Which referral system is better? February 13, 2009

ICC or Stanford?

Is the current referral system appropriate? Or is the Stanford method, where the onus is on the third umpire to verify decisions, a better alternative?

Delays caused by referrals could probably be exacerbated under the Stanford system © Getty Images

Sachin Tendulkar
India batsman
I feel there is still an element of uncertainty there. I still prefer the Hot Spot system, which identifies if there has been any contact between bat and ball or not. With respect to lbw decisions, this [referrals] is definitely not convincing enough. Obviously Hawk-Eye sometimes gives you the 22-yards view, whereas the new referrals system doesn't show you whether the ball is going to hit the stumps or not. It is a little confusing. I am not happy with it.

Dickie Bird
former umpire
I would like the decision-making left to the on-field umpires, just like it was in my era when we made the decisions. I would only use the third umpire just for the close run-outs, nothing else. The camera is not always right and this has been proved many, many, many times. Look at the referrals in the last Test between West Indies and England recently - they gave them out when they were in and in when they were out. If the umpire is respected by the players then they will have no problems, and so the umpire on the field needs to be strong. Also, it takes ages when you send a referral to the third umpire. People pay a lot of money to watch Test match cricket and this is not a proper way to treat them.

Javagal Srinath
former India fast bowler and ICC match referee
I completely agree with the reduced number of referrals. That is good. During the series between New Zealand and West Indies last year, where I was the match referee, players just used referrals because they was available to them. With two referrals, the captains will be very judicious. As for the Stanford system I am not sure if the on-field umpires will take the initiative at times to refer the decision. It is good to give the players a chance to challenge - that way the honesty of an individual can come to the fore.

Michael Holding
former West Indies fast bowler
I think you'll find that people who understand the [current] system will find no problems with it. It was intended to get rid of the obvious mistakes that replays show to be clearly wrong, but it's obvious that because it's new, some players, and even umpires, don't quite understand it. It was not formulated to try and change 50/50 decisions. If used properly, it's the best system for utilising the available technology.

An ICC spokesperson
The whole point of a trial is exactly that - to trial something. The approach used during the Stanford Super Series has been considered in the past, but several factors make it appear inferior to the current decision review system. Some of them are:
1) It might take longer than the current method.
2) It could be impractical. The third umpire would have to watch at least one replay - and there's no guarantee that will be conclusive - before indicating he felt the decision should be changed, by which time the batsman might already be halfway to the pavilion.
3) It could actually provoke dissent if players stood their ground after being given out - or bowlers stand mid-pitch after an appeal is turned down - waiting for the TV umpire to start watching replays.
4) It would diminish the authority of the on-field umpires more than the current trial, as it'd be the TV umpire who'd have the final say, not the on-field officials as now. It could see the on-field officials relegated to ball counters and clothes horses. That was what happened in the Johnnie Walker Super Series in 2005, you may recall: umpires had the power to refer to the TV official and ended up referring virtually everything.

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  • Thomas on February 15, 2009, 10:04 GMT

    Referrals are fine, but should be used WITH Hawkeye, not without. To not use hawkeye is to create ludicrious bad decisions, which is precisely why the referrals system was introduced. In the last ENG v WI test, several bad LBW decisions were made, and this decided the outcome of the test, not least Sarwan's LBW decision, where hawkeye said he was out, and he went on to hit a hundred.

  • John on February 15, 2009, 4:43 GMT

    To get Hawkeye's LBW decisions more inline with umpires,where the benefit of the doubt goes to the batsmen, surely all they have to do is reduce the dimensions of the virtual stumps. In any event replays should be used in LBW's to determine if the ball pitched outside the leg stump, impacted inline with the stumps and for inside edges. These should be checked automatically if the batsmen is given out LBW, there are just too many factors for on field umpires to consider. Surprised Sachin wouldn't want this after his hattrick of incorrect LBWs in the recent odi series against Sri Lanka.

  • Mohamed on February 15, 2009, 2:52 GMT

    I agree with Holding with one change. First I would limit each team to 2 incorrect challenges per innings. Should a decision be still ruled correct after a challenge, the team that challenged the call would lose one challenge. Now, I would not allow players on the field to request a challenge, instead I would have both teams have a coach/official in the replay booth, who would be authorized to make the challenge after seeing a quick replay (replays should be mandatory on all appeals unless the player withdraw the appeal or the batsman accepts that he's clearly out - for the clearly obvious ones). The reason I would take the player out of the process is the same as the NFL. Players always believe that they are right. Which batsman ever believed that he was ever fairly given out LBW and don't all bowlers believe that every ball that hits the pad is out LBW?

  • S on February 14, 2009, 23:05 GMT

    Holding is right. Both players and umpires have to learn how to use the system properly. Dickie Bird's complaint about lost time is silly. We would lose about 5-10 mins of play (at most) per day and I'd rather have more correct decisions than poor umpiring decisions ruining the outcome of a match. Also, it adds a bit more drama to the proceedings.

    Yes, this is not going to be perfect and even with technology (and things could be further fine-tuned with hotspots and such), there would always be some incorrect decisions. Rather than dwelling on one or two incorrect decisions, we should look at the overall effect where the number of mistakes are getting reduced.

  • amit on February 14, 2009, 15:28 GMT

    referals should not be used in LBW decisions, rest it can be used becz onfield umpires are best suited to know whether LBW or not. and against spinners it is again very difficult to judge LBW. One change can be for bat nick LBW decision and if batsman knows he has nicked it then he should appeal for refferal, else LBW is most confusing decision.

  • Rob on February 14, 2009, 10:59 GMT

    The only thing a referral system does is shift the responibility for a bad decision from the on-field umpire to an off-field umpire. The way Jerome Taylor was treated by Daryl Harper shows exactly why a referral system is superfluous; you - can - get the wrong decision anyhow, so why bother.

    Leave technology to the technicians and umpiring to the umpires. The discusion on which technology is a detail on a picture of rapidly declining moral standards. It used to be "The umpire's always right". Now it is "The umpire might be wrong". If I were an umpire I would say: "If there's a possibility that you think that my decision is wrong, then why ask me the question? Go ask all the technological aids straight away!"The last phrase also known as "Bugger off, spoilt brat!"

  • Steven on February 14, 2009, 7:09 GMT

    The referral system is geared to ensure that all decisions are correct, because we have seen umpires change the course of a game and series by blatent wrong decisions - case in point Symonds against India recently. The thing is why isnt the third umpire using ALL the technology like hot spot and snikko. If these are used then the right decisions will be made. As to who refers it doesnt matter.

  • Jake on February 14, 2009, 2:59 GMT

    I can tell you most people will be happy this system is there. They can always fine tune it but never give the umpire final authority on the field[that is asking for trouble]. Cricketers and officials should realise that because they make a living from cricket they cannot have the final say on things like this. Too many times have umpires been subjective or prejudiced to a player or team or just plain incompetent. This has a negative impact on people who get emotional about the fortunes of their team when it has been wronged. After all there is national pride at stake. The paying public know that umpires can get it wrong sometimes innocently and sometimes by design. It is good to have a system where we try to ensure every decision is beyond doubt.They should now focus on getting decisions out quckly and in future look at giving noballs to the TV umpires so on field umpires can focus and get right the LBWs.

  • Kalyanaraman on February 13, 2009, 21:27 GMT

    I think Michael Holding is right. Those who use the system well like Sri Lanka did will like it. Those who do not know how to use the system like Sachin will find it confusing. The challenge system was brought in the NFL couple of years back. The team that challenged stood to lose a timeout if the challenge was not correct. It has worked pretty well because it was the coach in the dressing room and not the players themselves who issue the challenge.

  • kiran on February 13, 2009, 15:51 GMT

    i believe the system works with obvisous mistakes and should used more in test but they do take a lot of time to refer so it less time to play for a result which make cricket boring. you need more winners and losers in the matchs.

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