Challenging the Umpire

The following post has been cross posted on the Pavilion Seat blog.

An ICC committee has passed a resolution (well only just, 6 votes for and 5 against) to try out a system under which captains and players would be allowed to question three decisions made by the on-field umpires in an ODI. Those will then be referred to the third umpire for reconsideration. Also, the LBW decision would not be up for reconsideration by use of Hawkeye, but the use of the LBW mat will be permitted. The proposed changes will be tried in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy, and, if successful, in the World Cup next year. A successful appeal will not be counted (as one of the three) while an invalid one will.

However, these suggestions raise a few questions in my mind:

1. Won’t it undermine the authority of and respect for the on-field umpire? The ICC itself is sceptical “about the implications such a process would have on the Spirit of Cricket, the fabric of the game and the authority of the on-field umpires”.

2. What if the third umpire makes an incorrect decision? The events of Sachin being declared run out against Pakistan in Eden in 1999, and that of MS Dhoni’s run out against England in Mumbai in 2006 come to mind, where the third umpire made an error in judgment according to many. I mean that technology is only as good as the person using it. Also, what happens if a team is unhappy with the decision made by the third umpire?

3. What is the impact of a wrong decision on the outcome of the game? The game between Venus Williams and Sprem serves as an example, where, due to a scoring error, Venus lost an important point and her place in the tournament!! However, “I don’t think one call makes a match,” was what Ms. Williams said after the match.

4. Why test it out in premier events like the Champions Trophy and the World Cup? (This one left me totally baffled!)

“You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to work out that if we use it, it has to be along the lines of American football, where the players and the coach get to challenge a decision using replays,” says Dave Richardson, ICC general manager. With due respect to Mr. Richardson, I hate the idea of the 22 yards being turned into an American football field.

I would probably agree with Ms. Williams that one or a couple of bad decisions do not make a match. More importantly, even if they do, they form a part of the ‘glorious uncertainties’ of the ‘gentleman’s game’. Some of them should not be done away with, I think. What say you?






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