The Crotchet’s Corner

My perspective about all things inconsequential

Referrals? It’s diabolical…

In what is steadily becoming a batsman’s game, where pitches have lost their bite, bowlers are savaged by batsmen launching brutal assaults, and the paying public is rapidly deserting the traditional five-day format, one innovation has stirred up a hornet’s nest.


The ICC introduced the referral system in two series recently – Australia vs South Africa and West Indies vs England.


The fundamental objective was to remove umpiring howlers and provide for intervention by a third umpire using modern technology should things go wrong. Praiseworthy indeed.


But, as the system showed, the referral mechanism upheld the howlers and overturned the good ones!!!


It was not the technology provided that was the only element to blame. The guy watching in the referral room had as much of a role to play in making a mockery of what was, otherwise, a laudable intention.


Viewers of television have watched seen interesting technology such as Hawkeye, Snicko, Hi-Motion and Hot Spot being made use of on their screens.


What was provided to the referral umpire was just one small part of the technology available. In a variant of Hawkeye, the umpire was privy to the path of the ball upto and until it was at the position of the bat. It was up to the umpire to guess what would happen then on. Hawkeye has its critics who say that it cannot accurately predict because the trajectory, which is not a parabola, depends on bounce of pitch, the symmetry of the ball, the position of its seam, weather conditions, the bowler’s ability to induce late swing, etc.


Fair enough, but if the intention is to get the thing right, why not go whole hog and give the umpire full access to whatever is currently available? Why not add Hot Spot and Snicko?


In the process of using this technology, the system, in a sense, downgrades the on-field umpire, who is, sometimes, made to look foolish.


The recent matches also showed that the referral umpires gave some decisions that were diabolical, to say the least.


The way referrals were made by the players was also a joke, and it was evident that they used a game plan to nix the system. The fact is that if a batsman is out, he knows most of the time, and his body language says so. And, this is what great umpires also watch for.


Use TV replays to determine run outs and stumpings, and, perhaps, even the aspect of whether catches were taken cleanly.


But, if referrals are used to decide on possible dismissals such as lbw’s and caught behinds, give the umpire as much technology that is currently available, and consciously work towards improving and upgrading that technology.


If not, leave it to the on-field umpire. The system worked well for a century, and players of an earlier era accepted that the law of averages would ensure that things eventually evened out. You win some, you lose some.


But, in today’s cricket world that has so much at stake in terms of money, that spirit has all but disappeared.


An Adam Gilchrist might have walked, but most wouldn’t.


March 12, 2009 - Posted by | About this and that, Cricket | , , , ,

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