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Referrals: Not absolute, but accurate

The lesson to be drawn from this is that it is always better to believe the umpire and not the players, however great they may be at their craft, writes Pradeep Magazine.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2008 22:38 IST

The Olympics come and go every four years and the Indians fill in the numbers to add weight to the saying, “they also serve who stand and wait”. For the next fortnight, we will celebrate all that is best in the world of sport and, at the same time, go glum and feel depressed at the performance of our own team, though this time around, better things are being predicted for us.

So, with hope in the heart and a prayer on the lips, let us wait for the fortnight to unfold and, in the meantime, focus on our national obsession called cricket.

The Indians continue to be unpredictable, winning when none expects them to and losing when none expects them to. In the end, it all balances out and we continue to flirt with greatness but fail to grasp it.

This time, we have been introduced to a new system which is meant to ensure that umpiring errors are limited and don’t cause any bad feelings between the two teams and against the men in white hats.

The referral system is conceptually very good if the technology assisting the eye is foolproof. The doubt always will be when an lbw decision is being scrutinised as has been the case in this series. The Indians have been at the receiving end of most of the referrals and there have been reports that players are not happy with some of the verdicts that went against them.

The Sri Lankans have had no such problems and their skipper Mahela Jayawardene has been spot-on most of the time in judging when to ask for a referral. A couple of decisions could have gone in favour of the Indian batsmen, like when Virender Sehwag was adjudged lbw to a ball which even Hawkeye could not tell for sure had pitched outside the line of leg-stump or not. Or when Samaraweera was given not out, though the replays indicated he was out.

But in most cases the right decision based on the technological evidence has been given and that is what should matter in the end. Just because the Indians have got more decisions against them should not be the yardstick to judge the referrals.

By cribbing even now, we could lend strength to those voices who say that the Indians only agree when things favour them. Sure, the system needs fine-tuning but on the evidence of what one has seen, it does seem to work.

The referrals could also force the players who may have nicked the ball to walk for fear of being exposed by the third umpire.

Men such as Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar must have known that they had got an edge when the umpire had given them not out. The referrals exposed them and in the Galle Test, Tendulkar was certain that he was wrongly given out lbw as he believed he had played the ball. He was shown to be wrong.

The lesson to be drawn from this is that it is always better to believe the umpire and not the players, however great they may be at their craft.