For umpires, ICC should not limit the use of DRS

by Ashish Magotra  Jul 16, 2013 13:31 IST

#Ashes 2013   #Australia   #Cricket   #England   #Sports   #ThatsJustWrong  

It's downright embarrassing to be told you are wrong over and over again in front of a live audience numbering in the thousands. It feels even worse when your mistakes are splashed -- in the form of an OUT or a NOT OUT over a giant screen leaving you open to ridicule.

So just for a moment imagine the plight of the umpire Aleem Dar. He won three consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards 2009, 2010 and 2011, after being nominated twice in 2005 and 2006. Make no mistake, he is one of the Elite umpires in world cricket.

To make matters worse, Dar, who missed a clear edge from England allrounder Stuart Broad on Friday, was accused of pro-English bias, with the Sydney Morning Herald suggesting that 'his performance in the past five days was so telling it would not surprise if Wills and Kate name their first born after him.'

In the Daily Telegraph, Australian cricket writer Malcolm Conn also complained about the Test being decided by the Decision Review System (DRS) and to an extent he was right. The DRS is an integral part of cricket and it's basically around to try and avoid such controversies but as was evident in the first Ashes Test, it's not really helping matters.

Dar didn't have his best match. Getty Images

Dar didn't have his best match. Getty Images

As things stand, both teams can make up to three incorrect challenges if they feel the umpire has got it wrong. But what about all the times when the umpires have to make decisions in split seconds. Put any human being in the same position and he is just as likely to get it wrong. Put Dickie Bird there and he would get it wrong too.

So shouldn't they have a safety net too? There will always be times when you are not quite 100 percent sure of the decision you are being called to give. There will also be times when you are just around 50 percent sure about your decision. Then, there are the external factors like the crowd, the weather and the appeal -- everything pushing you to give a decision in their favour. So mistakes will happen.

But the ICC can change things. According to the ICC rule book, the on-field umpire shall be entitled to refer an appeal for a run-out, stumping or hit wicket to the third umpire. This is in addition to the player appeals -- where they can refer any decision to the third umpire.

So to even things out, would it not make much more sense to allow umpires to refer all decisions that they have not quite made up their minds about to the third umpire. In the NBA, the umpires can call for an instant replay of a buzzer beater to determine if the shot was released before time expired. They can also use replays to determine players being ejected from contests involving brawls or flagrant fouls, and to correctly determine whether a scored field goal is worth two or three points.

The National Hockey League in America has an official who watches a monitor of the live match and communicates with the officials via telephone on goals that require another look. Why leave things to players when the officials themselves can sort out things?

The ICC, on the other hand, is limiting the use of technology because it probably fears that the role of the umpire will become redundant. Instead, it needs to go the other way and expand the use of DRS.

Allow the umpires to use technology as and when they feel it is necessary -- don't limit them to run-out, stumping or hit wicket decisions alone. Bring in LBW, caught behind and any other decision that the umpire feels he needs help with. Seeking help isn't a sign of weakness. We don't want umpires to become part of the story; we want them to give correct decisions; we want the game to be the centrepiece.

The technology will continue to improve. It will get better and more certain, and that is why the umpires must be allowed to use it and get better themselves.

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