The use of the third umpire in India won't be restricted to international and a handful of televised domestic matches anymore.
Thanks to an initiative by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), all matches under its purview including those featuring women and juniors (U-16, U-19 and U-22) will see the on-field umpires refer certain decisions to the third umpire.
The new system has already been introduced, through first-round matches of the national U-22 championship for the C.K. Nayudu Trophy, which got underway at different venues across India on Monday.
As of now, only run out, stumping and hit-wicket decisions can be referred to the third umpire.
Six cameras will be used for Ranji Trophy games and four for other matches. The practice of recording all domestic matches has been in place for a few years. Till now, the recordings were used to detect flawed bowling actions and keep track of umpiring decisions. While the bowling actions are studied at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, each venue has a former umpire designated as umpires' coach, who evaluates the performance of the officials.
This umpires' coach will now double as third umpire when the on-field umpires feel the need. There will be no red or green lights like in international matches. The third umpire will wave a red flag to signal ‘out', a green flag to say ‘not out' and a white flag to convey that replays are inconclusive. In case of the third, the on-field umpires will have to take a decision.
"In several matches, there are some close calls which become crucial in the end. So we have decided to introduce the concept of third umpire in all domestic matches to ensure that we get correct decisions," the BCCI's chief administrative officer Ratnakar Shetty told HT from Mumbai on Tuesday.
The BCCI has already supplied eight cameras to each of the 27 associations, which play Ranji Trophy, at an estimated cost of Rs 2 crore.
To ensure smooth operation, the BCCI has had to make sure that the quality of the equipment is up to the mark and that there are enough trained video analysts, who set up the cameras, lay the cables and control the monitor.
"We are continuing the process of training people and at the moment, we have about 60 trained video analysts. People, in fact, have started taking this as a career option," said Shetty.
The second day of the Bengal-Karnataka U-22 match in Kolkata saw two run-out decisions being referred to the third umpire. One of them was ruled out by umpires' coach Subrata Banerjee.