ICC to decide on umpire referral trials

The ICC cricket committee, whose two-day meeting in Dubai finished today, has recommended that trials of umpire review systems be approved by the full ICC board when it meets in July.

The move was given approval in March and involves greater use of technology and the ability for teams to refer a maximum of three decisions to the third umpire. A similar experiment was tried in English domestic one-day cricket last season but was widely considered unsuccessful.

The committee recommended that players "should be permitted to ask the on-field umpire to review any aspect of any other decision in consultation with the third umpire", and that Hawk-Eye should be used - but only to determine the path of the ball, up to the point that it struck the batsman.

In addition, the committee cast its eye over a number of playing conditions, notably the so-called "comfort break" which fielding teams increasingly use. It was the committee's recommendation that substitute fielders "should only be permitted in cases of injury, illness or other wholly acceptable reasons". The three other suggested changes to the playing conditions were:

  • In ODIs, the timing of one Powerplay should be decided by the batting side and three fielders should be permitted outside the fielding restriction circles for both the second and third Powerplays

  • The on-field umpires should be permitted to consult the third umpire as to whether a catch has been taken cleanly before making the final decision themselves

  • The bowl-out in the event of a tie in the ICC World Twenty20 or Champions Trophy should be replaced by a one-over-per-team play-off

The committee's recommendations will be forwarded to the chief executive's committee for approval, although that is no guarantee that they will be accepted as several made in 2007 were rejected out of hand.

The committee also held a lengthy debate on cricket's rapidly changing landscape, "in light of the fact that there are now three viable forms of the game at international level (Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals)". While accepting the one-dayers and Twenty20s have earned their place, the group identified Test cricket as the pinnacle of the sport "and expressed the need for the best available participants (players, umpires, referees etc) to be involved in international cricket".

It also recommended the ICC considers a Test league, or periodic play-off for the top two sides in the Test Championship.

The group was chaired by Sunil Gavaskar and included Mark Taylor, the former Australia captain; South Africa's coach, Mickey Arthur and Michael Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler. Other notable attendees were Simon Taufel, the Australian umpire; Steve Tikolo, the Kenya captain and Tim May, the chief executive of the players' representative body, FICA.