New Zealand v Australia, 1st Test, Wellington, 5th day March 23, 2010

'Tough week' for umpire review system


The Umpire Decision Review System can't win this week. It's not being used in Dhaka, which has angered Bangladesh's captain, while in Wellington the New Zealanders have been unhappy with what they believed was inconsistent application of the technology in their loss to Australia.

The problems began when New Zealand's first innings ended with the caught-behind of Tim Southee, who swung wildly at Mitchell Johnson and immediately appealed the umpire's out decision. The replays showed no indication that Southee had hit the ball, but nor was there any hard evidence that he had missed it, and the upholding of the decision prompted Daniel Vettori to visit the match referee Javagal Srinath soon afterwards.

"I don't want it to be seen as sour grapes, because it wasn't the reason we lost the game, but it has been a tough week for technology," Vettori said after the match. "The caught behind of Tim Southee, I just needed some clarification. I thought there was clear daylight between bat and ball and wondered why the decision was given.

"Srinath told me that unless there's absolutely conclusive evidence to say that it's not out they'll go with the on-field umpires' decision. We had a discussion around that. It's your take on what's conclusive and what's not. For us, being on the emotional side of it, we felt that it was conclusive one way. I understand the logic of the umpires, but it makes it difficult to take at times."

The review process was played out on the big screen at the Basin Reserve, which Vettori believes might put extra pressure on the umpires. The UDRS was in the thick of the action again on the fourth day when the extreme wind meant the hi-tech cameras were too unstable to be relied upon, but despite the issues Vettori said he still supported the system.

"This is the first time we've had a bad run with it in terms of the inconsistency of the decision-making," he said. "It worked badly for both teams. Yesterday Australia weren't able to use the referral system because the technology wasn't ready. So it's been a tough week and it shows there's still a lot of work to do. But I think generally I support it."

Ricky Ponting had long and protracted discussions with the umpires while the wind situation was explained to him after Australia appealed for an lbw only to be told the tracking system was unavailable. He said while nothing could be done about the conditions, the communication from the match officials could have been better, although he was mostly only worried about whether he would lose his review for being unsuccessful.

"I could understand if it wasn't working," Ponting said. "The only thing that disappointed me was that I didn't know about it, I didn't know it was off at one end and being used at the other. I'd spoken to the referee at lunchtime and he told me it was still working fine but it was going to take a little bit longer to get the information through.

"All the discussions I had with the umpires yesterday was about making sure we didn't lose a review. I didn't want to lose one if there was no technology to be had. I'm not disappointed at all in the system. They are getting more decisions right and it has to be good for the game."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Conrad on March 26, 2010, 9:55 GMT

    Apparently it's a common fact ... umpires favor the stronger team.....why is that! "oh it's Ricking Ponting , he wouldn't let himself be trapped in front for 2!?"..... "who's Brent Arnel?...looks a good shout....I'll give it out...".... Some umpires do seem intimidated by the "better" teams....makes it hard for the "weaker" teams to get any "better". For any side to compete against the big four Aus,Ind,SA,Eng , they'll need to play very well, have some luck, and hit the stumps an awful lot! Someone as good as Ponting or Kalis might only give you one chance early....then they are off. Things get too one sided , the match doesn't twist and plots do becomes boring , so people turn off , or just watch T20's....6 nil ashes whitewashes etc.....are a recipe for disaster .

  • shalal on March 24, 2010, 19:00 GMT

    The problem is, what is the definition of a shocker or a howler? If i am a NZ fan, Southees decision was probably a shocker. To an Aussie it may have been a very close call!The UDRS , to my mind was introduced to help technology improve the consistency of umpiring decisions. Where is the consistency if with an lbw appeal a ball clipping the stumps is out if the on field umpire thinks it is but not if he has ruled it notout! Why this protectionism towards the on field umpire. No it shouldnt just be for howlers it should be to help make the right decision wherever technology suggests it is. Players are deemed to be runout if they are fractionally short; if it was still left to the on field umpire who gave it notout it wouldnt have been a howler but we use technology because it gives us the right decision. It also should not be dependant on whether the host country can pay for it or not. Its either used in every series or none at all.

  • Steve on March 24, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    My main issue with the UDRS from the NZ-AUS test was that it was not able to be used consistently across the whole test match due to the weather. I know it is impossible to predict the future with freakish weather but it is ridiculous that the UDRS can be applied for part of a game but not for another. As for the referred decisions, I thought those where a decision could be made were accurate under the terms of reference for review. Would have liked the 3rd umpire to have been able to get the McIntosh "no ball" decision corrected as it would have stopped some of the complaining from commentators/players/spectators.

  • Dre on March 24, 2010, 5:40 GMT

    Why still these loose accusations of umpire bias. I disn't see anything to suggest that they are. Every delivery is different and thus can be perceived differently. I agree with those saying that the UDRS is for HOWLERS, the decisions were pretty marginal and I've heard commentators DOUBT hawk eye several times in the past.

  • Jeremy on March 24, 2010, 5:03 GMT

    I am a fan of the UDRS. However, I am not a fan of the 3rd Umpires who decide what is conclusive evidence. This dates back to way before the UDRS was implemented when during india's tour of australia, in THAT test match, where Andrew Symonds was out about 3 times, once or twice before crossing 50, but was never given out. That to me was the difference between a drawn series and Australia winning. Bucknor as usual was terrible once again with Indian playing in Australia. But what I didnt get was the simple stumping decision. His toe was clearly on the line with no part of it being behind it. Yet he was given not out. If umpires cannot make such simple decisions, how can one expect them to make the right call on edges and lbws? I say first train Umpires based on what the average human being sees and then have specialist 3rd umpires do the job of the UDRS system. Until then lets put the system on hold.

  • Fred on March 24, 2010, 0:07 GMT

    For me, the UDRS is working reasonably well, for one key reason: in case of insufficient clarity on review by the third umpire, the final decision is in the hands of the on-field umpire. This contrasts with American football where the review is final. I would oppose reducing to one review per side; two is sufficient and not too intrusive.

    In general, as we have known for some time with the informal use of Hawkeye and Hot-spot, umpires at this level are very good at making correct calls on LBW and fine edges caught. Yes, there are occasional obvious misses, but most of the time they are uncanny.

    The real problem in this Test was at the other end entirely -- the inability to see obvious overstepping. Interestingly, under Law 24, only the umpire at the bowling end can make those calls, while either umpire may make other no-ball calls. In any event, what's up with the rash of no-balls by spinners lately?

  • Ameya on March 23, 2010, 16:24 GMT

    UDRS has worked fine for me.There really werent any shockers that werent reversed through the referrals. Southee called for a review , but really once you looked at it bat was too close to the ball , now there was any other evidence which clearly showed any evidence other way. UDRS worked well, everyone did what was required aleem Dar did good job while being the third ump at it. The real shockers for the UDRS came in the carribean in the wisden trophy(benefeciary largely Chanderpaul) and in RSA again with England being the other team (last test AB devilliers).

  • Agnel on March 23, 2010, 15:15 GMT

    I have always maintained that if UDRS cannot be consistently applied to all test matches, all ODIs and all T20 Internationals for all international teams, then it should not be allowed. By doing this, we are letting inconsistency prevail. Its time the Inconsistent Cricket Council change to its original form.

  • Robert on March 23, 2010, 15:15 GMT

    While I am a fan of the UDRS, I would have liked to see it implemented differently. The idea was to eliminate howling errors, but it is instead being used to refute every other close call in the hopes of getting a decision overturned. Genuine howlers are pretty rare, maybe one or two per series tops so the UDRS shouldn't need to be used any more than this. The close umpiring decisions (good or bad) add another element to the game that on the whole make it more interesting; its not just about the fitness and skill of the players but also the officials.

    The one thing I don't quite understand is why no-balls haven't been handed to the third umpire yet. The cameras are there for run outs, so they are best placed to make a correct call and in most cases its not as though the on field umpire can call early enough to affect how a batsman will handle a ball. Let the on field umpire concentrate on what's happening at the batsman's end and just get a whisper in the ear when its a no ball

  • Rupesh on March 23, 2010, 14:15 GMT

    The application of UDRS was actually correct. Do not overturn the on-field decision unless the 3rd umpire finds convincing evidence otherwise. The evidence has to be convincing to the 3rd umpire, not to the players or fans. This eliminates howlers while for marginal decisions, the on-filed umpire's decision stands. That is how it should be.

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