Decision referral system February 10, 2009

Giles Clarke wants referrals in umpires' hands

Cricinfo staff

Giles Clarke: "The players would rather the umpires deliberated among themselves than challenge them" © PA Photos

Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, has indicated his opposition to the current decision referral system being trialled by the ICC. The system, which is being used in the West Indies-England Tests, enables both batting and fielding teams to challenge decisions made by the on-field umpires. Instead, Clarke is in favour of the on-field umpires directly consulting the third umpire in case of doubtful calls, along the lines of the system used during the Stanford Super Series in Antigua last year.

During the tournament, umpires were allowed to make use of TV replays for all contentious decisions, including leg-befores and caught behinds. The third umpire was also allowed to intervene via communication equipment in case of an obvious error made by on-field officials. "I saw nothing in the first Test to indicate we should not trial the Stanford system," Clarke told the Times. "I mentioned its benefits to the ICC, and the ECB will propose it formally at our meeting next month. The players would rather the umpires deliberated among themselves than challenge them.

"It is too late to change the trial system during this series but we would like to see the Stanford system tried before any decision is taken by ICC before the Ashes series this summer." The ICC has received mixed reactions since the debut of the referral system in the Tests between Sri Lanka and India last year. However, it decided to extend trials to three other Test series. After the upcoming Australia tour of South Africa, seven teams - Sri Lanka, India, New Zealand, West Indies, England, South Africa and Australia - would have been exposed to the new umpiring system.

Clarke, who was elected for a second term earlier this week, also chalked out his plans for English cricket. "We, the ECB, need to communicate better, but the pace of events has been such that there has been a lot of reacting rather than strategic development," he said. "We have made much progress in helping improve the game's finances and the single most important thing is the financial future of county cricket.

"We have to ensure that grounds are renovated and that the matches put on are what spectators want to watch. We have to do what we can to support struggling clubs, and the introduction of capped salary payments will ensure a level playing field for the counties. Without the broadcasting deal we did with BSkyB before the recession started, the game would be in a parlous state.

"The strategic seminar we held last month made it clear that slow over-rates have to be addressed - spectators need to know when the game is going to finish - as do excessive drinks intervals, players going off the field for bad light when they could be carrying on, the 12th man coming on and off, and technological issues."

Clarke is also in favour of having floodlit Tests in England, but is worried over the high prices of Test match tickets, especially in a period of economic downturn. He said he wanted to make good use of former England captains and players in helping the current lot. "Geoffrey Boycott has a great deal to contribute," he said. "He was on the telephone to me from South Africa for 45 minutes the other day at his own expense. I would like to see him assisting the senior England cricketers and the up-and-coming ones, but his media work precludes it."