England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 4th day August 4, 2013

Prior open to non-neutral umpires


Matt Prior has suggested he would welcome England and Australian umpires officiating in Ashes Tests in an attempt to eradicate the errors that have marred the Investec Ashes series.

England have become increasingly frustrated by the unpredictability of the umpiring in the series. While they are sympathetic to the on-field officials, understanding that mistakes are inevitable in such circumstances, they are less phlegmatic about mistakes after the involvement of the DRS.

The latest controversy concerned an appeal against David Warner, after England were convinced his attempted pull shot had resulted in an edge to wicketkeeper Prior. Hot Spot, which has looked an increasingly unreliable tool in this series, showed nothing, but audio replays suggested an edge. The TV umpire upheld the on-field umpire's decision of not out. Snickometer, which is not part of the DRS, also backed up England's case.

It left England "frustrated" in Prior's words, and while he remains supportive of the DRS in general, he did suggest the system may require some examination and expressed a willingness to abandon one of the founding principles of Test umpiring in recent years: that of neutrality.

"I honestly don't care where the umpires are from as long as the right decisions are made," Prior said. "I think that is the most important thing. You need to make sure that decisions are correct.

"It doesn't matter if they are Aussies or English or anybody else; all you want is the right outcome at the end of the day.

"There was disbelief [when Warner was given not out] because he hit it. That's why we referred it and when you are that sure and it is still given not out it is quite frustrating. That's why there was a bit of chat around.

"There wasn't any evidence [from Hot Spot] and that is frustrating. All you can go on from a referral point of view was how you see it. Alastair Cook and I were pretty adamant he had hit it. I think Snicko shows he did. We were right in referring it, but unfortunately it did not go our way.

"It is pretty frustrating for everyone at the moment," he said. "At no time will we ever be critical of an umpire making the wrong decision on the field. Everyone makes mistakes in a day. I know more than anyone: it all happens quickly. Everyone is looking at me for DRS decisions and it happens quickly.

"I have always said I am a big fan of the DRS. It works and it is the way forward but once you use a review you have to then get a decision right. Once it goes up to the third umpire the decision that comes out has to be the correct decision. Whether the technology needs to be looked at or how they use it, I don't know. But for the players at the moment that is the biggest frustration."

ESPNcricinfo understands that the possibility of utilising non-neutral umpires in the Ashes has been discussed, but that the Australian and English boards are reluctant to set a precedent that could result in non-neutral umpires around the world. Instead, the boards are considering inviting overseas umpires to officiate in their own domestic cricket with a view to helping them develop their skills.

At present, only four umpires - Marais Erasmus, Tony Hill, Kumar Dharmasena and Aleem Dar - are eligible to stand in Ashes series as the rest on the ICC's elite panel are from either England or Australia.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Taha on August 6, 2013, 20:00 GMT

    We need to keep neutral umpires.

  • Taha on August 6, 2013, 19:59 GMT

    @HemangaR: My friend what I am saying is that cameras used by the broadcasters to cover matches use more than 500 FPS (Frames Per Second). However it is not possible to broadcast to live audiences at that FPS of 500 +. In that aspect you are right that they would broadcast to the TV viewers at 25 to 29 FPS and if you record that video and run it in slow motion you would get the ball traveling a half meter to one meter between each frame, just as you mentioned. However, whenever the feed and replays are requested by the 3rd umpire to make decisions or for hot spot etc. the video recording provided is the one on 500 + FPS. In that case the distance the ball travels between each frame is a few centimeters only.

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2013, 6:21 GMT

    I don't see why the 12 elite umpire names are not put in a hat and four drawn.

    They are after all "elite".

  • Dummy4 on August 5, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    I agree with you Erantha, umpire Dharmasena made a right decision, and i dont know why commentators and the Australians making complain when they are on fore-front favouring DRS and I applauded the writer of this article to provide the truth.

    I do know that there have been lots of bad decisions against the opponents by English and Aussies umpires, it has been a norm to favour the hosting country....they are available on youtube.

  • Dummy4 on August 5, 2013, 16:25 GMT

    I would say whatever Dharmsena has done... Are blunders!... DRS is a good thing... but instead of all signs of KP not getting or Warner getting out.... "How can you go to the on-field call" .... It means you know the decision is wrong.....but still you want to go ahead for the on-feild call.... This is a disaster.... and shouldn't happen....

    I also think that they should look on increasing no. of reviews per innings... 2 are not sufficient!

  • Jason on August 5, 2013, 16:23 GMT

    Maybe with the Neutral umpire panel being so small for England vs Australia games the umpires in the middle should be from the nations two nations such that (1 english and 1 Australian) with a well trained neutral monitoring the DRS and a neutral replacement umpire.

    Sadly most of the controversies have been due to misinterpretation of the DRS data available.

  • Tom on August 5, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    It doesn't prove that Aus/Eng umpires are more efficient. It just shows the players disrepect for the officials and the rules regarding the games. I have seen English umpires makes number od mistakes during a single game.

  • Steve on August 5, 2013, 15:42 GMT

    Neutral Umpires and DRS along with HotSpot are a must that should be mandatory for all international cricket matches. This will remove the element of bias and human error to a great extent where players can feel secure. A few mistakes now and then will always occur, but that can't be a reason to go back to dark age.

  • Tom on August 5, 2013, 14:49 GMT

    @Chris_P Let me remind you of this. In the 1970-1 Ashes series there were serious disputes about the umpiring quality, including accusations of bias, to such as extent that the England captain Ray Illingworth was hauled over the coals for dissent by the MCC. Lou Rowan, who umpired every game in the six match series, was at the centre of the controversy. One particular bone of contention was that no Australian batsman was given out LBW in the entire series. His warnings to John Snow for intimidatory bowling were another.

  • Hemanga on August 5, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    tahalateef: Mate I didn't say super slomo cameras doesn't exist. What I said is that cameras use to telecast cricket is only record 25 or 29 frames per second. That is why in run out decisions most of the time you miss the exact frame when bat passes the crease or ball breaks the stump.