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Umpires apprehensive about new rule

Steve Bucknor and David Shepherd, the two longest-serving umpires, are apprehensive about the new no-ball rule that will come into play.
PTI | By Ashish Shukla (PTI), Amsterdam
UPDATED ON AUG 21, 2004 06:02 PM IST

Steve Bucknor and David Shepherd, the two longest-serving umpires in international cricket, are apprehensive about the new no-ball rule that will come into play in the tri-series in Amsterdam.

According to the experimental rule, the no-ball calls will be made by the third umpire sitting in the box beyond the boundary rather then the two men in white coats supervising the game in the middle.

"I have never stood in a game in which I have not had to call a no-ball," said David Shepherd ahead of the opening match between India and Pakistan at the VRA ground on Saturday.

The same is the case with Steve Bucknor who said it would be hard to resist the temptation to thrust out the arm when a bowler oversteps the bowling crease.

Bucknor has so far stood in 91 Tests and 121 One-Day Internationals in a 16-year career. Shepherd has been around for 82 Tests and 157 One-Day Internationals and now is in his 20th year.

Bucknor, in particular, is fearing the repeat of his first goof-up when the biggest technological revolution yet was introduced in the early 90s during the India-South Africa friendship series in South Africa.

"It was a game in which the Indians appealed for a run-out against Jonty Rhodes and I, relying on my instincts, said it not out, steadfastly refusing to refer to the matter to the third umpire. The television evidence of course was contrary to my presumption," said Bucknor.

Bucknor then cast his eyes at the whole gamut of innovations being tried out in cricket and said the one he was waiting for was the ear plugs being provided to the umpires to hear the snicks from a bat's edge — an innovation which would be on in the Champions Trophy in England next month.

"That is something which would be of real help. There is so much of noise at the ground that it's not always possible to hear a snick," he said.

Even though Bucknor acknowledges that umpires have long suffered in having just a split second to make a ruling on a no-ball and a leg-before decision simultaneously on a delivery, he would rather have such decision being left to umpires alone.

"I would still have the game run by human beings. A lot of it is instinct. Suppose if a line is being drawn between the stumps to help you out on a leg before decision, it still might not mean much. Some balls are bowled so fast you just can't see it completely," said Bucknor.

On the talk to have a beam affixed to the umpire's cap so that he is sure about the line the ball is pitching, Bucknor again would rather have nothing to do with it.

"I for one, always mark the place where I stand behind the wicket. If a bowler likes to bowl too close to the stumps, I stand back but never move out from the center of that line," said Bucknor.

Third umpire Jeremy Lloyds, who has to make all the no-ball rulings sitting in the TV box, is worried too.

"The thing is the cameras at the ground are placed square at the two sides of the wicket. I am only worried what happens when the bowler is bowling over the wicket and the non-striker has grounded his bat. My vision is then blocked," said Lloyds.

Another issue which the umpires are fearing is when a batsman gets out to a no-ball. The batsman would be walking towards the pavilion and he could then be recalled as it could be a no-ball!

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