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BLOG - ER Ramachandran

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Empower the Umpires!

It was an incredible test match at Perth which went down to the wire. But what about umpiring?

Much has been said about biased umpiring from Steve Bucknor and Benson.

Now are we going to hang Asad Rauf for his decisions against Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni? Should Aussies cry hoarse because of poor decisions against Symonds and Hussey in their second Innings?

What‘s the best solution to minimize the errors/ blunders/forcible decisions?

1. Do not differentiate between on-field umpires and Third Umpire. They should be made to work as a unit and as a rule they should consult as a group and give a decision. In a game of over 7 hours per day, there is no need to give an important decision in a few milliseconds or seconds! To expect that is preposterous considering they take more than 5 minutes for a drinks interval and more than a minute for a batsman to come to the crease and spend at least a minute to change ends and reset the field after each over.

2. In the interest of ‘correct’ decision, any umpire of the trio could disagree, especially the third umpire who has the benefit of technology, and in consultation of all the three, the decision should be handed over. All decisions should only be conveyed by the third Umpire thro’ ‘Out’ and ‘Not out’ displayed on the big screen.

3. If an Umpire misses a no ball, which the third umpire must always get, again, in the interest and correctness of the game he could intervene and reverse the decision. This would be very useful in situations when the batsman gets out (or given out) only to find the replay showing a no ball. The third umpire, after discussing with his colleagues can reverse a decision collectively.

4. The Third umpire should not be a ‘local’ umpire, but must be from the ICC elite panel of umpires. When we have, say, Aleem Dar, Billy Bowden and Simon Taufel as three umpires for a match there would be fewer mistakes.

5. In fact mistakes would be eliminated as you have ‘empowered’ the umpires by giving them the technology. They will be par with the ‘experts’ and the TV- spectators, as they watch the same video and take a decision. Now Umpires make their decisions in few milliseconds, and the experts watch it from all angles for around 15 minutes to condemn the umpires! The spectators watch that for days and make a decision whose effigies have to be burnt!

6 . The Prima donnas will feel the heat and cool down considerably. Decisions will be taken, without haste; if need be the Third umpire can come to the field with a hand held monitor and show to his colleagues and then take a ‘collective’ decision. No umpire will be vulnerable or a target of mob fury (This has happened for many years in West Indies!) as any decision is a result of combined thinking.

7. ICC can easily increase the panel of umpires as it is no more a matter of decision to be given in a tearing hurry by a great umpire. The team of umpires with expertise, experience and technology in hand will make a decision which will be far more accurate with facts and replays helping them in the decision.

8. The umpires can also wear microphones of military specs on them which will pick up whatever happens on the playing square. This will make lot of Australians ‘shut up’ and incidents like Symonds- Harbhajan’ will be a thing of the past.

When every new technology eventually becomes part of life making it easier why technology should be not given to the umpires which could help them to take correct decisions? With increasing commercialization , wrong decisions during critical stage of a match can indeed take the game away which is neither good for the sides playing the game, nor for the game and finally not for the paying spectator.

Even the Great Don Bradman blamed Darell Hair for starting a ‘distasteful’ controversy over bowling action of Muthiah Muralidharan in 1995-1996. Bradman wrote, ‘It was technically impossible for Umpire Hair to call from the Bowler’s end even once’. Bradman continued, ‘I believe Hair’s action – in one over- took the development of world cricket back by ten years’.

We are at a similar doorstep now.

It’s time technology plays an important role in modern cricket to help the umpires rather than watch the playback in slow motion to ridicule and hang them.


E.R. Ramachandran 20 January, ‘08


  • Billy Bowden when he toured India for the first time said in an interview and used the words "honest mistakes". As long as they make honest mistakes they are acceptable. But the players know in the centre who and when dishonest mistakes occur and they know the person who makes them. All of them make mistakes. Just like any player, umpires too have their 'off-colour day'. They get into focus because they are deciding factors. We tend to ignore such ones when an error has favoured our country, don't we? It has happened, and will keep on happening. And we should not think that all that happens are shown to us viewers. The studio is controlled by a Director upon whose instructions [the headphones the cameraman and also the ones operating in the studios wear are connected to him] pictures are released to the viewers. Many controversial decisions are never repeated on screen, esp. with the 'hawk eye' or the 'snicko' - these are upon such instructions. When the Director foresees a controversial issue [esp. in our country] he thwarts such pictures to the general public!

    Too much technology will surely spoil the thrills. Umpiring errors are part and parcel of the uncertainties in the game, which the players accept!! Why don't we withdraw a wrongly made appeal and recall the batsman? Many times, appeals go up instinctively, but after half a second everyone knows it was wrong. The action moves on! The umpire makes the wrong decision! So where are we? That is part of the thrill. If one is dishonest consistently, the laws of nature will take care of that character! The players know if that mistake was honest or not because they know the umpire as a person! Only if it is otherwise, the issue gets bloated and spills over everywhere. I agree that umpiring standards was at a low ebb, most unexpectedly in this series. If technology were to be required for each and every thing, then the umpire will not be required to stand in the centre. The giant screens can do all the work for him. The physical presence of the human umpire standing there at both ends, and controlling the game is a tradition that has meaning. Give him more powers.. not too much technical powers.. let him have the discretionary powers to take help or not. Nobody looks to make errors! They have their own evaluation panel to asses their performances too. Many umpires have said 'sorry' to the unfortunate player after the day and that shows how much he felt bad about that wrong decision.

    By Blogger Dinakar KR, at 9:53 AM  

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