Monday, January 07, 2008

Time for Introspection

Every sport wrestles with the idea of bringing about change, because it is the tendency of man to do so. But there comes a point where one has GOT to move on. Technology was first brought in to assist umpires in 1992. While the purists have always looked at it with a sense of cynicism, the question one needs to ask is this: Would using technology reduce chances of players being hard-done? If yes, there should not be a second thought to making use of it whenever necessary.

The recent calls for implementing a referral system have met with stiff resistance from those who feel:

1.It undermines the authority of the umpire.
2.There should always be a human element to the game.
3.Technology isn't 100% foolproof.

To them, I would like to say this: The wheel wasn't invented to belittle man's inability to travel faster, it was invented to help him ease the burden. It is also ineffective on snow/ice/water. It's been centuries since the invention took place, and I don't think people walk with any less dexterity than they did prior to the invention.

The second test between India and Australia has led to more calls for a referral system, and I would like to suggest the framework for it based on my limited understanding of the game.

1.Each side to have 3 challenges per innings. The team issuing a challenge retains it if it is successful, otherwise they lose it.
2.Challenges to be issued by on-field players ONLY.
3.On-field umpires to adjudicate on every decision.
4.Third umpire can be called into action ONLY when a side uses one of its challenge.
5.Use of hotspot to aid the third umpire. Hawkeye and Snickometer to be discontinued from television coverage.

Points 2,3 and 4 ensure the human element to the sport is not lost, as

  • The players wouldn't have access to technology to know if they should issue a challenge.
  • The on-field umpires would be required to be alert at all times as they cannot fall back on the third umpire.
  • The third umpire has access to the best technology to deliver the correct decision.
You can be sure there will still be instances like the Symonds stumping being administered, but you can also be sure of the frequency of those would be a lot less than what it is now. The current plight of the ICC Umpires is because they're not sure to what extent they should embrace technology. Once the decision to invoke technology is out of their hands, they will have to solely concentrate on giving their own decisions, and this would only lead to them honing their skills a lot more sharply than they do now, which is what we would all like to see.