MCC committee supports umpire referrals

The MCC World Cricket Committee has called for an extension of the player referral system used in the Friends Provident Trophy during the English season into Test cricket with more use to be made of the technology available.
It recommended a continuation of the current system whereby two appeals against umpiring decisions are allowed per innings by both the fielding and batting sides. However, unlike the ECB experiment where only a 'clear of obvious mistake' could be over-ruled by the third umpire the cricket committee wants the TV official to be able to make his own decision with the help of more sophisticated technology.

It said that Ultra Motion cameras - the extra-slow replays - should always be available to provide evidence of thin edges and bat-pad catches or lbws.

During the Friends Provident Trophy the third umpire could only use standard replays to form his decision, and no decisions were overturned, but the committee wants the introduction of Hawk-Eye into the process, although adds its accuracy would have to be independently verified first. During a recent meeting in Cape Town the cricket committee met with the makers of Hawk-Eye who guaranteed the accuracy of the system to within 5mm.

The MCC has offered to assist with the increased costs of the cameras for the trial period, but also concluded that the trials should take place in a Test series, where the highest quality of technological presence is available.

The committee felt that the game should make use of Hawk-Eye to assist in the tracking of deliveries for lbw decisions up to the point of impact with the batsman, but that the predictive path technology, currently used on television to predict where the ball might have gone thereafter, should not be used by the third umpire.

But they added that other technology, such as Snickometer and Hot-spot, should not be used for initial trials although didn't rule out an introduction in the future.

"The committee feels that the player challenge system could have a positive effect on the spirit of the game," said a statement. "A batsman who gets an obvious edge on a ball but is given 'not out' may be more inclined to walk in the knowledge that he would certainly be given out by the third umpire, if the fielding side made a challenge.

"The committee recognised that to dispute an umpire's decision is contrary to the Spirit of Cricket but felt that the system is nonetheless worth trialling when utilised in tandem with the extended availability of technology to the third umpire. However, the trial must be conducted in such a way as to assist the umpires in every possible way and all challenges to umpiring decisions in the trial must be made in a way which maintains the umpires' dignity and authority over the game."

The format and success of the World Twenty20 was also praised, but the committee warned of the dangers of increasing the number of matches played and feels the current level set by ICC - three home games in a summer - should remain.

However, they reiterated their view that some teams play too much Test and ODI cricket, adding: "Twelve Tests is considered a reasonable limit and the maximum number of games in a one-day international series should be five. The committee is worried that players will increasingly suffer from tiredness and injury as a result of their increased schedules, as well as having no time to play in their own domestic cricket. "