Simon Taufel, the former ICC Elite Panel umpire, is not in favour of wides and height no-balls being referred as part of the two DRS reviews teams have in T20 cricket. Taufel's opinion is in contrast to that of India and Rajasthan Royals legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal, who believes bowlers need a "bit more help" and that teams can "take a chance" by reviewing a wide call as it can potentially be pivotal.
Talking with ESPNcricnfo, Chahal said he was at the receiving end of a potential wrong call on a wide this IPL during the April 10 league match against Lucknow Super Giants. Off the fourth delivery of his fourth over, the 18th of Super Giants' innings, Chahal bowled a wide legbreak which pitched outside the off stump of Dushmantha Chameera. It was called a wide. Chahal disagreed and even had a word with the umpire.
Chahal did trap the Sri Lankan batter lbw next delivery, but said the extra ball cost him dearly as Marcus Stoinis lofted a six off the final ball of his spell. It nearly affected the match result, too, as Royals managed to win by just three runs.
"Definitely. Even umpires are human beings. They can make a mistake, but teams can win by a single run many times," Chahal told ESPNcricinfo when asked if would want wides referred as part of the two reviews teams had. "That happened with me against Lucknow when the umpire signalled a wide, but when I saw it on replay it was not a wide. But due to that I had to bowl an extra ball and I even got hit for a six off the last ball. It became a seven-ball over and they could score seven runs. As it is T20 is a batsman-dominated game, so if the bowlers get a bit more help, we can do that."
A few weeks later, though, Royals captain Sanju Samson was miffed in the match against Kolkata Knight Riders on May 2, when the on-field umpire Nitin Pandit signalled a wide on three occasions during the penultimate over of the game delivered by Prasidh Krishna. Samson pointed out to Pandit that the batter had moved laterally even before Krishna had released the ball.
Analysing the incident after the match, which Knight Riders won, ESPNcricinfo experts Daniel Vettori and Imran Tahir agreed that bowlers needed "avenues" to "rectify" umpiring errors through the means of the two reviews.
This season, the IPL has added an extra review making it two per innings, something Chahal said was sufficient. "If you want to take a chance, take a chance, but we are giving you only two reviews. We are happy with that."
Taufel, though, remained concerned.
"I'm really conscious around trying to turn the art of officiating into a science and seek perfection, whatever that looks like, with decision making," Taufel told ESPNcricinfo in an interview to be published later this week. "So with wides for example, and here we're going to, potentially according to you, or according to the player or the debate, take a wide call and throw that back to the third umpire for them to judge on something that might be marginal and is still a judgement call."
Judging a wide, Taufel pointed out, was never an easy job and there are no clear definitions in the laws and playing conditions.
"Are you going to be able to overrule as a third umpire what a leg-side wide might look like? That's a really interesting proposition to throw to a third umpire and say: I definitely think you got that wide wrong. If you look at a ball that cuts across a right-hander from a left-armer (fast bowler), that cuts the wide guideline - that's a pretty big call to overrule. Can you clearly define for me what conclusive evidence is to overturn a wide both leg-side, off side and height?
"And where do you then draw the line as to what a wide is? Because with wides, for example, you still got this opinion around: either could the batsman have played a shot? Has the batsman brought the ball sufficiently within reach? And you are putting them (under) a lot more stress and pressure around those definitions. Of course, if the ball has flicked the bat or the pad, and an umpire's called a wide - yeah, that's quite clearly an error. (But) I worry about where this is going to end up. Is everything that an umpire does likely to fall under the Decision Review System?"
Former India head coach Ravi Shastri, though, said that questionable calls on wides and height no-balls should be directly dealt by specialist TV umpires and not via DRS review.
"I agree totally, because that could be a game-changer,"Shastri told ESPNcricinfo. "The match could go into the last ball and 12-15 runs needed in the last over, a no-ball at that stage could make a lot of difference. You have the third umpire sitting there, you have the technology, use it."
Such an exercise could potentially stretch the match time, which Shastri agreed to, but was not fussed about. "You'd rather have a fair game. If it's delayed by a minute, so be it. But rather have a fair game so there are no arguments later. Leave it to the third umpire, let him take the decision and let that be final."
Taufel, though, disapproved, saying getting the third umpire involved directly or via DRS, would mean the match would be slowed down and asked if the game was ready for such a "trade off".
"How much time are all these reviews going to take out of the playing time? I remember only last year, some commentators like the late Shane Warne were complaining about how an ODI finished 30 minutes past the scheduled cut off. You cannot have a quick game and also analyse every ball - there is always a trade off."
According to Taufel, bowlers and umpires would find it easier to adjudicate on wides better once the modified MCC Law becomes effective from October 1. Recently, the MCC said it was updating Law 22.1 governing wides to address the increasing challenge batters were posing by moving laterally across the crease.
Taufel, who sits on the MCC Laws sub-committee, said the move was to "provide a bit more latitude for the bowler for it not to be called a wide if the batter is going to move their stance while the bowler is running up. And there is more clarity for the umpire about the batter moving in their stance."
ESPNcricinfo's full interview with Simon Taufel will be published on Thursday, May 26
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo