On the field, however, the umpire is in charge, despite the concern expressed by one commenter last week: "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." Obviously when insanity is congenital, it begins to seem like normal behaviour.

Under the ICC's proposal, that is no longer the case. The umpire's word is no longer final, and the way the game is moving, one suspects it will become increasingly preliminary. As is widely known, the referral system trialled in England last season was an abject failure. Obviously, in the great tradition of Soviet science under Josef Stalin, it is intended that the experiment be repeated until the right result is achieved.

But let us say there is a problem with umpiring standards. And let us say that an innovative solution is required. Very well, then: let us ban appealing, which has reached operatic and minatory extremes that favour not the most honest players but the most calculatedly histrionic. I mean, have you tried doing your job with 11 belligerent men shouting at you, then cursing you under their breath?

Always accepting the debate-ability of the ICC's figures of 90-plus % accuracy in decision making - which suggest that the figure would improve to 110% if they simply got shot of Rudi Koertzen - it is perhaps surprising that umpires get as much right as they do. Who can say that the chief reason for Steve Bucknor's awful gaffe involving Rahul Dravid at Sydney earlier this year was not the intimidating spontaneity of the Australian appeal? If the ball had passed Dravid's edge amid a cordon of pious mutes, what are the odds Bucknor would have given it out?

 
 
The referral system further entrenches television's dominion over the game, while appealing is part of the colour and movement that make cricket telegenic. What's the bet, in fact, that those dimensions of cricket best serving its home-viewing spectacle will be protected and nurtured in future, while those that do not will become vulnerable regardless of the potential cost?
 

Everybody knows that players go up with razor-edged conviction for anything in the same postcode as out, then assume martyred postures, staring disconsolately into the middle distance if and when they do not get their way, the purpose being to seed doubt in the umpire's mind. Thus would a ban on appealing not just improve the working conditions for umpires but also reduce the ethical wriggle room that players have arrogated to themselves.

Yes, logic demands it, hard-headed realism brooks no argument. But - hang on a moment - cricket has always had appealing. It is so exciting. It is so dramatic. It is part of the romance of the game. Damn these footling traditions! Damn these hopeless romantics standing in the way of progress!

It'll never happen, of course - fair enough too. But one suspects that the reason it won't will have nothing to do with cricket; rather will it be because of cricket's increasing thrall to television's values. The referral system further entrenches television's dominion over the game, while appealing is part of the colour and movement that make cricket telegenic. What's the bet, in fact, that those dimensions of cricket best serving its home-viewing spectacle will be protected and nurtured in future, while those that do not will become vulnerable regardless of the potential cost? This bears watching at least as much as the IPL.

The opposition being set up between imagined progressives and malign reactionaries, then, is little better than name-calling. Ideas are either mainly good or mainly bad, and the cry of "innovation" is no more compelling than the invocation of "tradition" - actually, sometimes less, when what is being replaced is flawed but essentially workable.

Nor is the opposition all it sometimes seems. Consider two views of umpiring: the view that cricket is still a game, that if the worst thing that happens to you is your favourite player being given out dubiously but in good faith by an official under extreme pressure, then yours has been a blessedly sheltered life; and the view that mistakes made by umpires are calamities of world-shaking proportions and flagrant offences to justice worth any price to prevent. Which of those is the romantic position, and which the realistic?

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • PeteB on May 25, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    I do find it amusing that Mumbai have just lodged a complaint against the 3rd umpire. It just shows that nothing is going to stop people complaining about umpires, not even referring everything to a 3rd umpire with all available technology at hand. Technology cannot replace the need for an individual to make a judgment.

  • KishoreSharma on May 24, 2008, 15:52 GMT

    Gideon,

    As always an astute article. The issue is that we are dealing with the actual challenge, which is the need to reduce the number of umpiring errors i.e.improve the quality of umpiring. As a first step, I would suggest that unpires' lives should be made easier through taking away non-core tasks that could be better performed through technology - namely counting the number of balls per over and adjudicating on no-balls (as they assess footfaults in tennis). This would enable them to focus on the operational end of the pitch (i.e. the batsman's end)and I would bet increase the chances of them getting a higher proportion of decision's correct.

    The solution may be simpler than it seems.

    Kishore Sharma

  • Jonathan_E on May 24, 2008, 13:32 GMT

    I'd say, ban appealing by anybody but the individual players involved in the dismissal. For instance, only the bowler could appeal for LBW, only the bowler and catcher could appeal for Caught, only the bowler and wicket keeper for Stumped, only the individual fielder for Run Out...

  • omer_admani on May 24, 2008, 0:56 GMT

    "On the field, however, the umpire is in charge, despite the concern expressed by one commenter last week: "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." Obviously when insanity is congenital, it begins to seem like normal behaviour." You missed my point. The emphasis was on whether the umpire is in the 'best' position to make the final decision. Anybody who thinks the naked eye in normal motion is, in percentages, more likely to make the right decision than slow-motioned replays, and a thorough use of the technology at our disposal, is simply in denial as far as I am concerned. He might as well say what I see doesn't exist either, romantic as it may sound.

  • Sriram.Dayanand on May 23, 2008, 19:38 GMT

    Brilliant Gideon. Just brilliant. And from reading many of the comments to your article here, you seem to be some kind of romantic traditionalist. Thank you for articulating so well exactly what many of us are thinking but getting drowned out by pathetic knee jerk reactions.

  • cricfreq on May 23, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    "your favourite player being given out dubiously but in good faith .. then yours has been a blessedly sheltered life". This is a good reason why technology and referrals should be promoted -- so that at the end of the day no-one questions whether the umpire acted in good faith

    Actually most players and fans routinely put bad decisions behind them as long as the umpires are competent overall.

    However if anyone says that the majority of fans think that the actions of Bucknor, Benson, or Hair, are in good faith they must be delusional or more likely trying to pull a fast one.

    Fans are actually pretty tolerant, however like most reasonable people they follow the adage "Once Is Chance, Twice is Coincidence, Third Time Is A Pattern". Increased use of technology and Referrals will keep officials honest and reinforce fan's faith.

    ICC must weed out the rotten apples, and a defense of umpires who have have a pattern of bias or incompetence such as Hair and Bucknor cannot be justified.

  • DeepCower on May 23, 2008, 14:48 GMT

    "....the view that mistakes made by umpires are calamities of world-shaking proportions and flagrant offences to justice worth any price to prevent" - The author has made even the realistic view sound romantic, almost perversely so. Forget the viewpoints. All you want is correct decisions to be made. And referrals is a small step in that direction. I don't understand how the referral system can be a "success" or a "failure" anymore than an umpire can be a success or a failure. It is instituted to provide justice. And that can only be a good thing. Though one can easily sympathize with the umpires, it is important to realize that the game is bigger than one man in the middle. Cricket is the only sport that gives the referee supreme status. We should respect them, but should also realize that they can make mistakes like anyone else, and when that happens, there should be a system that doesn't just let that pass.

  • neruda on May 23, 2008, 14:39 GMT

    Any mention of IPL in the cricinfo columns seem to bring out a rash of ugly nationalism on all sides. Gideon Haigh is a fine analyst of the game, and his central concern is not IPL bashing but to point out the malign grip of the television induced idea that technology in infallible. In fact, as Haigh shows, none of the technology employed in cricket (and I would add, any other game) is decisively better than human judgment. Just as umpires make mistakes, 'hawk-eye'/snicko etc., can only provide approximations that are frequently incorrect (anyone with experience of operating speedometer or the hawk eye can confirm this). Mr Haigh is merely pointing out the necessity of human intelligence in all use of technology.

  • ExCric on May 23, 2008, 14:22 GMT

    You debate well but are still not able to win a convert. Modi - Moses maybe not, but he definitely achieved what malcolm speed can never hope to in a hundred lifetimes. I do not understand your umpire fetish, put mainframes behind each wicket for all I care but get the decision right for lbw's and nicks and any other decision that brings the game to disrepute. Umpires are human and can be biased, so really if they are made redundant let us not treat it like the apocalypse.

  • lokhtar on May 23, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    Players careers are on the line with umpiring decisions. A new player getting a couple bad decisions will not find much comfort in the fact that 'they will even out'. And the fact is that the sample size of Test innings in a career is too small for the number to really even out - they frequently don't.

    I'm sure you saw Sangakarra being given out on 192 in Australia. It is so ridiculous that these guys have so much influence on the outcome of the game. The game isn't about the umpires - its about the players. The less we deal with umpires the better. Undermining the umpire's authority? Don't make me laugh. How much authority do the umpires have when ten million people call him an incompetent bafoon for costing their team a Test match? And plus, why should the umpire have any authority at all? The umpire is there to hold hats and keep the game running. He should have no inherent authority except the absolute minimum required to make sure the game function.

  • PeteB on May 25, 2008, 7:13 GMT

    I do find it amusing that Mumbai have just lodged a complaint against the 3rd umpire. It just shows that nothing is going to stop people complaining about umpires, not even referring everything to a 3rd umpire with all available technology at hand. Technology cannot replace the need for an individual to make a judgment.

  • KishoreSharma on May 24, 2008, 15:52 GMT

    Gideon,

    As always an astute article. The issue is that we are dealing with the actual challenge, which is the need to reduce the number of umpiring errors i.e.improve the quality of umpiring. As a first step, I would suggest that unpires' lives should be made easier through taking away non-core tasks that could be better performed through technology - namely counting the number of balls per over and adjudicating on no-balls (as they assess footfaults in tennis). This would enable them to focus on the operational end of the pitch (i.e. the batsman's end)and I would bet increase the chances of them getting a higher proportion of decision's correct.

    The solution may be simpler than it seems.

    Kishore Sharma

  • Jonathan_E on May 24, 2008, 13:32 GMT

    I'd say, ban appealing by anybody but the individual players involved in the dismissal. For instance, only the bowler could appeal for LBW, only the bowler and catcher could appeal for Caught, only the bowler and wicket keeper for Stumped, only the individual fielder for Run Out...

  • omer_admani on May 24, 2008, 0:56 GMT

    "On the field, however, the umpire is in charge, despite the concern expressed by one commenter last week: "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." Obviously when insanity is congenital, it begins to seem like normal behaviour." You missed my point. The emphasis was on whether the umpire is in the 'best' position to make the final decision. Anybody who thinks the naked eye in normal motion is, in percentages, more likely to make the right decision than slow-motioned replays, and a thorough use of the technology at our disposal, is simply in denial as far as I am concerned. He might as well say what I see doesn't exist either, romantic as it may sound.

  • Sriram.Dayanand on May 23, 2008, 19:38 GMT

    Brilliant Gideon. Just brilliant. And from reading many of the comments to your article here, you seem to be some kind of romantic traditionalist. Thank you for articulating so well exactly what many of us are thinking but getting drowned out by pathetic knee jerk reactions.

  • cricfreq on May 23, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    "your favourite player being given out dubiously but in good faith .. then yours has been a blessedly sheltered life". This is a good reason why technology and referrals should be promoted -- so that at the end of the day no-one questions whether the umpire acted in good faith

    Actually most players and fans routinely put bad decisions behind them as long as the umpires are competent overall.

    However if anyone says that the majority of fans think that the actions of Bucknor, Benson, or Hair, are in good faith they must be delusional or more likely trying to pull a fast one.

    Fans are actually pretty tolerant, however like most reasonable people they follow the adage "Once Is Chance, Twice is Coincidence, Third Time Is A Pattern". Increased use of technology and Referrals will keep officials honest and reinforce fan's faith.

    ICC must weed out the rotten apples, and a defense of umpires who have have a pattern of bias or incompetence such as Hair and Bucknor cannot be justified.

  • DeepCower on May 23, 2008, 14:48 GMT

    "....the view that mistakes made by umpires are calamities of world-shaking proportions and flagrant offences to justice worth any price to prevent" - The author has made even the realistic view sound romantic, almost perversely so. Forget the viewpoints. All you want is correct decisions to be made. And referrals is a small step in that direction. I don't understand how the referral system can be a "success" or a "failure" anymore than an umpire can be a success or a failure. It is instituted to provide justice. And that can only be a good thing. Though one can easily sympathize with the umpires, it is important to realize that the game is bigger than one man in the middle. Cricket is the only sport that gives the referee supreme status. We should respect them, but should also realize that they can make mistakes like anyone else, and when that happens, there should be a system that doesn't just let that pass.

  • neruda on May 23, 2008, 14:39 GMT

    Any mention of IPL in the cricinfo columns seem to bring out a rash of ugly nationalism on all sides. Gideon Haigh is a fine analyst of the game, and his central concern is not IPL bashing but to point out the malign grip of the television induced idea that technology in infallible. In fact, as Haigh shows, none of the technology employed in cricket (and I would add, any other game) is decisively better than human judgment. Just as umpires make mistakes, 'hawk-eye'/snicko etc., can only provide approximations that are frequently incorrect (anyone with experience of operating speedometer or the hawk eye can confirm this). Mr Haigh is merely pointing out the necessity of human intelligence in all use of technology.

  • ExCric on May 23, 2008, 14:22 GMT

    You debate well but are still not able to win a convert. Modi - Moses maybe not, but he definitely achieved what malcolm speed can never hope to in a hundred lifetimes. I do not understand your umpire fetish, put mainframes behind each wicket for all I care but get the decision right for lbw's and nicks and any other decision that brings the game to disrepute. Umpires are human and can be biased, so really if they are made redundant let us not treat it like the apocalypse.

  • lokhtar on May 23, 2008, 14:05 GMT

    Players careers are on the line with umpiring decisions. A new player getting a couple bad decisions will not find much comfort in the fact that 'they will even out'. And the fact is that the sample size of Test innings in a career is too small for the number to really even out - they frequently don't.

    I'm sure you saw Sangakarra being given out on 192 in Australia. It is so ridiculous that these guys have so much influence on the outcome of the game. The game isn't about the umpires - its about the players. The less we deal with umpires the better. Undermining the umpire's authority? Don't make me laugh. How much authority do the umpires have when ten million people call him an incompetent bafoon for costing their team a Test match? And plus, why should the umpire have any authority at all? The umpire is there to hold hats and keep the game running. He should have no inherent authority except the absolute minimum required to make sure the game function.

  • The_Wog on May 23, 2008, 12:58 GMT

    The mythical "90%+ accuracy" of the umpires' decision-making is, if I'm not very much mistaken, assessed on the basis of video replays! By definition, this means they regard the video as more reliable than the official, otherwise it could not ever discern any errors and they would report "100%."

  • Mina_Anand on May 23, 2008, 9:59 GMT

    Super ! Fantastic ! Marvelous ! Eye-catching ! Trend-setting ! The raving goes on - from abject subjects.

    No, I am not referring to the, Fairy-tale Emperor and his new clothes But to the latest, so-called King of Entertainment the newly-robed, Indian Premier League, re-fashioning cricket. And the seemingly all-out surrender of the public at large, to this new finance-style statement& garbed as cricketainment We have hard-nosed scribes going weak at the knees, at the spectacle before them... Frantic Owners unwarrantably dressing-down their captains, in the full glare of the public, elbowing into dressing-rooms, playing cloak and dagger with their teams.

    As a 'typical traditional' cricket lover, my 'fuddy-duddy' reaction to Gideon Haigh's piece is - it's brilliant. And beautifully conveys all what I have wanted to say about T-20, and the endorsement it gets from the 'moving with the times' cricket writers.

  • robheinen on May 23, 2008, 9:55 GMT

    Somewhere else I described these technical innovations as the same game of cops & robbers that governments usually play with their subjects. A new measure or law is being implemented. The law has some loopholes and the subjects find the loopholes which makes the government look for a new law to curtail the loopholes. The conclusion being, there's never going to be a perfect world.

    It looks a sign of the times that spoiled young brats can have their say whenever they want to shamelessly defend their own ambition, claiming that ambition as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help the Mammon. Technology in this case is only slightly less inconclusive than is an umpires decision. If technology is used the bottom line will no longer be 'bloody umpires' it will be 'bloody hawk eye. Always gets it wrong' the net change for the game: Zero, zilch, Nada, Nothing - except that spoiled young brats keep screaming....What a spectacle to watch!! What top-quality entertainment.

  • ShankarAnand on May 23, 2008, 8:29 GMT

    Mr.Haigh, if the game wants revenue from television, you cannot deny the technologies that come with television. You cannot stop the broadcasters from showing replays that point out the umpiring errors. We cannot embrace technology selectively. Why don't you suggest banning third umpire referrals for run-outs or grounded catches or even for deciding contentious fours and sixes? When all that can be accepted without any problem by the umpires in middle, why can't referrals be accepted? Are the umpires so egoistic? Why do you feel feeding the umpires' ego more important than getting more correct decisions which will benefit the game, the players and the audience. Why should an official's authority be considered more important than truth? There is a middle ground where you can still love traditional cricket and yet embrace the latest technologies. It will be good for you if you can find that soon.

  • AsherCA on May 23, 2008, 7:27 GMT

    I agree with all of you who say human errors even out over a period of time & should therefore be accepted without arguments. But the problem here for ICC is their umpires make so-called human errors consistently going against sub-continental teams. I have documented these human errors to Dave Richardson of ICC over a 2 / 3 year period, seen no action & umpires regularly making errors that went against India to such an extent that the integrity of umpires itself became suspect. ICC had 3 options - 1. Retain Status Quo & continue with questions on Umpire's Integrity. 2. Publish the volume & impact of errors to convince us that 1 is not the case & carry the risk that umpires who err in favour of 1 team, just make a howler against that team with a view to being considered neutral & fair. 3. Allow a referral system to eliminate the possible negative impact of human errors. I think ICC have taken the right decision.

  • koidy on May 23, 2008, 6:50 GMT

    I think that turning this fascinating debate into a oversimplified "Test lovers vs 20/20 lovers" or "India/BCCI vs Australia" debate is completely missing the point. I am Indian. I am a traditionalist/romantic/whatever. I far prefer Test cricket to T20, but think there is place for the IPL in the cricketing universe. But i still believe that any attempt at increasing the amount of right decisions in a game is well worth attempting.. and that is definitely what this is all about. It's not about marginalizing umpires, making better television or any of it. It's about trying to get more decisions right. Whatever high percentage the ICC might claim that the umpires are getting right today, there's always room for improvement isn't there? The argument that TV doesn't get everything right either simply does not hold water. It can certainly correct some wrongs, and for the rest, well we're no worse off than we are now, aren't we?

  • NumberXI on May 23, 2008, 6:41 GMT

    Posted by Brendanvio on May 23 2008, 05:43 AM GMT

    "Harsh.....and completely wrong. I don't think Haigh hates the BCCI at all, but your absolute contempt for him wouldn't be because he is Australian would it?"

    No, not at all. The original comment is very true in that Haigh invokes the BCCI, IPL, Modi and Shastri all in one breath in an article which isn't about them at all. And to that extent the comment is spot on. The Aussie part was irrelevant and uncalled for.

  • NumberXI on May 23, 2008, 6:32 GMT

    The article goes around in circles while criticizing referrals. And, like anything by Haigh, it makes sure it meets its minimum requirement of any-criticism-whatsoever-will-do of the BCCI and its love of One Day Internationals, while conveniently ignoring that until the last CB Series in Australia, there was only one country (not India) which hosted an annual "tri-series" with its absurd allocation of three, and in some cases five, finals. As for referrals, it is unfortunate that Haigh should somehow choose to put down technology which cricket has adopted well with run-outs and line calls. While having a view is fine, and Haigh is entitled to his, he sounds more like that of a prophet of doom than someone attempting to offer an opposing view point. In fact the example of Bucknor's error does not weaken the case against referrals as much as it strengthens it. And by criticizing appealing, Haigh is wrong, because an umpire is required by the laws to rule on appeals, not on his own.

  • rnarayan on May 23, 2008, 6:31 GMT

    Do you know, Mr Haigh, there is a happy medium. It is possible to appreciate the beautiful aspects of the game's traditions, and appreciate the need for change in certain areas. Ancient and Modern are not mutually exclusive. As for Ravi Shastri and some of his more sycophantic remarks, it has happened before. One only needs to read some of the things written about Lord Hawke or Plum Warner, et al, to see it is part of the game's tradition!

  • tough_cool on May 23, 2008, 6:16 GMT

    Gideon, I hope you read my comment "Who can say that the chief reason for Steve Bucknor's awful gaffe involving Rahul Dravid at Sydney earlier this year was not the intimidating spontaneity of the Australian appeal?", But the same umpire has the nerve to keep his cool when Symonds edges to Ishant sharma and the nick is heard from across the world and even after the appealing - as in your words - if not intimidatory at least it was very confident, to rule the batsmen not out. 'You only see what your eyes want to see', and you are no different. While you can attribute Dravid's dismissal to intimidatory appealing how would you rather explain the reprieve to Symonds. Would you say the Indians were non-intimidatory in their appealing and that was their fault.

  • nitesh2201 on May 23, 2008, 5:57 GMT

    Sure decisions even themselves out, but a wrong decision sometimes can cost a team a win, like the Sydney test between India and Australia (which involved MANY wrong decisions), and in other cases it might have no significant outcome on the result of a test. The argument that at some point in the future luck will favour the victim is a poor one, and it is sad that this is the justification given for poor umpiring standards.

  • Sudhey on May 23, 2008, 5:50 GMT

    I'm sorry Mr.Gideon Haigh , your suggestion is simply too radical to be a practical one, especially looking at the way ICC goes about its business by adopting a balancing path to please all and sundry !!!

  • Brendanvio on May 23, 2008, 5:43 GMT

    'Here goes one more attempt at a scathing reply to Cricinfo's favorite God The Ever enlightened Lord Gideon Haigh(what?? he is not Lord?? He behaves like one though!!). Mr.Haigh has only one main problem. He hates the IPL, he hates the BCCI so every so-called piece of work needs to have a go at them. Whether its relevant to the article in question is hardly the point...and he knows it.'

    Harsh.....and completely wrong. I don't think Haigh hates the BCCI at all, but your absolute contempt for him wouldn't be because he is Australian would it? Because you surely wouldn't be so narrow-minded would you?

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on May 23, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    Here goes one more attempt at a scathing reply to Cricinfo's favorite God The Ever enlightened Lord Gideon Haigh(what?? he is not Lord?? He behaves like one though!!).

    Mr.Haigh has only one main problem. He hates the IPL, he hates the BCCI so every so-called piece of work needs to have a go at them. Whether its relevant to the article in question is hardly the point...and he knows it.

  • Brendanvio on May 23, 2008, 5:13 GMT

    But then in defence I could refer to the Ashes in 2005, but as decisions usually go, they were reversed by several fortunate calls that went Australia's way in the 2006-2007 series.

    These decisions even themselves out over time, umpiring generally favours the home team. Anyone who says that decisions do not even out is either biased or a downright liar.

    And cheerio to Gideon, still one of Australia's finest cricket journalists.

  • Brendanvio on May 23, 2008, 4:58 GMT

    A well structured argument. There can be no doubt that 20/20 cricket is an innovation, and could provide open markets for the game in a variety of places such as the United States (Who knows, they might uncover another John Barton King). I have no qualms as long as it does not hinder test cricket.

    In regards to the technology, anyone who can support the the idea of referrals clearly cannot be thinking straight. It is merely a further reduction of an umpire's role in a match and a complete refutation of the official's authority. How can an umpire help a match when his decisions are constantly questioned? Ridiculous and demeaning.

    For those who believe it is beneficial for the game, prove it.

  • slugger1969 on May 23, 2008, 4:53 GMT

    Gideon Haigh shows that he is a cricket writer who writes articles that warrant reading. That can't be said of too many. How much longer before an appeal isn't necessary? Bowl the ball and the scoreboard (after a moment of deliberation for purposes of theater) flashes up the result of that delivery. Do that for a while and then, whoops, stop play...time for an ad break. Television rights are very important you know. I'm a traditionalist, I'm afraid. Wrong decisions have been made for decades, it's just that television has spotlighted the errors to the nth degree. Once, when a player was given out LBW it was just out and that was that. Nowadays if Hawk eye shows it to be missing leg stump by half the width of a hair, people start jumping up and down in their lounge rooms crying cheat. The characters are already going from the game as they constantly have the charge of 'bringing the game into disrepute' hanging over them should they dare to actually say what they think about anything.

  • aditya87 on May 23, 2008, 4:41 GMT

    But didn't you watch the Sydney Test?...a Test victory for India ruined by poor umpiring on days one and four. Poor umpiring has cost teams in the recent past, and I would hate to be in either position (the umpire's or the team's). This is to make everyone's job easier

  • aditya87 on May 23, 2008, 4:37 GMT

    I agree that you should ban appealing...a polite inquiry by the captain/whoever's in charge should be enough...

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  • aditya87 on May 23, 2008, 4:37 GMT

    I agree that you should ban appealing...a polite inquiry by the captain/whoever's in charge should be enough...

  • aditya87 on May 23, 2008, 4:41 GMT

    But didn't you watch the Sydney Test?...a Test victory for India ruined by poor umpiring on days one and four. Poor umpiring has cost teams in the recent past, and I would hate to be in either position (the umpire's or the team's). This is to make everyone's job easier

  • slugger1969 on May 23, 2008, 4:53 GMT

    Gideon Haigh shows that he is a cricket writer who writes articles that warrant reading. That can't be said of too many. How much longer before an appeal isn't necessary? Bowl the ball and the scoreboard (after a moment of deliberation for purposes of theater) flashes up the result of that delivery. Do that for a while and then, whoops, stop play...time for an ad break. Television rights are very important you know. I'm a traditionalist, I'm afraid. Wrong decisions have been made for decades, it's just that television has spotlighted the errors to the nth degree. Once, when a player was given out LBW it was just out and that was that. Nowadays if Hawk eye shows it to be missing leg stump by half the width of a hair, people start jumping up and down in their lounge rooms crying cheat. The characters are already going from the game as they constantly have the charge of 'bringing the game into disrepute' hanging over them should they dare to actually say what they think about anything.

  • Brendanvio on May 23, 2008, 4:58 GMT

    A well structured argument. There can be no doubt that 20/20 cricket is an innovation, and could provide open markets for the game in a variety of places such as the United States (Who knows, they might uncover another John Barton King). I have no qualms as long as it does not hinder test cricket.

    In regards to the technology, anyone who can support the the idea of referrals clearly cannot be thinking straight. It is merely a further reduction of an umpire's role in a match and a complete refutation of the official's authority. How can an umpire help a match when his decisions are constantly questioned? Ridiculous and demeaning.

    For those who believe it is beneficial for the game, prove it.

  • Brendanvio on May 23, 2008, 5:13 GMT

    But then in defence I could refer to the Ashes in 2005, but as decisions usually go, they were reversed by several fortunate calls that went Australia's way in the 2006-2007 series.

    These decisions even themselves out over time, umpiring generally favours the home team. Anyone who says that decisions do not even out is either biased or a downright liar.

    And cheerio to Gideon, still one of Australia's finest cricket journalists.

  • SachinIsTheGreatest on May 23, 2008, 5:28 GMT

    Here goes one more attempt at a scathing reply to Cricinfo's favorite God The Ever enlightened Lord Gideon Haigh(what?? he is not Lord?? He behaves like one though!!).

    Mr.Haigh has only one main problem. He hates the IPL, he hates the BCCI so every so-called piece of work needs to have a go at them. Whether its relevant to the article in question is hardly the point...and he knows it.

  • Brendanvio on May 23, 2008, 5:43 GMT

    'Here goes one more attempt at a scathing reply to Cricinfo's favorite God The Ever enlightened Lord Gideon Haigh(what?? he is not Lord?? He behaves like one though!!). Mr.Haigh has only one main problem. He hates the IPL, he hates the BCCI so every so-called piece of work needs to have a go at them. Whether its relevant to the article in question is hardly the point...and he knows it.'

    Harsh.....and completely wrong. I don't think Haigh hates the BCCI at all, but your absolute contempt for him wouldn't be because he is Australian would it? Because you surely wouldn't be so narrow-minded would you?

  • Sudhey on May 23, 2008, 5:50 GMT

    I'm sorry Mr.Gideon Haigh , your suggestion is simply too radical to be a practical one, especially looking at the way ICC goes about its business by adopting a balancing path to please all and sundry !!!

  • nitesh2201 on May 23, 2008, 5:57 GMT

    Sure decisions even themselves out, but a wrong decision sometimes can cost a team a win, like the Sydney test between India and Australia (which involved MANY wrong decisions), and in other cases it might have no significant outcome on the result of a test. The argument that at some point in the future luck will favour the victim is a poor one, and it is sad that this is the justification given for poor umpiring standards.

  • tough_cool on May 23, 2008, 6:16 GMT

    Gideon, I hope you read my comment "Who can say that the chief reason for Steve Bucknor's awful gaffe involving Rahul Dravid at Sydney earlier this year was not the intimidating spontaneity of the Australian appeal?", But the same umpire has the nerve to keep his cool when Symonds edges to Ishant sharma and the nick is heard from across the world and even after the appealing - as in your words - if not intimidatory at least it was very confident, to rule the batsmen not out. 'You only see what your eyes want to see', and you are no different. While you can attribute Dravid's dismissal to intimidatory appealing how would you rather explain the reprieve to Symonds. Would you say the Indians were non-intimidatory in their appealing and that was their fault.