'Shocking and embarrassing' system may be short-lived

Third umpire interventions currently used in the domestic limited overs competition and the BBL may be on the way to being scrapped at season's end

Daniel Brettig
Daniel Brettig
John Hastings erupts after picking up Ricky Ponting's wicket, Victoria v Tasmania, Ryobi Cup, Melbourne, October 28, 2012

Australian players are unhappy with the ability of umpires to intervene in on-field decisions at their discretion during domestic limited overs games  •  Getty Images

Described as "shocking and embarrassing" by the Tasmania captain George Bailey, the system of third umpire interventions currently used in the domestic limited overs competition and the Twenty20 Big Bash League may be on the way to being scrapped at season's end.
While Cricket Australia remains officially in favour of the system, the players' collective discontent with its inconsistent application and confusing outcomes has risen to such a level that the issue is likely to be a point of considerable debate at the influential CA cricket committee meeting next year.
The committee adjudicates on matters including playing conditions, and in recent seasons has dealt with issues such as the short-lived split innings experiment in limited overs matches during the 2010-11 season, and the changing of rules governing player eligibility for the Futures League second XI competition to allow more players over the age of 23.
Bailey made his discontent with third umpire interventions plain following the Tigers' five-wicket loss to Queensland on Wednesday night, despite it aiding his side's cause when Peter Forrest was ruled LBW via the third umpire Paul Wilson. After the on-field umpire Geoff Joshua had rejected Queensland's appeal.
"It's just shocking, it's embarrassing, it needs to worked out," said Bailey, also Australia's Twenty20 captain. "I think it confuses the players, I think it confuses the umpires. I think leave it in the hands of the players. You get two, if you use them with bad reviews then so be it."
Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association and a member of the cricket committee, said the problems encountered with the system had not been envisaged at the time it was devised, and would force a close look at its faults at the end of the summer.
"Certainly when it was talked about conceptually we didn't see the problems that would come up," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo. "There are issues with broadcaster actually showing replays, and I don't think anyone saw that, and it just seems to be inconsistent the way that it is working. It definitely is something we need to put on our agenda for the coming year.
"We haven't specifically polled them on this issue but anecdotally the players are having an issue with the inconsistency, they find it confusing, they find it too slow. Overall the comments we're getting from players is they don't think it's a great system."
While there is some support for Bailey's preference for the implementation of a DRS-style system in the manner of that used at international level, it appears more likely that televised domestic matches would revert to the former style of third umpires being involved with line calls like run-outs and stumpings, unless the money can be found to replicate the Hot-Spot and ball-tracking aids available for internationals.
"The feedback we've got from the players is they'd prefer a DRS style system than the current interventions," Marsh said. "But the problem is if the technology isn't good enough there's no guarantee you're going to get a replay that will answer the question. If Australian cricket wants to go that way it needs to invest in the technology to aid these decisions."
CA's cricket operations manager Sean Cary is presently comfortable with the system in place, and through a spokesman indicated that in their first season in 2011-12 third umpire interventions were responsible for 12 incorrect decisions being overturned with the help of video evidence.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here