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No use questioning each umpiring error

india Updated: Dec 13, 2009 00:41 IST
Sunil Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar
Hindustan Times
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The Umpire Decision Referral System (UDRS) that the ICC has put in place has come in for a fair bit of criticism. Skippers of teams using it have not liked it and umpires have shown reluctance to be shown up as having made an error.

The idea behind bringing in the system was to avoid glaring errors that happen in the heat and pressure of Test and international matches. Didn't we all, sitting in front of our TV screens, exclaim when a decision went against our favourite player? We always thought, why not use the slow motion technology to rectify a wrong decision.

The ICC listened and did what many wanted and, after a trial period in ODIs, brought in the referral system. There were countries who had a chance to oppose it at ICC forums but did not. So, it has been used in some Tests and internationals.

The Lankans recently observed that had the system been used during the just concluded Test series, maybe they could have scored another 500 runs.

The problem has been that the game of cricket is such that youngsters are brought up to accept the umpire's decision, as there are fines whenever a player has expressed dissatisfaction.

Now, suddenly, with the UDRS, players can ask for the TV umpire to be brought in and he can overturn the field umpire's decision after watching the slow motion replays. Each team gets three referrals and if they get all three wrong, they don't get any more for the innings and so captains and players have to be absolutely sure that they have got it right.

If the idea is to try and have an error-free game without doing away with the values of the game, the best way is to have the TV umpire ask the field umpire to wait as he watches the replays and then conveys whether the call was right or not.

This is infinitely better than a player asking for a review. The player's don't challenge the field umpire nor are they worried about getting it wrong.

Umpiring mistakes are the main reason for friction between teams and at times the men in white coat are seen as being too deliberate or one-sided. It is for this reason that the ICC introduced neutral umpires.

There is no doubt that it has brought down the ill feeling among teams and the players are more likely to accept a neutral umpire's mistake than a home umpire's error even if it is one that can change the course of the match.

The use of technology to try and get a correct decision is a good move and that's why it is being used for run-outs and stumpings. With TV coverage improving, umpires' decisions will be scrutinised and lead to a controversy but that is inescapable in the modern world where mistakes get highlighted. The sensible thing would be to not jump to conclusions about the rights or wrongs of the decisions made by the umpires. That, however, is easier said than done.