Most of us watching the Delhi Daredevils take on the Deccan Chargers at Hyderabad, found the proceedings to be bizarre. I had never witnessed something so awkward, at least till this one.
Daredevils' spinner Yogesh Nagar got a wicket, the on-field umpire checked with the third umpire if Nagar had overstepped, and he was spot on. Nagar had indeed overstepped. The batsman got a reprieve. The sequence was repeated after a few deliveries and the on-field umpire got it right again.
While it's good to ask for assistance from the third umpire, I'm wary about this incident. How come only the deliveries the spinner claimed wickets with were referred?
It seems too good a coincidence that all of the regular deliveries were deemed legal. What are the odds of the umpire, who isn't 100% certain about the bowler's front foot twice in four deliveries, of getting it right all the time?Some may argue that the reason of not referring harmless balls is to avoid unnecessary delays. But aren't strategic time-outs and DRS referrals already doing the same? And is it fair to ignore obvious errors to ensure that the game remains fast paced?
While efforts have been made to eradicate errors, this aspect of umpiring seems to have slipped under the radar. We have seen that the DRS, if used judiciously, has taken care of most of the howlers and if the ICC is to be believed, the accuracy has been over 99%.
Whenever a decision is referred to the third umpire, the first thing he checks is if the ball was a legal delivery.
Now, that does eliminate the obvious error but that is only if the decision is a dubious one, for a batsman is not going to make a T-sign unless he thinks he isn't out.
And there's no way for the batsman to know that the bowler may have overstepped when he has indeed nicked it to the wicketkeeper.
Lighten the load
While the DRS seems to be a never ending debate, one still requires state-of-the-art technology to make optimum use of the facility.
To make the DRS more accurate, one would need the Hotspot and snicko-meter everywhere, which we are told, is not possible for all games.
But what can be done, to make the job of the on-field umpire easier, is to take the responsibility of adjudging the no-ball for overstepping away from him.
How about trusting technology to judge every single delivery for overstepping and informing the players if the ball isn't legal?
Right now the umpire must look down at the bowler's foot to see if he's overstepping and then, must look up and focus on the ball. Why not depend on technology now that it is available?