South Africa news January 19, 2010

Arthur reveals 'misgivings' about UDRS

Cricinfo staff

South Africa coach Mickey Arthur has expressed his "mixed feelings" about the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), and has called for standardising the use of the system across the world by using all the tools available.

"I was always in favour of the UDRS but now that we have seen the system in operation for a decent period of time, I have mixed feelings," Arthur told the Wisden Cricketer magazine. "Incorrect umpiring decisions can affect the results of matches and also players' careers so I felt that anything that could bring more correct decisions had to be good for the game.

"The system is definitely more good than bad but I do have some misgivings. If Hot Spot and Snicko are used in one series but not another then the system is half-baked."

In fact, he said there were reservations about Hawk-Eye's predictive element as well, indicating if the ball would go on to hit, or miss, the stumps. "I'm not 100% convinced about the predictive element of Hawk-Eye and I don't think many players are either."

Another issue he drew his attention to was the amount of time taken to decide whether to call for a review. "I understand that in Australia it has been 10 seconds," Arthur said. "In our series against England we were given 25. I think it's fair to say that both South Africa and England did take longer than we should have done at times."

He also believed more lbws would be given under the UDRS in the subcontinent. "It will be interesting to see how the UDRS works in the subcontinent," Arthur said. "I suspect there may be more lbws given out on review because height and bounce will rarely be an issue. In the past these decisions would have been given not out because of the turn and perhaps the batsman getting a long way forward." South Africa will play two Tests in India next month, but a verification of Arthur's statements might have to wait a little longer since the UDRS is unlikely to be used during that series.

The recently-concluded Test series between South Africa and England had created an uproar regarding the UDRS, with umpire Daryl Harper at the centre of controversy. When Graeme Smith, on 15, flashed a cut at Ryan Sidebottom during the fourth Test in Johannesburg, England went up as one for the top-edge. However, Tony Hill, the on-field umpire, turned down the appeal and Andrew Strauss quickly asked for a review.

There was no noticeable deflection on the replays so the noise from the stump microphone would have to be the decisive evidence. Except Harper couldn't hear anything, so he simply upheld Hill's decision. Smith went on to score 105 and South Africa went on to level the series 1-1 with the innings-and-74-run win. However, Arthur said that as far as the umpires' perspectives went, he felt that they might have made "made their peace" with the system as long as correct decisions were reached in the end.

"I get the impression that some umpires are in favour of it, others less so. [Dave] Richardson [the ICC's general manager (cricket)] told us that the UDRS has improved the percentage of correct decisions from 93 to 98. And that really is what it comes down to. If the UDRS can eliminate the absolute shocker, then it is doing its job."