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Trial for plea against umpiring soon

One of the the most fundamental aspects of cricket - the onfield umpire's role - is to come under review, courtesy ICC.

cricket Updated: Jan 04, 2008 15:23 IST

One of the the most fundamental aspects of cricket - the onfield umpire's role as chief arbiter in all decisions - is to come under fresh review.
The International Cricket Council is considering trialing a system where teams can appeal an onfield umpire's decision for review by the third umpire using TV replays.

At least two contentious decisions in Australia's first innings in the second Test against India sparked media condemnation in both countries and calls from the subcontinent for a review of 61-year-old Steve Bucknor's position on the ICC's elite umpires panel.

Bucknor gave Andrew Symonds not out on 30 after the Australian batsman edged a catch to the wicketkeeper. He also declined to refer a decision on a stumping to the third umpire.

Symonds progressed to 162, resurrecting Australia's innings, and later admitted he did edge the ball but was not compelled to walk because it was up to the umpire to adjudicate.

ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed was in Sydney on Friday and told the official radio broadcaster that previous proposals to give both teams the right to appeal an umpire's decision had either been tried and failed or been rejected by member countries. "The cricket community is divided about the batsmen and bowler having an appeal," Speed said, adding that the idea had been put to the ICC board as recently as 18 months ago.

"There may be another change in the wind, more countries may support a trial of the system, where there are a limited number of appeals ... per innings."

Speed said the best opportunity to trial any new system would be a limited-overs tournament where all member countries are present. "I don't think it will be trailed in Tests. The Champions Trophy would be the time when all the best umpires, technology are there ... and we can get an idea of how it works."

Speed said many umpires supported the idea of more help from technology, though most had reservations. In cricket, the umpire's decision is final in all situations except line-ball decisions - run outs, stumpings and unclear boundaries - or catches which are in any doubt.

But even in those situations, currently it is the onfield umpire and not the teams which ask for the third umpire's verdict. Speed said technology was available to further assist on-field umpires, but was "not 100 per cent foolproof."

"Technology is here now, we are aware of it ... A lot of people are saying this is the answer, but we're not sure," he said. "We have to respect the traditions of the game."

Speed ruled out using technology like Hawk-eye, which is used by cricket broadcasters and by other sports, for lbw decisions. He said any trial would only involve expanding the use of TV replays for the third umpire.

"Some umpires support it, others say it's taking too much away and we'll simply become coathangers for the players." Experiments with expanded use of TV replays for umpires were inconclusive during the Super Series between Australia and the World XI in 2005.

South Africa's Rudi Koertzen and Australia's Simon Taufel were the first umpires ever allowed to consult a TV umpire for all decisions on dismissals in a Test match.

Koertzen said he did not like the technology because he preferred the human element, a sentiment echoed this week by members of the Australian team.

South Africa's Graeme Smith, who led the World XI , said he didn't believe the technology enhanced decision making. Smith said there were times during the Super Series when umpires made the wrong decisions, even with the help of TV replays, and the concept merely transferred the error factor from the field to the studio.