I knew that I was in trouble. I’d called for a run, got a negative response from my partner, albeit a bit too late. I scrambled back to the crease and made a desperate dive. I wasn’t sure if I’d made it back and neither was the umpire.
Till the last season, it was that split second decision from the on-field umpire which would have sealed my fate, but this time it was different; he had the option of referring it to the third umpire. After an agonising wait for a few minutes, I got the green signal of safety and heaved a sigh a relief. I did survive to live another day.
This is one of the new innovations the BCCI has made in the current first-class season. While they had installed 6 cameras to cover every first-class match a few years ago, this referral system for run-outs and stumping decision is introduced this year.
It required an upgraded software and better trained analysts to make it work smoothly (recording, rewinding and replaying it in real time needs expertise) but the BCCI must be given due credit for both spending the money and the making the effort.
It takes a few minutes (approximately 3 minutes for a decision) at the moment, but any batsman worth his salt would tell you that it’s better to wait for a few minutes than to take the long walk back.
The BCCI has also introduced a couple of rules which aren’t half as helpful as the referral system. One such rule is about the ‘comfort break’.
In the past, players could go off the field for up to 8 minutes without getting penalised but it’s not the case anymore. These ‘comfort breaks’ are a no-no. Even the ‘nature’s call’ isn’t a valid excuse to get a substitute.
The umpires won't stop you from going off but won’t allow the substitute either. And that led to a funny incident in an Under-16 match. A kid desperately wanted to relieve himself but the umpire denied the substitute.
His coach was adamant too, didn’t allow the poor guy to come off the field, for it would have meant fielding with 10 players. The young kid couldn't control anymore and relieved himself on the boundary rope.