March 29, 2009

Bugs in the machine

A look at why the umpiring referrals system is flawed
28

So much for the adage, "the umpire is always right". The referral system has put paid to that theory.

The referral system is being trialled in an attempt to ensure the correct decision is reached, but it's been shown to have more flaws than the Empire State building. The fact that the maximum number of unsuccessful referrals was reduced from three to two is an indicator of why it's better not to conduct trials at the highest level of the game. Doing it in a Test match led to an embarrassing situation in Durban.

Phillip Hughes attempted a sweep shot, took a single, and the umpire signalled a leg-bye. Graeme Smith promptly asked for an lbw referral and the replay showed Hughes had edged the ball. Consequently Hughes couldn't be out lbw and South Africa had wasted a referral because of an umpiring error, leaving Smith with only one remaining challenge and Australia no wickets down.

If Smith had stated before the series that he preferred not to play under a system being trialled at Test level, he would've been justified in refusing to bowl the next ball until the umpire-induced wasted referral had been reinstated.

Unfortunately that's just one of many problems with the referral system.

There are far too many marginal lbw decisions being challenged. The standing umpire is in the best position to decide lbw decisions, not a camera perched on high, 100 metres from the action.

Fifty-fifty decisions don't cause on-field acrimony or affect results, because everyone accepts them and gets on with the game. As New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said after first experiencing the referral system, "It should only be used to correct blatant mistakes."

Then there's the technology itself. The "mat" that's used to decide whether a ball has pitched in line with the stumps can accidentally move out of alignment and therefore should only be an entertainment tool for television, not something that decides a batsman's fate.

In the South Africa series Hot Spot was not available in the first Test because the television company didn't want to pay for the rights. They then had a change of heart and purchased Hot Spot for the final two Tests. That meant a series that was already being played under a different set of laws from the one running concurrently in the Caribbean, was suddenly being conducted under laws that changed between the first and the final two Tests. Not only does that make a mockery of Test statistics, it also devalues the game.

As good as Hot Spot is, it's not foolproof. For instance, a suspected inside edge in Durban was hidden from view by the batsman's follow-through. This just adds to the feeling of "justice for some but not for all" that the referral system creates.

There are far too many marginal lbw decisions being challenged. The standing umpire is in the best position to decide lbw decisions, not a camera perched on high, 100 metres from the action

This brings us to the matter of who is responsible for the technology used to assist umpires in making their decisions? It's cricket's job to ensure the technology is on site, and if the cost of it is to be in the television-rights package, then so be it.

If cricket is determined to have on-field decisions reversed by off-field evidence, then the third umpire must be made aware of the pitfalls in making such judgments off video. I know of two television producers with a long history in the business who believe it's more important the third umpire has a full understanding of video rather than the laws of the game.

If cricket must have a challenge system, it would be better it came from the video umpire noting a blatant error and reporting it to the arbiter on the field. This will eradicate challenges over marginal decisions and also provide a system that doesn't encourage captains and players to dispute umpire's decisions.

Another reason given for the introduction of the referral system was to relieve the pressure on the standing umpires and reduce criticism of their performance. Unfortunately what it has done is highlight the inadequacies of the less competent umpires, confirming my opinion that increased scrutiny only puts pressure on the less talented officials.

The ICC's objective is fine - trying to reach the correct decision. However, it would be better achieved by a combination of improving the umpiring standard and sensibly utilising reliable technology. By taking this approach there's more likelihood fans will at least consider that the umpire is always right.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • lunchy on March 31, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    Where else in world sport can a player challenge a standing official on a decision they have made. If this happens in rugby union or league the player is instantly sent from the field. For this reason the referral system is flawed, you should never have a game official being challenged by a player. I find it quite hypocritical that the ICC will fine a player for showing disappointment at being dismissed but on the other hand is gladly asking them to question an umpires decision. The idea of allowing the umpire to refer the decision himself if he is unsure, as is done in other sports, seems to be a far better proposal. This keeps the full control with the umpire and if they arent confident in making the right decision they can call on the 3rd umpire themselves to help come to the right decision.

  • Kirk-at-Lords on March 30, 2009, 23:02 GMT

    Ian Chappell raises a new issue regarding the pitch map. This is defintely not an "entertainment tool" -- it is a crucial part of the review system, as it well should be! I expect that video experts can assure the pitch map's accuracy, just as they will need to assure the accuracy of HotSpot and HawkEye. "Chappelli" raises another interesting matter regarding the need for new sorts of training for third umpires utilising video evidence. This seems necessary and inevitable. Thanks to TV commentators in England and Australia, we now have a clearer understanding of the problems relating to assessing whether a slip catch close to ground is taken or grassed based on long-lens video. It will be important for elite umpires who will sit in the third man's chair to be completely abreast of things like this. It adds to the challenge of proper umpire training, but perhaps this is just what is needed to raise the quality of the elite corps about which Chappell is rightly concerned.

  • JackMacl on March 30, 2009, 20:27 GMT

    I agree with one view - that of Steve Bucknor's. If the umpire thinks it is marginal, he can call for the third umpire, and the third umpire has 3 minutes to make a decision. You don't want the whole game to stop for 10 minutes because 49% pitched outside leg. And whats this about not the whole hawkeye being used? Minutes are being wasted with the third umpire deciding, is it clipping, or going over the top? Yes it may be wrong, but its got more chance of being right that the real umpires. We have to take that chance that maybe there is still a bad decision, 1/200 times. If it saves time, its worth it.

  • Radium on March 30, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    I fail to understand the perspective of some of the readers as well as Mr Chappell. Sure...we've had some errors from the referral system..but a lot of "errors" have corrected as well. To expect that technology we provide 100% results is naive. This is a work in progress and we should encourage technology to get better, by using it more. Whether Test cricket should be a testing ground or not is debatable, but surely not the use of technology itself. An interesting point comes out from Ian's example of the signal given by the onfield umpire of a legbye and SA asking for a referral. Just goes to show that the fact that the ball edged the bat was missed by the umpire as well as the SA fielders - surely Smith would not have asked for a referral if his fielders knew that the batsman had edged the ball! Technology is never perfect...but then so are human beings, if we can accept their imperfection, lets also accept technolgy's, but perhaps in combination, we can get better results?

  • shirtman on March 30, 2009, 12:46 GMT

    As an umpire, I would love to be able to refer the marginal decisions to to the TV umpire if I could. There are those that I feel are marginal and don't give, eg, that 'might' have pitched outside leg, contact 'may' have been outside off. If I had the choice, I would definitely'go upstairs'. And then there are those that I plain get wrong, inside edges missed, faintest of nicks not picked up, the dodgy bat-pad decision etc., those where the batsman or bowler have been hard done by and should have a chance to get the right decision. As umpires, we should be thinking of getting it right, and damn our ego problems with being proved wrong. Technology is not perfect, but to say, lets get them all wrong till we can be sure we can get all right is absurd. Lets work through the teething troubles, get the system right and get as many correct decisions as possible.

  • vswami on March 30, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    Whats not clear about the referral system is whether the third umpire is judging to give the benefit of doubt to the umpire or batsman/bowler. Most of the confusion comes because ICC has not given a clear mandate on this to the third umpire.

  • feeel on March 30, 2009, 11:16 GMT

    well.I have been an avid supporter of Ian cHAPPELL.I respect him a lot.His views are always the best and logical,but i am afraid Mr Ian chappell has got his foot horribly wrong this time.I fail to fathom,how can u say that referral system has brought more umpiring decisions???If marcus north edged it then it only brought about the mistake of an on field umpire...who failed to spot an edge...also its early days for the trial system so there are bound to be some flaws!!!I want to dearly tell Mr.chappell that if technology is used for 10 50/50 decisions,atleast 7 would be right...but if incompetent umpires like mr buckoner continue to umpire well past their due date they will give 7 incorrect...Proofs 1)Use the referral system right now in the sydney test and the scoreline would have been 2-1 in favour of India...what a mockery?there were 7-8 decisions against India...i remember...had referral system been there,i need not tell what wud have happened.if the referral system cud have easil

  • CharonTFm on March 30, 2009, 10:55 GMT

    The Technology has only been in use for a limited time, it has mainly been used by the people on Television and so they will know the limits of the technology. So perhaps instead of blaming the third umpires for certain decisions we should stipulate that the third umpires should be better trained in recognising the full extents of the technology they are using. Also to make the game better perhaps television broadcasters should be banned from showing slow motion replays, snicko and hotspots. Although they make for better viewing, they scrutinise the bad decisions that umpires make, but forgo all the correct decisions they do.

    Also the ICC has to ensure that more quality Umpires are used, and since the introduction of the Referral System and Technology then perhaps they should rethink the idea of using Umpires from Neutral countries at the game. Instead use the best umpires with the best correct decisions from around the World.

  • robheinen on March 30, 2009, 9:31 GMT

    To continue with the last statement in the article, the adverse effects of using technology are already visible. On-field umpire's decisions are being influenced by the use of technology. Where once the umpire was right full stop, the umpire now is right...unless he's not right. Where once umpire's decisions 'evened out' between the two teams, now we decide that 'we want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and we want it now!' Well we've seen off-field umpire's struggle with the new methods. As stated in the article, and mentioned by me much earlier on a cricket forum, technology has its flaws offering only false security. The conclusion can be that although technology MAY be an improvement on decision making in cricket matches, the drawbacks are such, that it might be best to leave it as gadgets for improved televising of cricket matches then to actually be used for decision making. The umpire's always right. That is to say, the on-field umpire.

  • naradmuni on March 30, 2009, 7:45 GMT

    I think we need to get away from this Luddite excoriation of all things technological. Nobody claims technology is fool-proof. But if it results in correcting even ONE incorrect decision, it is better than what we currently have. The problem with players is they see the 'romance' of the vagaries of on-field umpiring cock-ups. Unfortunately, the paying public suffer because of blatant errors that are natural when you have only eyesight to refer to. I think one needs to accept that errors will be made with technology as well but if we can use existing it to correct ANY on-field errors, we're better off. Which brings us to the real problem - it's not the technology that is the issue, it's the stupid rules that the ICC insists on placing on umpires. It shouldn't matter WHO see's the error - if there IS an error, it must be corrected immediately. And this includes correcting the number of batsmen given out on no-balls. The only time this is checked is when there is a referral!

  • lunchy on March 31, 2009, 10:15 GMT

    Where else in world sport can a player challenge a standing official on a decision they have made. If this happens in rugby union or league the player is instantly sent from the field. For this reason the referral system is flawed, you should never have a game official being challenged by a player. I find it quite hypocritical that the ICC will fine a player for showing disappointment at being dismissed but on the other hand is gladly asking them to question an umpires decision. The idea of allowing the umpire to refer the decision himself if he is unsure, as is done in other sports, seems to be a far better proposal. This keeps the full control with the umpire and if they arent confident in making the right decision they can call on the 3rd umpire themselves to help come to the right decision.

  • Kirk-at-Lords on March 30, 2009, 23:02 GMT

    Ian Chappell raises a new issue regarding the pitch map. This is defintely not an "entertainment tool" -- it is a crucial part of the review system, as it well should be! I expect that video experts can assure the pitch map's accuracy, just as they will need to assure the accuracy of HotSpot and HawkEye. "Chappelli" raises another interesting matter regarding the need for new sorts of training for third umpires utilising video evidence. This seems necessary and inevitable. Thanks to TV commentators in England and Australia, we now have a clearer understanding of the problems relating to assessing whether a slip catch close to ground is taken or grassed based on long-lens video. It will be important for elite umpires who will sit in the third man's chair to be completely abreast of things like this. It adds to the challenge of proper umpire training, but perhaps this is just what is needed to raise the quality of the elite corps about which Chappell is rightly concerned.

  • JackMacl on March 30, 2009, 20:27 GMT

    I agree with one view - that of Steve Bucknor's. If the umpire thinks it is marginal, he can call for the third umpire, and the third umpire has 3 minutes to make a decision. You don't want the whole game to stop for 10 minutes because 49% pitched outside leg. And whats this about not the whole hawkeye being used? Minutes are being wasted with the third umpire deciding, is it clipping, or going over the top? Yes it may be wrong, but its got more chance of being right that the real umpires. We have to take that chance that maybe there is still a bad decision, 1/200 times. If it saves time, its worth it.

  • Radium on March 30, 2009, 18:21 GMT

    I fail to understand the perspective of some of the readers as well as Mr Chappell. Sure...we've had some errors from the referral system..but a lot of "errors" have corrected as well. To expect that technology we provide 100% results is naive. This is a work in progress and we should encourage technology to get better, by using it more. Whether Test cricket should be a testing ground or not is debatable, but surely not the use of technology itself. An interesting point comes out from Ian's example of the signal given by the onfield umpire of a legbye and SA asking for a referral. Just goes to show that the fact that the ball edged the bat was missed by the umpire as well as the SA fielders - surely Smith would not have asked for a referral if his fielders knew that the batsman had edged the ball! Technology is never perfect...but then so are human beings, if we can accept their imperfection, lets also accept technolgy's, but perhaps in combination, we can get better results?

  • shirtman on March 30, 2009, 12:46 GMT

    As an umpire, I would love to be able to refer the marginal decisions to to the TV umpire if I could. There are those that I feel are marginal and don't give, eg, that 'might' have pitched outside leg, contact 'may' have been outside off. If I had the choice, I would definitely'go upstairs'. And then there are those that I plain get wrong, inside edges missed, faintest of nicks not picked up, the dodgy bat-pad decision etc., those where the batsman or bowler have been hard done by and should have a chance to get the right decision. As umpires, we should be thinking of getting it right, and damn our ego problems with being proved wrong. Technology is not perfect, but to say, lets get them all wrong till we can be sure we can get all right is absurd. Lets work through the teething troubles, get the system right and get as many correct decisions as possible.

  • vswami on March 30, 2009, 11:47 GMT

    Whats not clear about the referral system is whether the third umpire is judging to give the benefit of doubt to the umpire or batsman/bowler. Most of the confusion comes because ICC has not given a clear mandate on this to the third umpire.

  • feeel on March 30, 2009, 11:16 GMT

    well.I have been an avid supporter of Ian cHAPPELL.I respect him a lot.His views are always the best and logical,but i am afraid Mr Ian chappell has got his foot horribly wrong this time.I fail to fathom,how can u say that referral system has brought more umpiring decisions???If marcus north edged it then it only brought about the mistake of an on field umpire...who failed to spot an edge...also its early days for the trial system so there are bound to be some flaws!!!I want to dearly tell Mr.chappell that if technology is used for 10 50/50 decisions,atleast 7 would be right...but if incompetent umpires like mr buckoner continue to umpire well past their due date they will give 7 incorrect...Proofs 1)Use the referral system right now in the sydney test and the scoreline would have been 2-1 in favour of India...what a mockery?there were 7-8 decisions against India...i remember...had referral system been there,i need not tell what wud have happened.if the referral system cud have easil

  • CharonTFm on March 30, 2009, 10:55 GMT

    The Technology has only been in use for a limited time, it has mainly been used by the people on Television and so they will know the limits of the technology. So perhaps instead of blaming the third umpires for certain decisions we should stipulate that the third umpires should be better trained in recognising the full extents of the technology they are using. Also to make the game better perhaps television broadcasters should be banned from showing slow motion replays, snicko and hotspots. Although they make for better viewing, they scrutinise the bad decisions that umpires make, but forgo all the correct decisions they do.

    Also the ICC has to ensure that more quality Umpires are used, and since the introduction of the Referral System and Technology then perhaps they should rethink the idea of using Umpires from Neutral countries at the game. Instead use the best umpires with the best correct decisions from around the World.

  • robheinen on March 30, 2009, 9:31 GMT

    To continue with the last statement in the article, the adverse effects of using technology are already visible. On-field umpire's decisions are being influenced by the use of technology. Where once the umpire was right full stop, the umpire now is right...unless he's not right. Where once umpire's decisions 'evened out' between the two teams, now we decide that 'we want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and we want it now!' Well we've seen off-field umpire's struggle with the new methods. As stated in the article, and mentioned by me much earlier on a cricket forum, technology has its flaws offering only false security. The conclusion can be that although technology MAY be an improvement on decision making in cricket matches, the drawbacks are such, that it might be best to leave it as gadgets for improved televising of cricket matches then to actually be used for decision making. The umpire's always right. That is to say, the on-field umpire.

  • naradmuni on March 30, 2009, 7:45 GMT

    I think we need to get away from this Luddite excoriation of all things technological. Nobody claims technology is fool-proof. But if it results in correcting even ONE incorrect decision, it is better than what we currently have. The problem with players is they see the 'romance' of the vagaries of on-field umpiring cock-ups. Unfortunately, the paying public suffer because of blatant errors that are natural when you have only eyesight to refer to. I think one needs to accept that errors will be made with technology as well but if we can use existing it to correct ANY on-field errors, we're better off. Which brings us to the real problem - it's not the technology that is the issue, it's the stupid rules that the ICC insists on placing on umpires. It shouldn't matter WHO see's the error - if there IS an error, it must be corrected immediately. And this includes correcting the number of batsmen given out on no-balls. The only time this is checked is when there is a referral!

  • __PK on March 30, 2009, 2:46 GMT

    Bivu, players MUST behave themselves regardless of the decisions that go against them. If you're saying Bucknor's decisions were the catalyst for the acrimony in Sydney, then you're blaming the Indian cricket team. And if wrong decisions go 50/50, the odds of 15 wrong decisions being split 11/4 (or more lopsidedly) is nearly 12%. That means several tests a year will end up this way and we're going to be excusing a lot more bad behaviour.

  • amish.joshi on March 29, 2009, 23:54 GMT

    I am in strong favour of the referral system because it reduces the errors made by on-field umpires. It is beyond my understanding how a third umpire could mess up when using replays. If these are the "best umpires" the ICC has to offer than I'm afraid the future of umpiring in cricket doesn't look good. The ICC, in that regard, can perhaps employ young umpires with adeqaute training rather than these re(tired) cricketers. Seriously it takes only a few replays to fully understand the referral system. I am sure there are people out there who get furious when umpires make simple errors at times and yet don't get punished. But when a batsman stands his ground for more than a few seconds after being dismissed fines are imposed on him, similarly bowlers get penalised for excessive appealing. What about umpires, in particular third who sits all day in AC rooms and are needed less than 10 times a day still make simple errors. They should get penalised as well!!!

  • Vince01 on March 29, 2009, 23:46 GMT

    How does playing under different referral systems make a mockery of statistics? That would only be valid if the technology favours batsmen more than bowlers (or the other way around) or decisions are made with the assistance of technology that would NEVER be made without it, regardless of the competence of the umpire. The batting side and the bowling side can both refer and decisions are overturned for batsmen as well as bowlers. The decisions that I have seen made with the assistance of the technology seems to me to be well within the capability of many umnpires on a given day. As such, I don't think different levels of technology affects statistics.

  • Chris_Howard on March 29, 2009, 22:38 GMT

    bivu, the only reason you know there was 11 to 4 was technology. Take away technology and there may have only been two or three you were sure about, if that. So there's the real problem. It's the technology that created the controversy. And now we want to use it to fix it's own problem. Why not just get rid of the technology altogether since it's the problem? Watch any Tests on TV from before the use of technology - it's a real eye opener, and a pleasure as nobody is getting hung up over suspect decisions.

  • Sharath.Komarraju on March 29, 2009, 21:46 GMT

    For all those people who advocate that referrals should be given to the field umpire, what if a given umpire is SURE of his wrong decision? For instance, he might be sure that the ball pitched in line, or that he heard leather on wood, or that the height was okay, or whatever. Will he still ask for a referral?

    One of the good things that have come out of the referral system is that it has taken some power away from the umpires. Sorry, they've been all-powerful and above reproach for far too long. We want to see competence at the highest level of the game - no, not perfection, competence. I don't think giving them referrals is going to achieve that.

    As for allowing third umpires to proactively overturn on-field decisions, it's an interesting idea, but that would make the third umpire all-powerful, and who knows where that might go?

    I am fairly happy with the system as it is now. Yes, there will be situations when it doesn't work as intended, but it works most of the time.

  • inswing on March 29, 2009, 20:09 GMT

    The technology is fine and very useful. Third umpires need a bit more training, that's all. The technology is not foolproof, but it is not meant or claimed to be. The only question is, can it reduce the number of errors made on the field? The answer is clearly yes. The fact that there will still be some decisions that are wrong means nothing. It is silly to say that the camera is high and 100 meters away, so not in a position to make judgments. There is something called zoom, that allows you to be six feet in front of the batsman instead of 22 yards like the umpire. Plus it has the amazing ability to replay - slowly if needed - events exactly like they happened, without bias. Not something an umpire can do. Marginal calls are not a problem. Umpire should always give a decision first on his own. Then, don't overturn it unless there is clear evidence to the contrary. It is not that hard. Players will learn not to waste referrals in time. It is high time to let technology help.

  • saikatb on March 29, 2009, 18:31 GMT

    In the spirit of what Daniel Vettori said - the system should work to eliminate the egregious errors. This is where that cricket officials have got the semantics wrong - it should not be a referral or review of the decisions; it should be a challenge. A decision made on the field can be challenged, much like the higher-court appeals of lower-court decision. If there is an incontrovertible evidence that proves the umpiring decision is wrong, only then the decisions is overturned, otherwise the decision stands. For example, if an LBW decision is called OUT, the batsman can challenge the decision - the ball pitched outside the leg the stumps, or the ball impacted outside the stump, or the hotspot can show an impact on the bat before pad, only then the decision is overturned, otherwise not. If the LBW deision is called NOT OUT, there can be no challenge; second guessing the onfield umpire is not allowed. Similarly, one can define the adjucating powers during a challenge for catches etc.

  • Charindra on March 29, 2009, 14:01 GMT

    Every thing that has gone wrong with the referral system is due to the incompetence of the relevant umpire. The system is simple and straightforward. Unless you can be sure the original decision is wrong, DO NOT overturn it. Simple as that! How a reasonable man can mess up with such uncomplicated instructions is beyond me, especially when most of us at home, without any sort of background in umpiring can reach the correct decision in our minds based on the replays.

  • spinkingKK on March 29, 2009, 13:22 GMT

    I support referral system because it makes the game fair. Only thing is, these third umpires are makiing mistakes even with all the help they have with the technology. The third umpire should support the onfiled umpire's decision unless it is blatently wrong. In the incident that Mr.Chappel mentioned, Graham smith should only use the referral if he is very much sure that Hughes was LBW and the umpire had unfairly given it not out. The fact that the umpire has given it a Leg bye shouldn't be taken into account when referring the decision. Would it be any different if the batsman didn't take a single in that ball and therefore there was no Leg bye call? I am sure Smith would have still referred it and the third umpire would have still ruled it not out. Also, what is wrong in adding some more technology in the last two tests of the series? It is only for the betterment of the game! Records are part of the game. But, we can't compromise fairness for the sake of preserving the records.

  • bivu on March 29, 2009, 12:42 GMT

    Here some guys are saying that players have to learn to take the bad with the good and at the end of the day all things will even out-guys just remember the acrimonious sydney tests where bucknor handed out wrong decisions to both teams-but in what proportion?-all combined india received 11 and aussies just 4-evens out !!!!

  • Vince01 on March 29, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    I think the referral system reduces the disputes with umpires and improves player behaviour on the field. Without the referral system, if the fielding side, for example, believes the batsman was out but he was given not out, they can carry on like pork chops. Look aghast, leave hands on heads for extended periods, shake their heads, snatch their hat from the umpire, kick the ground etc.. In short, they can, and do, make it very clear that they believe the batsman was out and they were robbed. They don't always just get on with it as suggested by other posters. With the referral system we don't get that behaviour because, if they are so sure it is out they can refer the decision. If they have run out of referrals they only have their own judgment to blame. With the referral system in place, they realy do just get on with it. The same happens for batsmen who think they have been robbed. We won't get the extended wait at the crease, the reluctance to leave, the head shaking, etc.

  • CharonTFm on March 29, 2009, 9:47 GMT

    At the end of the day all decisions eventually evens out. Just enjoy the game for what it is. When humans are involved errors will always occur. A fast ball that goes down the pitch reaches the batsmen within half a second, the umpire has to look at the action of the bowler, where their feet lands then quickly look up to see where the ball is going. In domestic cricket, where there are hardly any spectators, the noise is silence, however when you have fans in the Test arena screaming and yelling it becomes difficult to hear a inside edge, not to say that the sound of bat hitting the pads make a close sound to the edging of the ball. Technology is not 100% fool proof, nothing is. However even if the sides use up their two referrals then it's just back to the old ways, nothing has changed, the fact that the team uses it on small decisions is a choice they made.

  • don69 on March 29, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    Umpiring standards are not getting any better - and there's no reason to asume they will in the future. The umpires used are probably the best that are available right now. Since cricket is highly commercial now, getting the decision right is far more important then it was 30 years ago. Both the players and the fans deserve a system that gets it right. Human umpires can't do it alone. The referral system is not even close to perfect but it is a step in the right direction. I do agree with the sentiment that understanding the tech abilities is very important. However understanding the game is also very important. For that reason - and to make the process more streamlined, I would suggest that the "third umpire" is actually a team of 2 - a qualified umpire specialising in being a third umpire + a technician who knows the system inside and and out. That way both facets would be covered. I would also prefer the referrals were an umpires job (all 3 of them) and not the players.

  • Happydummy on March 29, 2009, 7:51 GMT

    I disagree. Technology has evolved so much with the human race that it has become an extension of our lives. Every other sport, whether its tennis, American Football, etc. use some sort of a referral system. I think this is essential to raise standards. After we're willing to place technology in can it grow due to its limelight. To me, it's just a matter of common sense. No longer can cricket be so orthodox and traditional. 20Twenty cricket and the referral system are the future of cricket, and they're here to stay.

  • Cricmike on March 29, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    There are issues that need to be worked out in the system, but for every instance of things going wrong there are wrong decisions correctly overturned. Also a lot of the bad decisions have been because the 3rd umpire has somehow made a mistake on review. For example the Powell edge behind that wasn't, clear daylight between bat and ball but the "out" decision was upheld. In the recent SA v Aus Test there was the instance where the 3rd umpire had to decide if Prince gloved it or not. No obvious deflection, nothing on hotspot, can't give it out right? Well Bowden did. Then when a similar thing happened to Mitchell Johnson happened the decision wasn't overturned. Seems to me a large part of the problem is that human error is still prevalent. Bad decisions do incorrectly alter the course of the game, as well as unfairly hurt/help players careers. If a cricketer playing for his place in the side could lose it due to a poor decision. Efforts should be made to eradicate those errors.

  • The_Wog on March 29, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    Chappelli was going OK until the last para - the old furphy about "improving umpiring standards." They're NOT going to get any better! We've eliminated home umpiring, put the "Top 10" in charge - there isn't a stash of better umpires waiting in the wings!

    The old system (field umpires) was declared unworkable by the ICC after Sydney. (You can't spell "BCCI" without "ICC"...) After that, the only choices are TV umpires, or self-regulation by players!

    Decisions are more accurate now, overall. They're not 100%, and the Harper situation was ugly. But the review has overturned SOME errors. Sure, let's try a self-referral by the field ump, and a 3U-referral where he sees something blatant where noone else has. But that's MORE referrals. It's the future of the game, that's the only thing that WON'T change.

  • Chris_Howard on March 29, 2009, 4:12 GMT

    It should never be forgotten that TV, the industry you work in, is the one responsible for the over-analysis of umpiring decisions and the subsequent push for more technology.

    I love going to the game. There's no technology. Players get a suspect decision, grumble a bit but then get on with it. No controversy. Meanwhile the poor TV viewer is subject to repeated replays and a beat-up controversy. It is refreshing seeing a game live as you can just enjoy the cricket.

    TV loves drama and controversy. Technology has been a great way to bring more of both into the game. I worry that once decisions are perfected by use of technology, what controversy will TV seek to bring into the game.

    Technology in umpiring has only made the game better for those watching on television, everyone else was happy before to take the good with the bad.

    If it must be used, I like Steve Bucknor's idea that only the umpire can seek a referral. Also fine players who pressure the umpire to refer.

  • RoyalSKW on March 29, 2009, 3:42 GMT

    Well Said Ian...But I feel the technology should not be used at all on television if it cant aid the umpires. Improperly used Technology only helps in poisoning home viewers' minds about the mistakes committed by the umpires,not just the glaring mistakes, but even the close ones and make the millions of us think that umpiring standards these days have fallen greatly.

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  • RoyalSKW on March 29, 2009, 3:42 GMT

    Well Said Ian...But I feel the technology should not be used at all on television if it cant aid the umpires. Improperly used Technology only helps in poisoning home viewers' minds about the mistakes committed by the umpires,not just the glaring mistakes, but even the close ones and make the millions of us think that umpiring standards these days have fallen greatly.

  • Chris_Howard on March 29, 2009, 4:12 GMT

    It should never be forgotten that TV, the industry you work in, is the one responsible for the over-analysis of umpiring decisions and the subsequent push for more technology.

    I love going to the game. There's no technology. Players get a suspect decision, grumble a bit but then get on with it. No controversy. Meanwhile the poor TV viewer is subject to repeated replays and a beat-up controversy. It is refreshing seeing a game live as you can just enjoy the cricket.

    TV loves drama and controversy. Technology has been a great way to bring more of both into the game. I worry that once decisions are perfected by use of technology, what controversy will TV seek to bring into the game.

    Technology in umpiring has only made the game better for those watching on television, everyone else was happy before to take the good with the bad.

    If it must be used, I like Steve Bucknor's idea that only the umpire can seek a referral. Also fine players who pressure the umpire to refer.

  • The_Wog on March 29, 2009, 4:18 GMT

    Chappelli was going OK until the last para - the old furphy about "improving umpiring standards." They're NOT going to get any better! We've eliminated home umpiring, put the "Top 10" in charge - there isn't a stash of better umpires waiting in the wings!

    The old system (field umpires) was declared unworkable by the ICC after Sydney. (You can't spell "BCCI" without "ICC"...) After that, the only choices are TV umpires, or self-regulation by players!

    Decisions are more accurate now, overall. They're not 100%, and the Harper situation was ugly. But the review has overturned SOME errors. Sure, let's try a self-referral by the field ump, and a 3U-referral where he sees something blatant where noone else has. But that's MORE referrals. It's the future of the game, that's the only thing that WON'T change.

  • Cricmike on March 29, 2009, 5:10 GMT

    There are issues that need to be worked out in the system, but for every instance of things going wrong there are wrong decisions correctly overturned. Also a lot of the bad decisions have been because the 3rd umpire has somehow made a mistake on review. For example the Powell edge behind that wasn't, clear daylight between bat and ball but the "out" decision was upheld. In the recent SA v Aus Test there was the instance where the 3rd umpire had to decide if Prince gloved it or not. No obvious deflection, nothing on hotspot, can't give it out right? Well Bowden did. Then when a similar thing happened to Mitchell Johnson happened the decision wasn't overturned. Seems to me a large part of the problem is that human error is still prevalent. Bad decisions do incorrectly alter the course of the game, as well as unfairly hurt/help players careers. If a cricketer playing for his place in the side could lose it due to a poor decision. Efforts should be made to eradicate those errors.

  • Happydummy on March 29, 2009, 7:51 GMT

    I disagree. Technology has evolved so much with the human race that it has become an extension of our lives. Every other sport, whether its tennis, American Football, etc. use some sort of a referral system. I think this is essential to raise standards. After we're willing to place technology in can it grow due to its limelight. To me, it's just a matter of common sense. No longer can cricket be so orthodox and traditional. 20Twenty cricket and the referral system are the future of cricket, and they're here to stay.

  • don69 on March 29, 2009, 8:56 GMT

    Umpiring standards are not getting any better - and there's no reason to asume they will in the future. The umpires used are probably the best that are available right now. Since cricket is highly commercial now, getting the decision right is far more important then it was 30 years ago. Both the players and the fans deserve a system that gets it right. Human umpires can't do it alone. The referral system is not even close to perfect but it is a step in the right direction. I do agree with the sentiment that understanding the tech abilities is very important. However understanding the game is also very important. For that reason - and to make the process more streamlined, I would suggest that the "third umpire" is actually a team of 2 - a qualified umpire specialising in being a third umpire + a technician who knows the system inside and and out. That way both facets would be covered. I would also prefer the referrals were an umpires job (all 3 of them) and not the players.

  • CharonTFm on March 29, 2009, 9:47 GMT

    At the end of the day all decisions eventually evens out. Just enjoy the game for what it is. When humans are involved errors will always occur. A fast ball that goes down the pitch reaches the batsmen within half a second, the umpire has to look at the action of the bowler, where their feet lands then quickly look up to see where the ball is going. In domestic cricket, where there are hardly any spectators, the noise is silence, however when you have fans in the Test arena screaming and yelling it becomes difficult to hear a inside edge, not to say that the sound of bat hitting the pads make a close sound to the edging of the ball. Technology is not 100% fool proof, nothing is. However even if the sides use up their two referrals then it's just back to the old ways, nothing has changed, the fact that the team uses it on small decisions is a choice they made.

  • Vince01 on March 29, 2009, 10:14 GMT

    I think the referral system reduces the disputes with umpires and improves player behaviour on the field. Without the referral system, if the fielding side, for example, believes the batsman was out but he was given not out, they can carry on like pork chops. Look aghast, leave hands on heads for extended periods, shake their heads, snatch their hat from the umpire, kick the ground etc.. In short, they can, and do, make it very clear that they believe the batsman was out and they were robbed. They don't always just get on with it as suggested by other posters. With the referral system we don't get that behaviour because, if they are so sure it is out they can refer the decision. If they have run out of referrals they only have their own judgment to blame. With the referral system in place, they realy do just get on with it. The same happens for batsmen who think they have been robbed. We won't get the extended wait at the crease, the reluctance to leave, the head shaking, etc.

  • bivu on March 29, 2009, 12:42 GMT

    Here some guys are saying that players have to learn to take the bad with the good and at the end of the day all things will even out-guys just remember the acrimonious sydney tests where bucknor handed out wrong decisions to both teams-but in what proportion?-all combined india received 11 and aussies just 4-evens out !!!!

  • spinkingKK on March 29, 2009, 13:22 GMT

    I support referral system because it makes the game fair. Only thing is, these third umpires are makiing mistakes even with all the help they have with the technology. The third umpire should support the onfiled umpire's decision unless it is blatently wrong. In the incident that Mr.Chappel mentioned, Graham smith should only use the referral if he is very much sure that Hughes was LBW and the umpire had unfairly given it not out. The fact that the umpire has given it a Leg bye shouldn't be taken into account when referring the decision. Would it be any different if the batsman didn't take a single in that ball and therefore there was no Leg bye call? I am sure Smith would have still referred it and the third umpire would have still ruled it not out. Also, what is wrong in adding some more technology in the last two tests of the series? It is only for the betterment of the game! Records are part of the game. But, we can't compromise fairness for the sake of preserving the records.