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Another look at reviews

The review system needed to be tried, but there are plenty of questions still unanswered and kinks to be worked out

Sambit Bal

August 4, 2008

Comments: 58 | Text size: A | A

The jury is out: India have had more cause to feel aggrieved by the use of the review system than Sri Lanka so far © AFP

After having been in use for all of two Tests, the review system now needs a review. There is no doubt that it needed to be tried, though it would perhaps have been preferable to have trialled it during the Champions Trophy, which is an ICC-run tournament, and where all the teams would have got a taste of it. But it can be argued that one-day cricket doesn't produce the sort of dismissals that would have tested the system to its fullest; and in fact, having used it in a Test series, the advantages and disadvantages have been exposed to a greater degree. To that extent, the trial has served its purpose already.

The results have been mixed. In the first Test, Sri Lanka benefited from the review process four times - twice justly, twice wrongly. No field umpire would have given Sachin Tendulkar out to an edge behind his pads, which only the replays revealed; and Rahul Dravid was so clearly out that it was a surprise the umpire didn't spot the edge. Much-deserved justice for the bowlers on both occasions.

But Tillakaratne Dilshan benefited from lack of immediate visual evidence of a nick, which had been spotted by the field umpire in the first instance. And then, far more shockingly, Virender Sehwag was given out because of a human error from the third umpire, and alarmingly, an error from the Virtual Eye system, which is expected to produce reliable graphics. Rudi Koertzen, the third umpire in question, should have spotted the obvious deflection from the front pad onto the back one; Virtual Eye showed the impact to be in front of middle stump, but outside the crease. Sehwag was indeed hit outside the crease - on the front pad, which was in line with leg stump. The second impact was in front of middle stump, but the back foot was within the crease.

The system again invited some justifiable scepticism when it projected a ball from Ajantha Mendis that pitched on middle and hit Gautam Gambhir in line with leg stump, to be shaving leg. Of course, the umpires do not use the projection part of the system, and Gambhir was ruled not out, but the doubts only grew.

The Indians might feel hard done by, but that's merely because they have had more decisions going against them. And that's not really the point. They lost in Colombo because they failed abysmally with the bat, the ball, and in the field. The question before the administrators is whether the game is better served by the review process.

The review system exists to undo obvious wrongs, but it's clear that teams will ask for reviews simply because they have a few pending, and in some cases because bowlers always think that they have got their man

There is evidence, as acutely manifested during the morning session on the fourth day of the Galle Test, that too many reviews can get tiresome and create major interruptions in the game. There were four reviews in the session, and each lasted four to five minutes. Sourav Ganguly, on being prompted by his batting partner, won himself a reprieve, which would have seemed like justice to the Indians after Dravid was given out - rightly, as it turned out - following a demand for a review from the Sri Lankans. But Anil Kumble asked for a review when he was stone-dead leg-before, and Sri Lanka made two unsuccessful reviews on leg-before decisions.

More than 15 minutes were lost in a morning session which had been extended by half an hour to make up for the lost overs on the first day. The review system exists to undo obvious wrongs, but it's clear that teams will ask for reviews simply because they have a few pending, as was evident from the Kumble instance, and in some cases because bowlers always think that they have got their man. In the first Test, Harbhajan Singh asked for one after the ball had pitched about half a foot outside the leg stump.

In all, 24 unsuccessful reviews are allowed in a Test. (The total number of reviews can, of course, be much higher.) And in the event of all of these being reviewed, and granting three to five minutes per review, anything between 90 minutes to two hours of play can be lost. That's between 20 to 30 overs. Can Test cricket afford to slow itself down even further?

This is not to argue that the system ought to be junked. Quite obviously, it allows edges to be detected with greater certainty. In fact, the ICC ought to go a step further and allow the use of the HotSpot technology, which has looked the most foolproof so far in detecting the impact of the ball. The super-slow cameras pick up the thick edges, but as demonstrated by the Dilshan incident, they are not good enough for the thin ones. It is understandable that not all television production companies would be inclined - and they certainly cannot be forced - to use expensive technology, so it is incumbent on the ICC, as the global custodian of the game, to employ and pay for the best available technology at all international matches.

The matter is far more complicated with leg-before decisions. There is simply no technology available to remove the subjective element, and indeed, if every ball that would go on to graze a stump were to be given out, matches may well finish in two days. It is also not clear what information is exchanged between the on-field and television umpires. Does the television umpire merely communicate the information - the line of the ball, the point of impact - or does he offer an opinion? And as evident from a number of the reviews so far, despite multiple replays there remains an element of ambiguity about the final decision. If technology cannot provide an absolute answer, it is more likely to muddle the situation even further.

Sehwag became the first player to be given out when the on-field umpire's decision was overturned after review... wrongly, as it happened © AFP

The only areas where technology can help are in cases of line decisions for lbws, and edges, and it should be left at that. If it can be ascertained that a technology can provide accurate pitch mats, then it must be used uniformly. To cut the delay, on-field umpires could possibly be provided with handheld devices that allow them to view the pitch mats instantly. This will cut down the number of review appeals from the fielding side.

It also needs to be clarified whether captains are allowed to seek an explanation from the on-field umpire, as Mahela Jayawardene did before asking for the review of Dravid's lbw, and how much time they have to make up their mind. Jayawardene was within his rights to ask the umpire: if the review is being sought, it must be done with knowledge of what evidence was used in arriving at the initial decision. The Indians obviously missed a trick because Kumble consulted only his team-mates.

Of course, there is a view that cricket ought to be like baseball and football, two highly televised, multi-billion-dollar sports, that haven't bowed to the pressure of introducing technology into decision-making. But cricket made its call years ago. It is now impossible to imagine run-outs and stumpings being ruled on without a replay. And with a bit of fine-tuning and common sense, even the review system can be made to work.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by Prashant13 on (August 6, 2008, 20:42 GMT)

I fully agree with duggi4 who said that the 3rd umpire should do a referral if there is an obvious mistake and players should not be the ones to call it.And another thing is a balance needs to be found between time lost and correct decisions.Sometimes the decisions can be very hard to decide,and even the third umpire would not be fully sure of the right decision.In such cases i feel the umpire's decision should be final.This way the game moves on which is also important.

Posted by VG280 on (August 6, 2008, 5:56 GMT)

Instead of limiting to 3 incorrect reviews, how about a 10 run penalty for every incorrect review? No limit on the number of incorrect reviews, but the penalty runs add up fast! This way towards the end of an innings, batsmen and captains won't be tempted to review every decision.

Posted by calaf01 on (August 6, 2008, 1:00 GMT)

I think that the emphasis in reviews could be improved. At present when a decision is reviewed it's the third umpire who makes the final decision and overrules the on field umpires. What if the on-field umpire made his decision, and then it could be referred to the third umpire by the umpire or the teams, but the third umpire's job would be to see if there was any reason why the umpire's initial decision shouldn't stand. He could then relay to the umpire a reason (privately?), when the on-field umpire would reverse his original decision, or say there's no reason, when the on-field umpire would confirm it. If the third umpire could not give a reason because there was a doubt, that would be the same as no reason. The on field umpire would retain total authority because he would be making the decision, and obvious errors would be eliminated. This would make the third umpire's job easier, and reduce the time needed for review because he need not look at replays over and over.

Posted by kingofspain on (August 5, 2008, 20:31 GMT)

Rv770- colonial days are over- it's time to get over it and move on. You'll find your life is a lot happier as a result as well!

Posted by ab1968 on (August 5, 2008, 19:48 GMT)

the move to a slicker system is obvious:

1 - the on-field umpire takes an instant decision, the batsman goes immediately if the decision is out. The 3rd umpire over-rules only if obviously incorrect - eg inside edge, bounce of short leg shin up to wicket keeper, clearly no edge etc.

2 - fielding team is allowed to refer but again on-field decision is changed only if there is an obvious mistake - will take away all nonsense with close catches.

3 - this speeds everything up, the on-field umpire will rarely be over-ruled if he is good (thus maintaining authority) and - as a bonus - a neutral umpire can be used in the middle as decisions are checked anyway (thus growing the pool).


Posted by duggi4 on (August 5, 2008, 19:18 GMT)

firstly one must not lose sight of the fact that the benefit of the doubt must go to the matter how much technology there is, there will always be doubt and that what makes test cricket fascinating.the use of technology is making umpires less skillful in descision making. i would like to see the third umpire take the descision to refer not the fact many dismissals have been over no balls that were not called.on tv you see the slo mo of the bowler overstep before the batter hits the catch.and the oke gets given out caught.why can't the third umpire step in there and then and say not out.i think we should not allow the referral to decide the marginal but the 3rd ump should step in when there is obvious error.umpires have the worst job in the world and the respect owed to them by the players needs to be upheld.

Posted by _Oracle_ on (August 5, 2008, 15:09 GMT)

Review systems is good but like pro football there should be only 3 reviews allowed in and innings, period. Successful or not. That way captains or batsman don't use them just because they have some pending. This way you know that there can be only as many as 24 reviews in a test and no more. This would mean about an hour worth of lost play. And even if this is too much time, may be take review out for the LBW decisions. Because they aren't precise even with this review system.

All in all, I like the review system. It needs to be there to avoid another Sydney debacle. I think 30 to 60 mins a game is a good price to pay to avoid that kind of controversies. And really that is only 10 mins a day which is generally wasted by bowlers/batsman/fielders anyways. I.E. Australia hardly ever bowl their quota of 90 overs. They go close to 80 overs because they aren't forceful in the field. There should be harsher penalty for those.

Posted by aadirag on (August 5, 2008, 14:32 GMT)

I believe this review request system already has & will benefit the game tremendously.Many decisions have been overturned.Only 1 decision by the 3rd umpire has been wrong.Much better than the onfield umpires who made quite a few blunders in the 2 tests.But,there are 2 main issues.How much time do you get before you ask for a review & 2ndly,can you ask for the umpire's opinion when you'd like to make a review.Answer to the 1st qn is the time taken should be defined & to the 2nd is NO,if you doubt the umpires decision you should know why it wasn't/was out in the 1st place.Sambit Bal,it seems likes to worry.The drivel about the slowing down of test cricket is unnecessary.Both games got over within 4 days.Nothing in this universe is perfect,perfectionist attitude to life never helps.Just because technology cannot guarantee you correct decisions all the time & batsman/bowlers will get away with the benefit of doubt a few times,it doesn't become useless.

Posted by aadirag on (August 5, 2008, 14:31 GMT)

I believe this review request system already has & will benefit the game tremendously.Many decisions have been overturned.Only 1 decision by the 3rd umpire has been wrong.Much better than the onfield umpires who made quite a few blunders in the 2 tests.But,there are 2 main issues.How much time do you get before you ask for a review & 2ndly,can you ask for the umpire's opinion when you'd like to make a review.Answer to the 1st qn is the time taken should be defined & to the 2nd is NO,if you doubt the umpires decision you should know why it wasn't/was out in the 1st place.Sambit Bal,it seems likes to worry.The drivel about the slowing down of test cricket is unnecessary.Both games got over within 4 days.Nothing in this universe is perfect,perfectionist attitude to life never helps.Just because technology cannot guarantee you correct decisions all the time & batsman/bowlers will get away with the benefit of doubt a few times,it doesn't become useless.

Posted by veeranx on (August 5, 2008, 14:08 GMT)

In the NFL the review is done by the refree who makes the onfield decision. Where it helps is that the refree has his knowledge of why he decided one way and looks for evidence against it on the camera.

However in cricket there is no communication between the main umpire and the 3rd umpire and the later would blindly make the decision based on the evidence he sees.

There should be communication between the onfield and 3rd umpire. The on field umpire should ask the details on what the 3rd umpire sees and use his knowledge on what he got on the field and it should be the on field umpire who should make the decision while the 3rd umpire assist.

To make it better, give the on field umpire a small tv which he can carry in his pocket. Or like NFL, let him run to the boundry where there is a TV waiting for him and he can talk with the producers of TV show and ask for the view he wants to see before deciding.

Also, if umpire has to run back and forth the boundry, the # of reviews limit 2

Posted by NBRADEE on (August 5, 2008, 11:59 GMT)

Based on all comments given so far, I think it is fair to assume that to have what is called an Elite Panel of Umpires, they must reach levels of excellence that would be associated with such lofty heights. Cricket Australia has already decided that only THE very best can represent the Baggy green, and so too must the ICC develop a system that allows for the best umpires to be at work on a field of players who are ever increasingly remunerated. Only in this way can globalised standards be set which will allow the game to be seriously considered for its adoption in other markets (USA, China, Russia etc.) which will allow for the game to be viewed as an Olypic sport in 2020. I think this is better than having a review system, which if as suggested by some people has a 'dis'incentive of docking runs from a team (which could be the difference between silver and gold in a medal-final game!) can lead to the second removal of the sport from the highest tier of sport. TRAIN OUR UMPS NOW!!!

Posted by Dixy109 on (August 5, 2008, 11:03 GMT)

The review system is in real danger of usurping the authority of on-field umpires and this cannot possibly happen. The review system must be subservient to the on-field umpires. If we wanted 100% reliable and accurate decisions instantly why do we not just have a hawk-eye camera and a computer monitor standing in the place usually occupied by the umpires... On-field umpires also bring us so many brilliant characters such as Dickie Bird, David Shepherd, the crooked finger of Billy Bowden and the slow death of Rudi Koertzen. I believe they add much more colour and flavour to test matches with their own unique personalities. Unfortunately it seems this wonderful breed of men is in danger of vanishing altogether.

Posted by Phil. on (August 5, 2008, 8:18 GMT)

Unfortunately the alternative to review is the debacle that the England/SA series has been so far, the umpiring has been a disgrace. I'm sure England wish that they'd had review, maybe Vaughan would still be captain. Not only did they make a lot of errors but instead of ruling on low catches they referred them to the 3rd umpire in contravention of the Test Playing Conditions (the use of cameras for judging low catches is known to be unreliable). 3rd Test: Vaughan given out to a nonexistent edge, KP given out to a nonexistent edge, McKenzie caught by Strauss improperly referred, Flintoff has Kallis plumb lbw, not given, Sidebottom catch claimed off Kallis improperly referred, Smith given not out lbw to Panesar on 74, tough to give live but might well have been given out on slomo, Smith caught off gloves on 85, not given.

Posted by box_populi on (August 5, 2008, 8:12 GMT)

Here's a simple solution for saving some of the time - why not let the third umpire make the decision for the review, instead of the on-field umpire? After all, no matter what technology gets used, in the current system it becomes a game of Chinese Whispers between the 3rd umpire and the on-field umpire.

Posted by Kaushik13 on (August 5, 2008, 7:47 GMT)

The review system is a blessing in disguise for the umpires. With 24 reviews allowed per match umpires can afford to relax and they have a levarage of making 24 mistakes per match which can be either be proved/disproved by technology. With the umpiring statndards already in the downward spiral this system would further decline the On field umpiring standards. It is indeed a great idea to have a penalty for unsuccesful reviews and I would also love to see the on field umpires been rated based on the number of successful reviews which in turn would keep a watch on improving the quality of On field Umpires.

Posted by masks on (August 5, 2008, 6:30 GMT)

This is for bluedayvil, Its 3 reviews per side per innings (3 for the batting side and 3 for the fielding side ) which makes it six per innings and 24 for the match ( 4 innings ).

Posted by roykenusha on (August 5, 2008, 5:41 GMT)

I do not agree with the total comment of authors on Sehvags decision, it is true that the technology made a mistake by not noticing the first impact the front foot. But Sehvag drag his front foot back immediately after it hit his front foot. If you check carefully, the impact was on the mat. He is out.

With regard to Dilshans decisions, the technology showed day light between bat and ball when going trough very slow motion, but it must be noted that like a run out decision, these frames cannot show the path from A to Z throughout. It was not conclusive, the thrid umpire should have agreed with the on field umpire.

The usage of technology must be continued with having a few changes as sugested by the author. The line calls (impact on the mat and the pad)seem to be very accurate.

Posted by redneck on (August 5, 2008, 5:17 GMT)

i agree while test matches may be the best format to truly test this referral system the champions trophy would give every team a taste.then simply put it to vote by the national boards and go with what verdict they decide apon. rv770 what are you smoking mate? you honestly believe that non asian umpires have it in for asian teams? bucknor(the most experienced umpire around)and hair(who officiated by the book at the oval)are both still officiating in this day and age where the bcci has its way on every matter, because they are both fair umpires! but they are human just like the players they can make a mistake from time to time. why would any international umpire risk his career on being biased in a neutral test? simple answer is they wouldnt! i also find it extreamly funny that india the country of 1 billion people and the cricket power it is cant produce 1 solitary umpire of a international standard! also hair and bucknor were both apointed b4 speed was ceo! so who r u talking about??

Posted by S_Sen on (August 5, 2008, 2:55 GMT)

Reviews do take up time and they're not foolproof, but on the balance they're a good idea, because they reduce the chances of another Sydney-like situation. The time lost can easily be made up by starting earlier every morning and being less generous to batsmen with the light meter, or more radically, by doing away with the tea break.

Posted by rv770 on (August 5, 2008, 1:12 GMT)

The review system was created for obvious errors, but the real reason is to eliminate the intential support of some umpires to the non asian countries. These umpires infiltrated into the system during the former Ceo rule. Let us take SL Vs Ind series where all the three umpires are not asians. Of course, it will not be a surprise where the marginal errors go against one country but many intentional decisions can be eliminated. It will be a matter of time before many decisions will be made to improve the on field umpiring quality, and technology is the most important too to achieve it. if we loose some time during this process, that will be ok as long as justice served and at the end facts should prevail.

Posted by plumbinfront on (August 4, 2008, 23:16 GMT)

It seems there is a simple way of dealing with this. Essentially incentivize teams to request review only when they think they have a realistic shot by the following type of incremental penalty for an review that is wrong ( a ) Suppose a team requests a review and gets it wrong, they get 5 runs deducted from their score ( b ) The second time around it is 10 runs ( c ) Three or more time it is worth 20 runs each time they get it wrong

Now I just made up the numbers 5,10 and 20 runs. But the idea is to not give teams free options to waste time.

I really dont think India were unfortunate except for the Sehwag decision. If Sachin was out, it should simply not matter that the umpire initially thought he was not out.

Posted by bludayvil on (August 4, 2008, 22:00 GMT)

"24 unsuccessful reviews are allowed in a Test."

Isn't it a max. 3 unsuccessful reviews per innings * max. 4 innings = max. 12 unsuccessful reviews?

12 unsuccessful reviews * 3 to 5 minutes / review = 36 minutes to 1 hour

Is 1 hour for unsuccessful reviews really too high a price to pay to reduce faulty umpiring in the course of a test match?

Posted by SG70 on (August 4, 2008, 20:31 GMT)

I cant beleive people are finding faults with the review system considering what happened at Sydney (and that was not the only Test Match that was mauled by Bucknor). Is there such a thing as "ethics" amongst media people anymore ? If "Cricinfo" had it they would stand up and applaud ICC for taking such a commendable change.

Even in the 2 matches that its been tried there were about a dozen decisions that were over turned. Try convincing yourself that they wouldnt have affected the eventual outcome of those 2 Test matches had there not been such a system.

And if Hawkeye is not a reliable technology why did Cricinfo buy it ? (Someone Corect me if Iam wrong as I speak from memory)

Posted by king1985 on (August 4, 2008, 18:48 GMT)

I think its good to have the penalties imposed for a wrong review. Such as 3-5 penalty runs. On top of that there should be only 1 review per side per innings. This will not cost that much time. And then its upto the teams to decide where to take the review.

Posted by dhanushka125 on (August 4, 2008, 17:46 GMT)

The review system was implemented in the 1st place to to minimise the errors of the onfield umpires. When it comes to the LBW decisions the 3rd umpire can only view the path of the ball until the impact only which would not enable to get the dicision 100% accurately which leaves us back on square one.(Human errors cannot be totally eliminated). Yes i do understand that the Hawk eye is not 100% accurate for the 3rd umpire to take a decision wholly depending on it but then why use it in the 1st place. Why not let the 3rd umpire have replays from the front angle as well as the square one(which the on field umpire do not have when it comes to deciding the height)and make the decision depending on that. That would make the difficult part of a LBW decison easier by letting the 3rd umpire see the delivery again, most crucially in slow motion while also leaving the subjectivity factor as well. (After all no one will ever know what would have happened if the pad was not in the path of the ball)

Posted by Bobesy on (August 4, 2008, 16:34 GMT)

Too many reviews taken on a willy-nilly basis at the end of an innings simply because reviews are available.

A better way to ensure that teams only ask for a review to correct "howlers" is to put in a 5 run penalty for unsuccessful reviews. A penalty of 5 runs will cause teams to think "long and hard" - figuratively - before calling for a review. That will reduce the number of reviews taken (from a potential 24 per match under the current rule) to about 2 or 3 per match. Really, the review's purpose is to rectify howlers; it is not to determine that 5/8 of the ball pitched outside leg stump and therefore the batsman can't be LBW.

Posted by Rametlon on (August 4, 2008, 15:51 GMT)

I believe that technology is a must. If there were wrong decisions, they came about due to human errors. The answer is not to abandon technology but to perfect it as much as is humanly possible.

One suggestion is -

Dock 200 quids for every unsuccessful review ( captain & the one who asked for review)

Dock 100 quids of the umpire making a decision that was proved wrong after review.

Fair, right?

Posted by Satyajitdutt on (August 4, 2008, 15:44 GMT)

I have always felt that the decisions should be left to the 2 umpires on the field. I can sympathise with the Indian cricket team for all the blunders that the umpires made during the recent tour to Australia but I for one agree with Ian Chappell's assertion that we should improve the quality of the umpiring before we do anything else.

As Mr.Bal wrote, there were decisions that were wrongly given by the 3rd umpire and this demonstrates Chappell's point perfectly. If we don't improve the standard of umpiring, the 3rd umpire will make wrong decisions even with technology. And once we see that this referral system has defects, what do we do next...Replace the human umpires with robots? I just think that we're getting a little silly with tinkering the game so much with these referrals, free hits and such. The ICC should spend more time training it's umpires to make better judgements on the field than trying to wipe it's hands off controversies by using the referral system.

Posted by GlobalCricketLover on (August 4, 2008, 15:34 GMT)

I think it was ridiculous and inappropriate for Kumble to appeal after being dead plumb. He appealed 'just bcos India had some reviews left for use'. He didn't mind wasting people's time.

If we restrict the number of appeals to 1 per innings per side it will reduce the ridiculous reviews. We must remember that in the first place this system is being attempted to rule out the obvious errors - and I think it is fair enough to think that 2 reviews per inings (1 for batting side and 1 for bowling side) should give enough protection for each side. If we do this, we will see that people will think twice before asking for reviews and will not appeal unless it is a ridiculously erroneous decision (such as symonds being given not out at sydney test off Ishant). I think if we can use this system only to avoid such big mistakes it should be fine - we should live with the rest.

Posted by redcherry on (August 4, 2008, 14:36 GMT)

Cricket should take a page from the US NFL notebook. In the NFL a coach is allowed only three challenges to on-field decisions per each half of the game. Right there we can cut the number of reviews by 50%. Secondly, the team is penalised one of their three "time-outs" if their challenge fails. Cricket should also impose a penalty so that there is an element of risk involved. The penalty could be as simple as allowing the opposing team an extra review for every failed challenge. That would eliminate the issue of players requesting a review simply because they can.

Posted by HipHipHurray on (August 4, 2008, 14:27 GMT)

Baseball teams play about 160 games a season! There is no comparison between them and a test match! Having said that, baseball teams are also considering the use of technology after some homers were incorrectly denied! And finally, there is a small matter of managing the on-field umps in baseball. The ratings given by the playing teams do affect the umps in future games (unlike SG giving abysmal ratings to Bucknor match after match only to see him again standing in the next match).

Posted by inswing on (August 4, 2008, 14:13 GMT)

The projection technology can also be used. There is a margin of error in the projections, and that should be accounted for. The off stump, leg stump, and the bails, and a similar width outside them, form a "uncertainty zone". If the ball is projected to be within this zone, it is too close to call and the on-field decision cannot be overturned. If the ball is found to graze the leg stump and the decision was out, it remains out. If it was not out, it remains not out. But if an LBW was not out and the ball was found to be hitting the middle of the middle stump, it is beyond the margin or error and the decision is reversed.

The basic logic must always be followed -- clear evidence needed to overturn any decision. This ensures the decisions will almost never be worse that what they would be without the review system. Additionally, increase the penalty for unsuccessful reviews. Maybe fine the captain or the batsman 10% of the match fee for every such incidence.

Posted by Charindra on (August 4, 2008, 13:53 GMT)

I'm convinced that the system is good for cricket. The problem is not with the system but the men who work it. Can we imagine a world without computers now....? But even the most advanced computer would be useless if it is operated by a moron. Same applies here. The umpires must be asked to decide faster and the captains asked to request faster. And a decision should only be overturned where there is enough evidence to overturn it. All the people who say the system is bad for the game should have watched the Eng SA series, where so many errors were made by the umpires at crucial times.

Posted by AsherCA on (August 4, 2008, 13:52 GMT)

The below changes in review process would help -

No limit to incorrect reviews, just a penalty of 5 runs for the 1st one failure, 15 for the next 2 & 20 for each additional. If the fielding side's review fails, extra runs for the batting side. If the batting side's review fails, just deduct the runs from their kitty. The penalty will eliminate the suspect / chancy calls. Time spent / wastage that all of you are talking about will only be till the Symonds & Pontings of the world realise that they have to rely on their cricketing skills, not "umpire management" to win. Once they learn that Bucknor & Benson cannot help them win any more matches with "human errors", they will walk when they nick & withdraw / cancel appeals when they know that their Clarke's have caught the ball of the ground. The review system will at least eliminate blatant CHEATING of the kind resorted to by Ponting & Symonds at Sydney.

Posted by kripra on (August 4, 2008, 13:52 GMT)

Because I am a cricket lover, I can't let this topic go! As NBRADEE has suggested, baseball umps are better schooled and better developed than cricket umps, but they do make inconsistent calls on strikes and balls. The difference is that it does not impact the outcome of the game, as in cricket. On critical calls in baseball, bases loaded two-down called third strike for example, an ump rarely makes a bad call. Besides, a batter has several at bats in a game, so he can make up on his next try. In cricket, on the other hand there is a big difference between a set batsman and one who has just come in. A bad decision (lbw or otherwise) against a great batsman in the early stages of the innings can swing the outcome of the game dramatically. Some consistency is absolutely needed so that everyone feels the decision has a measure of fairness (a machine made the call, for example). This is why I think we should not give up on technology to aid the umpiring process in cricket.

Posted by djj05 on (August 4, 2008, 12:59 GMT)

The main drawbacks of the review system I think is that too many players, knowing that they have multiple reviews left, just ask for a review even though they think they are out themselves. This wastes time, and also dissolves the authority of the umpire.

What I would like to see is players reviewing a certain aspect of a decision, i.e. pitched outside leg, too high, inside edge for LBWs, or didn't edge, catch didn't carry etc for catches. I think this would reduce the number of pointless reviews, as it will be quite clear that the player is clutching at straws if he is! Also it will speed up the process as the review only has to be made on one aspect of the decision, and the decision will be overturned only if this review is inconclusive, which restores the authority of the umpires. This could be used by the bowling team as well. For example the umpire gives LBW not out and indicates why, and the bowling captain can challenge specific aspects of the decision, not a general review.

Posted by koi1 on (August 4, 2008, 12:56 GMT)

The whole point of the review process is to get a higher percentage of correct decisions. The system isn't perfect but this is a step in the right direction. Mandating HotSpot will help even further. No doubt that there has to be a time limit on each review.

The fringe benefits include deterring bowlers to jump up and down and scream like clowns every time the ball hits the pad or there is catch close to the pitch. And contrary to the belief that umpires will become lazy I think the umpires wouldn't want to be shown up on the field to have made an obvious incorrect decision. Cricket has become a batsman oriented game with the flat pitches, smaller grounds, better bats etc that its good if the border line decisions start going against them.

There is no review process in football and it suffers from as many controversies. And baseball has 4 umpires in a regular season game and 6 in playoffs. No American sport would survive if it had as many wrong decisions as cricket does.

Posted by NBRADEE on (August 4, 2008, 12:16 GMT)

Has anyone ever looked at how decisions are made in Major League Baseball (MLB) by the umpires there? Their decisions are spot on, though hardly ever revealed as such until the slow motion cameras begin to work. They have no review system, and only because the umpires are highly trained to perform as well as they do. To the players and fans of MLB, it is not fair to have the game drawn into disrepute based on the implications of poor umpiring. I feel that any sports administration that allow people to use a review sytem and still make errors cannot be serious about the most important stakeholder (the spectator).

Posted by Sprewell on (August 4, 2008, 12:04 GMT)

The review system is long overdue, you must be joking if you think otherwise. It has not eliminated all umpire errors, but you can already see from the two Tests how many mistakes have been corrected. The extra time taken to make correct decisions is justified by the quality of umpiring outcomes. The time factor does take a bit away from the spectators at the ground but the big money is made from TV rights and the like. And the extra few minutes to get to the right decision does not lose much for the couch spectator. Maybe the batting side should get just one review per innings, the batsman knows if he is out or not (apart from lbws). Maybe a limitless number of reviews is required but this is capped by greater fines for slow over rates plus on-field umpires can decline request because of obviously not-out decisions like 'going down leg' lbws. I agree HotSpot should be used and the third umpire is given one minute for a decision, otherwise it's not out.

Posted by kripra on (August 4, 2008, 11:03 GMT)

As an avid cricket lover and having watched a similar controversy develop and evolve to an acceptable resolution in American football, I have a few suggestions that can accelerate the learning curve for cricket. a) Limit the number of reviews (not just unsuccessful, but all reviews) to six per side per match b) If a review is unsuccessful, that is, the decision on the field was not reversed, dock the side a review. An unsuccessful review costs two review chances c) As proposed by others, no conversation with the umpire is allowed, prior to initiating a review d) Reviews to be initiated within a 10-second time limit e) If possible, as in American football, have the umpire who made the initial call go to the sideline and access the replays on a shielded screen I think these suggestions will force sides to treat a review seriously, and cut down on the time, which as Sambit points out is precious to begin with.

Posted by ManasMishra on (August 4, 2008, 11:02 GMT)

'And indeed, if every ball that would go on to graze a stump were to be given out, matches may well finish in two days' - never thought that I'll see this line of argument from a journalist using this reasoning against Hawk-Eye. Are you saying that we should rely on umpiring mistakes to take the matches beyond two days? A ball that will go onto 'graze' the stumps is indeed out, as per the laws. Why should it be given not out then? If you are afraid that matches would shorten if we follow the laws of the game, then change the laws.

Posted by RoshanF on (August 4, 2008, 10:33 GMT)

I think the issue was not with the system but the way it was applied. For example I read a comment from an Indian supporter that 'third umpire Gamini Silva acted like a true patriot' referring to the time he took to review and then finally adjudge Dravid out in the 2nd innings. I do not think Silva was biased at all - he finally did come to the right decision but took ages to decide. You cannot have that happening. In tennis, a decision from challenge to verdict, takes less than 45 seconds. At Galle, Silva wasted more than three minutes over the Dravid decision. It does not make for good watching. I think the system is a good one but decisions have to given within a time frame (not more than 60 seconds).

Posted by apyboutit on (August 4, 2008, 10:31 GMT)

Additional technological assistance (HotSpot included) should be totally available for deciding on edges and catches only (along with others existing ones like run out, hit wicket, sixes and fours). Please leave the lbws to the on-field umpires. We should accept the umpire's decision on that - unconditionally. There have been far fewer controverises due to lbws, than there have been due to catches, at least lately. Plus, the authority to make lbw decisions is the one power that dignifies (rightly so) the on-field umpire. His position at the field, his purpose, his accuracy, his silent value and part played in a game, all get meaning thanks to that one power. Otherwise, he (they both) could very well sit in the pavilion under conditioned shades.

Posted by Cricketfan11111 on (August 4, 2008, 9:59 GMT)

When on-field umpires rules an lbw decision 'not out' , it would be for the following reasons: 1) Ball missing leg stump. 2) Ball missing off stump. 3) Ball going over the bails. 4) Ball hit the bat before pad. 5) Ball/pad outside the line. If the umpire gives some kind of signal to the fielding team over the reason for the 'not out', there will be no need for the captain to consult with the umpire, as Jayawardene did, thereby saving time. I saw Benson once indicating to Kumble that the ball hit the pad too high. For edges and line decisions third umpires can be of enormous help. For predicting the ball's path after impact, the third umpire would help only when there is an obvious error - like the Murali-Ganguly lbw 'out' being overturned. When everybody gets used to the system, decision-making will be quicker. At the end of the day we all want correct decisions made. HotSpot will be a welcome addition.

Posted by mcheckley on (August 4, 2008, 9:49 GMT)

There is a very easy way to incorporate the benefits of technology without undermining the authority of the umpires or holding up the game. A mind shift must be made; umpires at the highest level no longer work in a team of two (they have always been able to consult their on-field colleague) but of three, with walkie-talkies linking them. The on-field umpire should be allowed to consult the TV umpire about anything and, similarly, the TV umpire should be allowed to intervene with gratuitous advice if he thinks his colleague has made an error or is in imminent danger of doing so. Thus is the absurd scenario of a player being allowed to question an umpire's decision removed, along with the technology deployed to remove human error in the very difficult task of making decisions with a cricket ball flying about often at 100 mph, without the benefit of a replay (and then 'held up for judgement' by commentators and spectators who do have the benefit of multiple replays)?

Posted by Haksi on (August 4, 2008, 8:22 GMT)

It would be beneficial to all of us if the details of how the review is supposed to be carried out between the on field and third umpire is spelt out. Does the on-field umpire get only answers to questions which he frames or does he also get opinions from the third umpire. At this initial phase it would have been better if only obvious things were to be reviewed such as inside edges, where the ball pitched, whether there was an obvious snick, were subject to review. This would rectify many heartbreaks which occur when the on-field umpire does occassionally get things horribly wrong.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (August 4, 2008, 7:41 GMT)

The review system is fine. With some modifications I think it will ensure that there is no bitterness about the umpire's decisions and the inescapable feeling that bias has crept in. Some minor modifications may be needed as seen from the first time the referral system was operated in the SSC Test. First, only the batsman or the bowler should have the privilege of asking for a referral. Second, it should be done within ten seconds. Third, there should not be any discussions between the bowler or the batsman with other players. This apart, the umpire on his own volition, should be allowed to ask for a referral when he deems it necessary on lbw, bat-pad and grounded catch decisions. The time lost is irrelevant if we want the game to be rid of acrimony and for it to be restored to a game synonymous with decent behaviour.

Posted by Shan--IND on (August 4, 2008, 7:34 GMT)

Sambit, I absolutely agree with your post.

In my discussions with my friends about this review system I raised these issues.

1) To cut down on human errors and potential adulterating of the Hawk-Eye/Virtual Eye by few boards, why can't the ICC develop their own technology and pass it to the production companies & amp; administrate that, so that we have a uniformity in the use of technology.

2) Twenty four unsuccessful reviews in a game is just too much. So there is definitely the need to decrease the number. Ten reviews per match per team wouldn't be bad, but then again, if the limit is not per innings but per match, will that encourage a team to use more than three in an innings especially if they know they are going to bat or bowl only once or just for small time in the last innings?

So I personally feel the number of reviews allowed should decrease but how should it be done is the question...

Posted by jamrith on (August 4, 2008, 7:22 GMT)

Far too much time was wasted in the review process. The captain or batsman should call for the review within 10 seconds and not be allowed to quiz the umpires on the basis for their decision. They should make their own educated assessments and decide whether to use up a referral. True, the Test in England had several umpiring errors but they balanced out and the better team won.

Posted by tgevans on (August 4, 2008, 7:18 GMT)

Even if the technology is perfect, it should have no role in the game. Cricket should be played with the same basic rules at every level. You're out if the umpire thinks so. Sure, the umpire can make mistakes which can dictate the outcome of a game, but that's how it ought to be with something as elemental as wood on leather on turf. Technology will only make umpires lazy.

Posted by ranga41 on (August 4, 2008, 6:10 GMT)

Are umpires required, in the present system, to explain the basis of their decisions to the fielding captains? I thought this was only an occassional show of courtesy by the umpires. Fielding captains or the batsmen should not be allowed to crossexamine umpires before asking for a review.

If Hawk-Eye is not being used fully, only the virtual mat should be used for the review and nothing beyond that, leaving the on field umpire to take the decision on the subsequent trajectory of the ball. This and the Hot Spot technology should be the only additional aids for the reviews.

Posted by karthi52 on (August 4, 2008, 6:08 GMT)

The review system is a historic event in cricket. It will make players behave better. The review system must stay, with some adjustments. I think it will improve. The ICC must be congratulated for trialling it.

Posted by guptavipulv on (August 4, 2008, 5:44 GMT)

From whatever I could see in the last two Test Matches between India and Sri Lanka, I am not 100 % convinced that the review system is the way to move forward. The basic reason that the help of technology was being sought was to reduce the scope of human error in decision making. But we have seen, particularly in the case of Sehwag dismissal in the first Test that the TV umpire made a huge error. I feel that even Rahul Dravid's dismissal was incorrect. And too much of time is wasted in each referral which slows down the game completely. I would much prefer to be in a situation where the umpires are making error without the aid of technology rather than with the help of it.

Posted by don69 on (August 4, 2008, 5:14 GMT)

I think that the experiment has been a huge success, when you remember it's the first time it's been tried. So far, blaming the umpires for mistakes has become an international sport. Now, at least the error is mostly pointed at the technology.

Also, although the standard of umpiring was good so far, the number of corrected mistakes (taking into account those corrections everyone agrees with) made for a better game. The India-Australia tests could certainly have benefited from this technology, at least in making both teams feel better about the decisions made.

I agree Hot Spot technology should be used where available. But I wouldn't make it a demand. Umpires should be given the use of any non-predictive technology available for the match. That gives them the same information base as anyone at home or in the crowd.

Posted by vswami on (August 4, 2008, 4:25 GMT)

Two test matches were played simultaneously. In which match did umpiring howlers spoil the game ? That alone should suffice to argue which way the game should progress. The India-Sri Lanka game was prevented from degenerating into a farce by technology. And maybe Vaughan wouldnt have to resign from captaincy if Smith had been given out caught, as he should have been.

Posted by identity on (August 4, 2008, 4:06 GMT)

Instead of the third umpire giving information to the on-field umpire, I would suggest that the on-field umpire be given a mobile device which receives video from the third umpire's cabin. A simple software included mobile device could provide the on-field umpire to view replays like the third umpire. The third umpire wont have to explain to on-field what happened with the delivery. On-field umpire can see it directly on the screen. This will help for the following reasons: 1) This will reduce time during reviews due to less chat between umpires. 2) It would also improve accuracy of decisions. The image formed in the mind of on-field umpire based on description of third umpire can be inaccurate. Seeing the video would give a better picture. 3) This system vests more power with on-field umpires. Third umpire can serve as the guide with whom the on-field umpire can ask more details on the video if the video on mobile device is small and unclear. The on-field umpire still has the option of taking the opinion of third umpire

Posted by abaray on (August 4, 2008, 3:57 GMT)

As far as umpiring is concerned, the three big questions are, a) how to significantly improve umpiring decisions, b) how to do it without undermining the authority of the on-field umpires and c) how to do it in a way that doesn't create a lot of stoppages in the game.

I believe I have a solution which takes care of all these issues.

Posted by aditya87 on (August 4, 2008, 3:53 GMT)

The officials need to sort out how much time you are allowed to wait before asking for a review. Also, the Virtual-Eye technology needs some tweaking, as you mentioned. The Sehwag dismissal that you talked about was clearly inaccurate. This might sound crazy, but I think Hawk-Eye that is used in England and Australia seems a lot more accurate than Virtual-Eye.

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Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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