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Umpire Aleem Dar too is a victim

Dar’s umpiring only evened things out in the series and emphasised the importance of more use of technology, writes Atul Sondhi.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2007 23:04 IST
Atul Sondhi
Atul Sondhi
Hindustan Times

Staring down the barrel at 1-3 just a week ago, India were looking to stage a series recovery act thanks to a brilliant hundred plus partnership between Sachin and Sourav. At 162 for two after 30 overs at Headingley, India were looking for a run-feast in last twenty overs while England were looking for some luck and the fate looked like smiling on the hosts when off the first ball of the 31st over bowled by Monty Panesar, Yuvraj got a thick edge.

However, to the utter disbelief of every Englishman in the stadium, the man who mattered most -- the umpire -- did not to give him out.Yuvraj, then on ten, made full use of the glaring error and went on to add another 62 runs to his score at a tremendous strike rate of 132.After that lucky escape, he along with Gambhir and after that with Dhoni, added 104 partnership runs, which took India well past 300.

So, if technology could have helped India on Saturday, it would have certainly rescued England last Sunday. And if we consider their spirited reply at Headingley led by Collingwood when they made their runs at a rate of over six over, they would have sealed the series then and there itself.

In the end, good or bad umpiring evens it out in such a long series. One must remember that at Lord’s in July, worse LBW decisions had been given before Bucknor gave Sreesanth not out to a Panesar delivery which looked like hitting the stumps both to the naked eye as well as the hawk eye. Rain intervened on behalf of India just few balls later.One-nil for England after Lord’s and who knows how the Test series would have shaped! Much in the same way as one does not really know how the final ODI would have evolved had Sachin got a fair deal.Now, for a fair-match up, the most important thing is to have technological intervention in all decisions except LBWs. And in leg before decisions too, it can be used in cases where umpire is in doubt whether the ball has pitched outside the leg or not.If there has to be justice, it has to be justice for all. Not just an incidental poetic justice with a ‘’Pietersen recall’’ at the Lord’s followed by a ‘’Collingwood departure’’ at the Oval after umpiring goof-ups were witnessed on the big screen.

It certainly looks to be an absurd situation where we have umpires asking for TV replays to ensure if a fielder has grassed a catch, but not taking its assistance when there are doubts about an edge. Selective use can give unfair advantage in some cases.

Gavaskar may be right when he says technology is not foolproof. He says it gives you a fair estimate, but need not be entirely correct. Even great Roger Federer thinks the same way about players’ challenges.

Certainly, using it in ‘leg before’ decisions might end the matches in less than three days. However, using technology to judge snicks may lead to less heartburns, and certainly avoid those glaring mistakes as in Yuvraj’s and Sachin’s case.Certainly technology will not be accused of killing a contest unlike Dar’s decision. Probably, Sachin could have been recalled if there was provision for Umpire seeking the help of a snickometer. Errors from a machine, one fears, could be far more acceptable as they will not smell of partisanship.They cannot be entirely correct at times, but they need not be. Life after all, is all about reducing margins of error!

Poor Dar. It will be easy to pronounce him as ‘Darr’ by the Indian supporters. He is going to be remembered for long as a terminator, who spoiled the farewell party of Sachin and Rahul in England. But then, he is also a victim of the administrators’ reluctance to increase the use of more and more technology in a game, where so much money and honour is at stake.

First Published: Sep 09, 2007 22:39 IST