February 3, 2010

Make the third umpire proactive

It may disempower the two men on the field but failing to do so could make them unbending, self-protecting not-outers instead
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"First an ugly, growing roar of protest, then a storm of boos, finally, from far back in the open stand to the right of the pavilion, the bottles. Lobbed like hand-grenades, the opening volleys bounced separately along the boundary edge. Within seconds these had grown into thick showers, not from this stand only, but from all round the ground … The whole playing area was a confusion of darting figures, of gesticulating mobs, of isolated but brutal fights…"

Such were Alan Ross's lyrically wincing recollections of the riot that disfigured and interrupted the second Test in Port-of-Spain half a century ago this week. Those of England's captain, Peter May, were typically understated and characteristically stiff-upper-lipped, but no less unnerving:

"It was quite frightening. Fred Trueman grabbed a stump and placed himself in front of me. 'They won't touch you, skipper,' he said. I appreciated the thought but was not quite sure that this was the way to restore peace. By then, however, it was clear that the situation was hopeless. The ground authorities had been caught completely by surprise, so we had no alternative but to retreat and await the riot squad."

Unsurprisingly, the trigger for the riot - if not the underlying cause, which ultimately lay with the social and political problems that accompanied the laudable but doomed attempt to federate and unite the Caribbean islands - was an umpiring decision. West Indies were heading for defeat and the latest wicket, of Charran Singh, had been a reasonably clear-cut run-out. "The umpire's decision is final," proclaimed Learie Constantine, ashamed at the violent fall-out. "Without that there is no cricket."

We have come a long way in the 50 years since that sorry day, mirroring as it did the bottle-throwing at Bourda in 1954 and anticipating another riot at Sabina Park in 1968. No longer is the umpire's decision final - or at least not his first decision. Not only is it open to endless reinterpretation; it is also merely a starting point for negotiation. That, in itself, is not to be bemoaned. Far from it. As the stakes have grown, so the price of inefficient adjudication has risen.

Regrettable as it is to see the perpetrators of unintentional errors crucified as if they were criminals, the Umpire Decision Review System has performed the game a considerable service by exposing Daryl Harper's manifest and manifold shortcomings. It has also exposed the fraudsters who stand their ground, mouth oaths and glare daggers when they know full well they have edged or gloved the ball. Over the past month I've seen more batsmen vacating the crease briskly, even walking, than during the past four decades. You know that can't be bad.

Dave Richardson, the ICC's admirable general manager, claims that, courtesy the UDRS, the proportion of correct decisions has surged from 91% to 98%. Even the massed ranks of sceptics and cynics cannot object to that. Yet reservations linger. And niggle.

Surely HotSpot, Snicko and the gang should be available for all or none. If the aim is to improve the game at large, how can the casting vote be permitted to rely on the depth of the broadcasters' coffers? For Richardson to defend the ICC's refusal to finance the technology because it would deprive the Associate nations of funding seems ingenuous

SPORT IS CURRENTLY in the throes of a technological love affair, rendering the obstinate resistance within the most popular game, soccer, ever more inexplicable. It all began with horse racing and steward's inquiries. Tennis, rugby and American football have all embraced HawkEye, alternative camera angles and/or the slow-motion replay, and reaped the benefits. In the Canadian Football League, the referral system, which the cricketing model otherwise replicates, rewards successful appellants by granting them an additional challenge. Baseball, so long a haven for human error, has recently taken the tentative step of utilising replays, initially at least, to assess the legitimacy of home runs. Even boxing is contemplating deploying technology to rule on illegal blows and injuries. And justice for all … and all that.

Because of the multiplicity and diversity of decisions involved, and the slenderness of the margins between right and wrong, between narrowly in and fractionally out, cricket's long march into this brave new world - it is now almost two decades since television was first employed to arbitrate on run-outs - was always going to attract the most controversy (similar as baseball is, wickets are far more elusive than outs, the strike zone stipulated but strictly invisible and hence highly subjective). Foremost among the debating points, and the most pressing issue for the impending independent review by Clive Lloyd and the barrister Brent Lockie to address, is the blatant unevenness of the playing field.

After all, how can it possibly be fair and just that a batsman can be reprieved in Durban but not Dhaka, given out in Birmingham but not Barbados? Surely HotSpot, Snicko and the gang should be available for all or none. If the aim is to improve the game at large, how can the casting vote be permitted to rely on the depth of the broadcasters' coffers? For Richardson to defend the ICC's refusal to finance the technology because it would deprive the Associate nations of funding seems ingenuous. At best.

Yet what vexes even more is that players can now openly question umpires, are entitled to question them, even encouraged to question them. For years, Dennis Lillee and many others could express dissent at will, but then legislation was introduced and fines imposed, albeit arguably not frequently enough, nor heavily enough. Now their heirs have licence to challenge, to potentially demean. Goodness knows what example this sets to younger generations, unattended as school and club games are by the all-seeing camera.

In American football it is the coaches, who have instant and constant access to replays, who do the challenging. This seems far more decorous and proper, and more likely to result in success. Out on the greensward, referrals, as often as not, are requested in the turbulent heat of the moment, in anger and/or disbelief, without the support of televisual evidence.

Such are the constraints of the referral system, moreover, that once a team has exhausted its challenges, whether through ill-luck or poor and/or hasty judgement, there remains plenty of scope for the sort of howlers Richardson and his chums pride themselves in having slashed if not quite exterminated. As Mike Selvey pointed out in the Observer, an erroneous not-out decision has always been deemed a lesser sin than incorrectly sending a batsman on his way. The danger, he concludes with all the passion of a frequently-wronged former bowler, is that the UDRS will breed a new generation of Dickie Birds, of unbending, self-protecting not-outers. It is a legitimate concern.

Is there a way to resolve this unsatisfactory state of affairs? Perhaps. Rather than being regarded as a third party, an optional extra, a last resort, the third umpire must be incorporated as part of a fully-fledged, inter-dependent, mutually supportive and equal team. He must be permitted to be proactive rather than merely reactive.

Consider the following scenario, one that cropped up time and again during the recent Basil D'Oliveira Trophy series and one that will probably materialise again in Nagpur (aside from the fact that the series will not have UDRS) this weekend. Zaheer Khan angles an inswinger into Graeme Smith's pads, whereupon the ball straightens and strikes South Africa's captain on the knee-roll as his forward press takes him to the farthest edge of his crease. A lusty, concerted appeal rents the afternoon air.

However, instead of hoisting an educated guess of a forefinger, Ian Gould demurs, alerted by a brief yet insistent buzzing in his ear. Up in the pavilion, the third umpire, who did the buzzing, believes there is room for doubt. Would the ball have singed the stumps or crept over? He scrutinises the replays for a minute, maybe two, then relays his verdict to Gould.

Yes, Gould may well feel a trifle disempowered, a bit less manly. Yes, the time taken might even rob the paying customers of an over. Then again, if any sport can afford to take its time to get things right, it is assuredly cricket. We already hold up play to rule whether the ball has crossed the boundary.

Rob Steen is a sportswriter and senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • valey on February 6, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    The solution to all of this is quite simple - do not use Hawkeye at all. Snicko, HotSpot and good old fashioned replays are all that is needed to remove the howlers from the game. It has been a shame watching batsmen going straight for a referral on an LBW in the hope that Hawkeye will show it missing the stumps by a few millimetres - this is not fair on the umpires and will as mentioned turn them into "self-protecting not outers". The howlers we want to see gotten rid of from the game are the massive nicks into the pads that are given out LBW (as in last night T20 between Aus and Pak) or the nicks that are missed by the umpire that everyone else on the field has heard - these are both situations where either the batsmen has hit it or not, and Hawkeye has no role to play in these situations. Use replays for run outs or stumpings as has always been the case, use the best available technology for the bad decisions, and get rid of the technology that is ruining this system.

  • pardo on February 5, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    I agree, but I'd go further. First, giving players the power to challenge the umpire lessens the umpire's authority so the review should be automatic and instigated by either the onfield or third umpire and not the players.

    Secondly, if the purpose is to get bad decisions out of the game why limit teams to two unsuccessful reviews? If two close calls were turned down and left with the on field umpire and then he makes a howler why can that not be reviewed?

    Thirdly, to encourage walking when the ball has been hit, and to discourage laughable appeals, batsmen should be docked runs if a review reveals that they nicked it and didn't walk, and bolwers should have extras charged against them if more than a set percentage (say two thirds) of their appeals are turned down.

    Finally, the technology must be the best available and it must be at all games, and it must be fast.

  • bobagorof on February 4, 2010, 22:41 GMT

    @popcorn: "Hawkeye is NOT accurate, and should not be used.Hawkeye ONLY calculates the trajectory,not the resultant reaction between ball and pitch". Hawk-Eye can determine, based on the data that it is fed, the path of the ball (height + direction). If data is provided to it of the ball's path after pitching (30cm or so according to Hawk-Eye's inventor), it can extrapolate that information to predict the path of the ball - because barring some freak gust of wind the conditions aren't going to change between pitching and passing the stumps. Physics dictates that the ball will continue on the trajectory set in those first 30cm after pitching. Yet somehow a computer model, tested, is less accurate than a human eye with parallax error (ie not in the same plane as the ball) that has a fraction of a second to interpret whether there is a skerrick of movement or bounce? Give me a break!! Hawk-Eye all the way!

  • ab1968 on February 4, 2010, 20:26 GMT

    In your scenario the umpire would get habituated to waiting for a buzz.

    I agree that 'using up' referrals is stupid. The role of the on-field umpires should be that of tennis line judges: empowerment but overruled by the third umpire in the case of obviously poor decisions. This would also reduce the need for neutral umpires in the middle - one could be neutral, the other local.

    So, the on-field umpire takes the decision for a dismissal, the bastman HAS to walk and, worst case scenario, waits in a holding area if the 3rd umpire feels there is doubt.

    For a non-dismissal, once again the 3rd umpire has to react quickly enough before the next delivery. This will be easy for obvious decisions such as inside edges on lbws or bump balls to short leg or pitching outside the line. For marginal catches, overrules are difficult anyway due to uncertainty and the decision would stand.

    So - use the tennis model.

  • Wodenski on February 4, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    I like the referal, I think it adds an interesting dynamic to the game. I would prefer though that each player be given one referal per test.

    I also feel that the 3rd umpire should be in communication with the on field umpires. I also like the suggestion made of rotating the 3rd umpire with the onfield umpires.

  • Shrini on February 4, 2010, 15:03 GMT

    I guess the standard of umpiring can go up only if they are paid well, and if they are taught the nuances of umpiring. If done so, the use of UDRS doen't arise. And that seems to be the best solution to the problems of umpiring errors.

  • popcorn on February 4, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    1).The Batting Side AND the Bowling Side should not be alloed to refer decisions.2). Players should BELIEVE that the Umpires are fair and honest.3). They will do so when the On -Field Umpires consult each other - as they do now, for a catch AND consult the Third mpire when THEY think there is ANY element of doubt.4).The On Field Umpire should be empowered to freely call for a Referral to the Third Umpire for ANY lbw or nick decisions that he feels is doubtful.5). The Third Umpire should be empowered to inform an Onfield Umpire that his decision is incorrect,EVEN WITHOUT THE ONFIELD UMPIRE REFERRING IT TO HIM. This will endear to cricketers,support staff,media,and spectators alike,that fairness to the batting side or fielding side is indeed happening.6) Only proven technology such as Cameras for Run -Outs, Hotspot for nicks /edges/lbws should be used.Hawkeye is NOT accurate, and should not be used.Hawkeye ONLY calculates the trajectory,not the resultant reaction between ball and pitch.

  • skidmark on February 4, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    a little off track here but, i have always thought umpiring for 5 days must be hard without a break, so why not rotate the umpires between on field and 3rd ump? It gives them a break and may cut down of fatigue related errors. One session in the box and two in the field!

  • cam.skirv on February 4, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    Riverline, why is it ideal for the game to be played without the need for on field umpires. What you say is an absolute joke. If we did away with on field umpiring in any sport, there would be no control of the game, you would have both sides sledging each other and a possible fight may occur on the ground. Can you imagine what would have happened with Dennis Lillee and Javed Mihandad if umpire Tony Crafter wasn't there to separate them? The onfield umpire's job is not just about making decisions, its about overseeing the behavour of players and to ensure the game is played in the right spirit and to ensure that everyone is safe on the field.

  • Subra on February 4, 2010, 3:15 GMT

    You are quite right Bob. Technology should be used in ALL TEST MATCHES. Giving more power to third umpire is great - can help the on-field umpire make better decisions on marginal cases. Do away with the UDRS but give more power to the third umpire. This way the umpire's decision is final - you cannot challenge the umpire's decision - the purists will be happy - but at the same time we embrace technology, with the proviso that all available technology must be present in all test matches - the home board to be held responsible! Siva from Singapore

  • valey on February 6, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    The solution to all of this is quite simple - do not use Hawkeye at all. Snicko, HotSpot and good old fashioned replays are all that is needed to remove the howlers from the game. It has been a shame watching batsmen going straight for a referral on an LBW in the hope that Hawkeye will show it missing the stumps by a few millimetres - this is not fair on the umpires and will as mentioned turn them into "self-protecting not outers". The howlers we want to see gotten rid of from the game are the massive nicks into the pads that are given out LBW (as in last night T20 between Aus and Pak) or the nicks that are missed by the umpire that everyone else on the field has heard - these are both situations where either the batsmen has hit it or not, and Hawkeye has no role to play in these situations. Use replays for run outs or stumpings as has always been the case, use the best available technology for the bad decisions, and get rid of the technology that is ruining this system.

  • pardo on February 5, 2010, 11:19 GMT

    I agree, but I'd go further. First, giving players the power to challenge the umpire lessens the umpire's authority so the review should be automatic and instigated by either the onfield or third umpire and not the players.

    Secondly, if the purpose is to get bad decisions out of the game why limit teams to two unsuccessful reviews? If two close calls were turned down and left with the on field umpire and then he makes a howler why can that not be reviewed?

    Thirdly, to encourage walking when the ball has been hit, and to discourage laughable appeals, batsmen should be docked runs if a review reveals that they nicked it and didn't walk, and bolwers should have extras charged against them if more than a set percentage (say two thirds) of their appeals are turned down.

    Finally, the technology must be the best available and it must be at all games, and it must be fast.

  • bobagorof on February 4, 2010, 22:41 GMT

    @popcorn: "Hawkeye is NOT accurate, and should not be used.Hawkeye ONLY calculates the trajectory,not the resultant reaction between ball and pitch". Hawk-Eye can determine, based on the data that it is fed, the path of the ball (height + direction). If data is provided to it of the ball's path after pitching (30cm or so according to Hawk-Eye's inventor), it can extrapolate that information to predict the path of the ball - because barring some freak gust of wind the conditions aren't going to change between pitching and passing the stumps. Physics dictates that the ball will continue on the trajectory set in those first 30cm after pitching. Yet somehow a computer model, tested, is less accurate than a human eye with parallax error (ie not in the same plane as the ball) that has a fraction of a second to interpret whether there is a skerrick of movement or bounce? Give me a break!! Hawk-Eye all the way!

  • ab1968 on February 4, 2010, 20:26 GMT

    In your scenario the umpire would get habituated to waiting for a buzz.

    I agree that 'using up' referrals is stupid. The role of the on-field umpires should be that of tennis line judges: empowerment but overruled by the third umpire in the case of obviously poor decisions. This would also reduce the need for neutral umpires in the middle - one could be neutral, the other local.

    So, the on-field umpire takes the decision for a dismissal, the bastman HAS to walk and, worst case scenario, waits in a holding area if the 3rd umpire feels there is doubt.

    For a non-dismissal, once again the 3rd umpire has to react quickly enough before the next delivery. This will be easy for obvious decisions such as inside edges on lbws or bump balls to short leg or pitching outside the line. For marginal catches, overrules are difficult anyway due to uncertainty and the decision would stand.

    So - use the tennis model.

  • Wodenski on February 4, 2010, 17:38 GMT

    I like the referal, I think it adds an interesting dynamic to the game. I would prefer though that each player be given one referal per test.

    I also feel that the 3rd umpire should be in communication with the on field umpires. I also like the suggestion made of rotating the 3rd umpire with the onfield umpires.

  • Shrini on February 4, 2010, 15:03 GMT

    I guess the standard of umpiring can go up only if they are paid well, and if they are taught the nuances of umpiring. If done so, the use of UDRS doen't arise. And that seems to be the best solution to the problems of umpiring errors.

  • popcorn on February 4, 2010, 10:19 GMT

    1).The Batting Side AND the Bowling Side should not be alloed to refer decisions.2). Players should BELIEVE that the Umpires are fair and honest.3). They will do so when the On -Field Umpires consult each other - as they do now, for a catch AND consult the Third mpire when THEY think there is ANY element of doubt.4).The On Field Umpire should be empowered to freely call for a Referral to the Third Umpire for ANY lbw or nick decisions that he feels is doubtful.5). The Third Umpire should be empowered to inform an Onfield Umpire that his decision is incorrect,EVEN WITHOUT THE ONFIELD UMPIRE REFERRING IT TO HIM. This will endear to cricketers,support staff,media,and spectators alike,that fairness to the batting side or fielding side is indeed happening.6) Only proven technology such as Cameras for Run -Outs, Hotspot for nicks /edges/lbws should be used.Hawkeye is NOT accurate, and should not be used.Hawkeye ONLY calculates the trajectory,not the resultant reaction between ball and pitch.

  • skidmark on February 4, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    a little off track here but, i have always thought umpiring for 5 days must be hard without a break, so why not rotate the umpires between on field and 3rd ump? It gives them a break and may cut down of fatigue related errors. One session in the box and two in the field!

  • cam.skirv on February 4, 2010, 4:15 GMT

    Riverline, why is it ideal for the game to be played without the need for on field umpires. What you say is an absolute joke. If we did away with on field umpiring in any sport, there would be no control of the game, you would have both sides sledging each other and a possible fight may occur on the ground. Can you imagine what would have happened with Dennis Lillee and Javed Mihandad if umpire Tony Crafter wasn't there to separate them? The onfield umpire's job is not just about making decisions, its about overseeing the behavour of players and to ensure the game is played in the right spirit and to ensure that everyone is safe on the field.

  • Subra on February 4, 2010, 3:15 GMT

    You are quite right Bob. Technology should be used in ALL TEST MATCHES. Giving more power to third umpire is great - can help the on-field umpire make better decisions on marginal cases. Do away with the UDRS but give more power to the third umpire. This way the umpire's decision is final - you cannot challenge the umpire's decision - the purists will be happy - but at the same time we embrace technology, with the proviso that all available technology must be present in all test matches - the home board to be held responsible! Siva from Singapore

  • Squizza on February 4, 2010, 3:14 GMT

    Peoples love affair of technology has taken the whole purpose of the review system out of perspective. Originally the system was implement to irradecate OBVIOUS ERRORS. Now OBVIOUS ERRORS consists of a bat pad been claimed when the batsman new he didn't hit it, another OBVIOUS ERROR is a lbw given out when the batsman knew he didnt hit it. These are OBVIOUS ERRORS. The system is now been used to adjudge every little decision. An LBW that has been given out where the batsman believes the ball has hit him outside off stump is not an OBVIOUS ERROR, that is human judgement. A bowler challenging an LBW appeal that has been turned down because the umpire believes it pictched out side leg is also human judgement not an OBVIOUS ERROR. When are people going to remember that cricket is all about human judgement?? The bowler need to out think the batsman, the batsman needs to out think the bowler and get on top of him, and the umpire is out there to make sure everything is legit!!

  • RottPhiler on February 4, 2010, 2:07 GMT

    If as you suggest, we make the third umpire proactive, then I personally feel, that there is no need for on field umpires, and we should take all 3 umpires off the ground and put them in the TV booth.

    This also prevents umpires getting in the way of the ball and unwittingly preventing sure boundaries (and also getting hurt :D).

  • bobagorof on February 4, 2010, 1:14 GMT

    What I don't fully understand is why the 3rd umpire must comply with the on-field umpire unless there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary (and sometimes not even then). The umpire makes a split-second decision. The batting (or fielding) team decides that they don't agree with it, and so decides to risk one of its permitted challenges. At this point, the on-field umpire's decision should have no bearing on the 3rd umpire's conclusion - they should decide based solely on the replays, Hot Spots, Hawk-Eye, and other technological evidence available to them. Their decision then stands. This way, there is no presumption of either innocence or guilt - only an unbiased decision based on all available evidence. Of course, the name would need to be changed from Umpire Decision Review System to something like 3rd Umpire Decision System, as it would no longer be a 'review'

  • Nerk on February 3, 2010, 23:18 GMT

    I'm not a fan of the system. Its not that I dont want the sacred posting of umpire undermined, or the purity of the game blah blah. I do not like it because it is boring. The idea itself is interesting and seemingly simple. But this is far from an ideal world. Viewers now have to put up with the spectacle of the player umming and eering, wondering if he was hit in line, talking with his chum down the other end to see if he should refer. Then, when he actually does refer, we the viewer are put through endless slow motion replays, and commentators putting forth their opinions. Then finally, just before the brain collapses in on itself out of sheer boredom, the umpire is proved correct after all and the batsmen heads back to the pavillion. And now we can get back to cricket. In comes the bowler, does he find a faint edge? The umpire says no. So the feilding capt. ums and eers, and talks to everyone on the team to see if he should appeal...

  • factoryard on February 3, 2010, 13:56 GMT

    Yeah Rob you got it right, the third umps must have more authority, but he must also use the same criteria for all teams & players. Some players of some countries must not feel squeeze by a decision. Like the LBW'S , let's say the part of the ball hit inline, some third umps might give it out some might not. I would say if anything like 50% or more of the ball hit then it's out. Let us use our technology to find the % of the ball that hit the stump and no one will feel agrieve. The sport need to be fair & find the right decision, so if it calls for the third umps to have more authority then so be it. Let us take a look at all the big money sport, the authorities do whatever to make sure they get the right decision. Time, no problem just let us get it right for all.

  • DavidJohnson on February 3, 2010, 13:29 GMT

    The technology is there to take a lot off the on-field umpires:-

    Let the technology rule on run-outs and stumpings automatically; Use the same technology that tennis uses to rule on over-stepping for no-balls - with tennis there is an audible bleep immediately; The third umpire can count the number of balls bowled;

    There is, actually, a powerful argument that says that the fielding side should not have to appeal - the umpire gives the player out, end of story (perhaps even penalising the fielding for excessive appealing?). You don't see footballers appealing to the referee to award a goal when the ball is in the back of the net, do you? But maybe that is some time in the future.

  • batfry on February 3, 2010, 13:05 GMT

    @Browndog1968, noble sentiment, but the problem with what you suggest is that there is the peril of latter-day 'Bucknor' avatars, who'll see dependence on technology beneath their metier and use such hegemony over the option-to-use as an excuse for non-use, which is, given the high stakes, aking to misuse.

  • Mr_Chablis on February 3, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    One area in which the third umpire should become proactive is no-balls. If an onfield umpire misses a no-ball and a batsman is 'obviously' out, e.g. bowled or caught in the deep, the fielding side is hardly likely to challenge. By the time the replay indicates a no-ball, it is too late. A quick check by the third umpire could easily establish whether the delilvery was legitimate. It need not hold up the game, as the batsman would probably still be walking off the field by the time the review was completed and could therefore quickly return to the crease or continue on his journey back to the pavilion.

  • batfry on February 3, 2010, 11:49 GMT

    The least the powers-that-be can do is transfer the no-ball calling decision to the third umpire. Unbeknownst to anyone, there are a god deal of them going unnoticed.

  • batfry on February 3, 2010, 11:46 GMT

    This is among the best suggestions we've had in a long time... however, it's unlikely it would have helped in England's case (with Smith's decision), with the third umpire not using the equipment at his disposal effectively

  • dar268 on February 3, 2010, 11:37 GMT

    I think everyone's losing the plot. Why does it matter if the odd decision is wrong?Isn't the key question "does the technology add to the spectator's enjoyment of the game?"?

  • raveen_ds on February 3, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    The simplest and I think most effective advancement we could make with technology would be a no-ball detector, similar to foot-faults in tennis. If the popping crease could be regulated by technology, the umpire could concentrate on the real action down the other end, without having to look down then up, sometimes within half a second. Just like keeping your head still improves your batting, it will surely improve an umpire's judgement. The best thing about this is that there is little argument over what constitutes a no-ball, especially from side-on, while the umpire's front-on view gives more of a grey area.

  • japdb on February 3, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    I agree that the third umpire should be trained and be specialized in third umpiring. Maybe high definition more frames/sec fixed cameras could be used to aid the television cameras. The better resolution and more frames would obviously help hawkeye. They could be fixed on the sightscreens and at rightangles to the creases. The third umpire should be proactive and not rely on player calls for reviews. It should be all up to the three umpires.

  • riverlime on February 3, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    Ideally, The game should be played WITHOUT the need for on-field umpires. However that would be far too cumbersome with the technology currently available. As a result, the umpiring of any decisions in the game should be done as close to perfection as possible,using all the tools at hand, and to hang with umpires' pride. They are merely accessories to the game, and not the central roles they claim to be.

  • Shyam_prasad on February 3, 2010, 8:07 GMT

    What would be better is to provide an on-demand slow motion replay feature with matting (shaded area showing 'in-line-with-stumps') and sounds to the third umpire and have him review the decision with just one replay before alerting the on-field umpire that he would like to review the decision in detail. The preliminary review should not take more than 20 seconds so the game will not be held-up until and unless there is sufficient doubt in the third-umpire's mind over the on-field umpire's decision. Once the third-umpire decides to review the decision in detail the process becomes similar to the existing DRS. I had actually submitted this idea to cricinfo about 3 weeks ago hoping it would be featured in the "Inbox" blog but for whatever reason they have chosen not to publish it.

  • Browndog1968 on February 3, 2010, 7:49 GMT

    I believe it should be a tool for the onfield umpires rather than a way to see them humiliated by players questioning their decisions. In that same scenario, what is wrong with the umpire seeing the ball hit the pads albeit a little high and immediately referring to the third umpire to check the height. Similarly with edges, the onfield umpire hears a noise without deflection and goes upstairs to confirm with hotspot. Win win in my book.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on February 3, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    IMO, it's first important to sort out our approach to cricket and that is to ensure that the game is made as fair as possible for both teams and thereby allowing the better team to win. So, there's no place for egos and every person associated with the game, umpire, referee, player has his role and job cut out on the field. The great thing about technology is that it keeps improving and as it does, reduces the errors and speeds up the decision making process. There's no reason, why a third umpire cannot communicate the right verdict to an appeal within 10 secs and that's a mighty long time and enough to decide, if we have an alert umpire. The on field umpires are regulators of the game, much like a teacher in a classroom, while the technology acts as several eyes to the teacher to keep an eye on the situation where decisions are needed or when the students are upto pranks. Technology is just an extension of the concept of neutral umpires introduced to eliminate nationalistic bias.

  • kunuko on February 3, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    This is a great recommendation provided the ICC take notice. Alternately, even the on-field umpires could ask for assistance if they are themselves in doubt.... just like how they refer the Run-Outs. In-fact, they should be empowered to VERIFY their view on an impending decision with the TV umpire. If they are wrong, they'll try and improve while if they are right, it will only boost their confidence. Of course, when decisions are clear cut, it will not require the TV umpire's intervention. In addition, to avoid Steve Bucknor-Andrew Symonds type of howlers, the team should have an option of review though as Rob mentioned, if the TV Umpire also can constantly keep an eye on the decisions and advise on the wrong ones, we might not need the players challenging the umpires. The Umpires need to challenge themselves to be as correct as TV replays and that alone will make this Review System successful.

  • on February 3, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    I feel the same way. The third umpire must be asked to do more. Many atimes we see a wrong decision made by a standing umpire and this impacts the results of the match. The third umpire should not only be there to give an opinion/decision when asked. He should be empowered to tell the onfield umpires that a wrong decision has been made; that a batsman is out or not out. If you are employing technology to held with getting the correct decision, then you should use this technology to the fullest.

  • vswami on February 3, 2010, 5:50 GMT

    The most sensible article and suggestions on UDRS so far.I dont understand why Dave Richardson cant get it and he wants to persist with the current tedious process of referrals. Also the average age of umpires needs to be brought down. Guys like Rudi Koertzen are past their prime and younger, newer umpires, especially ex-cricketers who have taken to umpiring like Kumar Dharmasena need to be fast tracked if they are good enough.

  • on February 3, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    Absolutely, Rob, the idea of a "panic button" for a third umpire who is fully equipped with pictures - and sound! - is an excellent solution. A far better solution than having the players involved at all.

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  • on February 3, 2010, 4:57 GMT

    Absolutely, Rob, the idea of a "panic button" for a third umpire who is fully equipped with pictures - and sound! - is an excellent solution. A far better solution than having the players involved at all.

  • vswami on February 3, 2010, 5:50 GMT

    The most sensible article and suggestions on UDRS so far.I dont understand why Dave Richardson cant get it and he wants to persist with the current tedious process of referrals. Also the average age of umpires needs to be brought down. Guys like Rudi Koertzen are past their prime and younger, newer umpires, especially ex-cricketers who have taken to umpiring like Kumar Dharmasena need to be fast tracked if they are good enough.

  • on February 3, 2010, 5:59 GMT

    I feel the same way. The third umpire must be asked to do more. Many atimes we see a wrong decision made by a standing umpire and this impacts the results of the match. The third umpire should not only be there to give an opinion/decision when asked. He should be empowered to tell the onfield umpires that a wrong decision has been made; that a batsman is out or not out. If you are employing technology to held with getting the correct decision, then you should use this technology to the fullest.

  • kunuko on February 3, 2010, 6:07 GMT

    This is a great recommendation provided the ICC take notice. Alternately, even the on-field umpires could ask for assistance if they are themselves in doubt.... just like how they refer the Run-Outs. In-fact, they should be empowered to VERIFY their view on an impending decision with the TV umpire. If they are wrong, they'll try and improve while if they are right, it will only boost their confidence. Of course, when decisions are clear cut, it will not require the TV umpire's intervention. In addition, to avoid Steve Bucknor-Andrew Symonds type of howlers, the team should have an option of review though as Rob mentioned, if the TV Umpire also can constantly keep an eye on the decisions and advise on the wrong ones, we might not need the players challenging the umpires. The Umpires need to challenge themselves to be as correct as TV replays and that alone will make this Review System successful.

  • TheOnlyEmperor on February 3, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    IMO, it's first important to sort out our approach to cricket and that is to ensure that the game is made as fair as possible for both teams and thereby allowing the better team to win. So, there's no place for egos and every person associated with the game, umpire, referee, player has his role and job cut out on the field. The great thing about technology is that it keeps improving and as it does, reduces the errors and speeds up the decision making process. There's no reason, why a third umpire cannot communicate the right verdict to an appeal within 10 secs and that's a mighty long time and enough to decide, if we have an alert umpire. The on field umpires are regulators of the game, much like a teacher in a classroom, while the technology acts as several eyes to the teacher to keep an eye on the situation where decisions are needed or when the students are upto pranks. Technology is just an extension of the concept of neutral umpires introduced to eliminate nationalistic bias.

  • Browndog1968 on February 3, 2010, 7:49 GMT

    I believe it should be a tool for the onfield umpires rather than a way to see them humiliated by players questioning their decisions. In that same scenario, what is wrong with the umpire seeing the ball hit the pads albeit a little high and immediately referring to the third umpire to check the height. Similarly with edges, the onfield umpire hears a noise without deflection and goes upstairs to confirm with hotspot. Win win in my book.

  • Shyam_prasad on February 3, 2010, 8:07 GMT

    What would be better is to provide an on-demand slow motion replay feature with matting (shaded area showing 'in-line-with-stumps') and sounds to the third umpire and have him review the decision with just one replay before alerting the on-field umpire that he would like to review the decision in detail. The preliminary review should not take more than 20 seconds so the game will not be held-up until and unless there is sufficient doubt in the third-umpire's mind over the on-field umpire's decision. Once the third-umpire decides to review the decision in detail the process becomes similar to the existing DRS. I had actually submitted this idea to cricinfo about 3 weeks ago hoping it would be featured in the "Inbox" blog but for whatever reason they have chosen not to publish it.

  • riverlime on February 3, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    Ideally, The game should be played WITHOUT the need for on-field umpires. However that would be far too cumbersome with the technology currently available. As a result, the umpiring of any decisions in the game should be done as close to perfection as possible,using all the tools at hand, and to hang with umpires' pride. They are merely accessories to the game, and not the central roles they claim to be.

  • japdb on February 3, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    I agree that the third umpire should be trained and be specialized in third umpiring. Maybe high definition more frames/sec fixed cameras could be used to aid the television cameras. The better resolution and more frames would obviously help hawkeye. They could be fixed on the sightscreens and at rightangles to the creases. The third umpire should be proactive and not rely on player calls for reviews. It should be all up to the three umpires.

  • raveen_ds on February 3, 2010, 11:24 GMT

    The simplest and I think most effective advancement we could make with technology would be a no-ball detector, similar to foot-faults in tennis. If the popping crease could be regulated by technology, the umpire could concentrate on the real action down the other end, without having to look down then up, sometimes within half a second. Just like keeping your head still improves your batting, it will surely improve an umpire's judgement. The best thing about this is that there is little argument over what constitutes a no-ball, especially from side-on, while the umpire's front-on view gives more of a grey area.