The Bad Decisions Against Brendon McCullum and Tim Southee

Here’s what I don’t get: during matches where no umpire referrals are allowed, we notice a slew of decisions that available technology easily proves were wrong. Take Brendon McCullum and Tim Southee, who were both given out dubiously while trying to save the Test against India (truth be told, I doubt they could have done much had they stayed, but whatever, it’s the principle that counts). HotSpot and Snick-o compellingly cleared them.

But during a number of matches where umpire referrals are in play, we’ve seen over and over again how frustrating technology can be. Third umpires have regularly deferred to the onfield umpire because the evidence was not compelling enough; batsmen or bowlers have not referred decisions they should have; third umpires have made glaring errors even when the evidence overcomes the burden; decisions can take five minutes or more to come out.

How do we address this gap? Some argue that the problem resides in the appeal process. Rather than give either side two correct referrals, on-field umpires should treat close calls as they currently do with run-out situations. That is, if they can’t decide, or if they want to check a particular matter (did it pitch in line, e.g.), they can ask the third umpire themselves.

I’m not sure. I’ve seen enough matches to notice umpires that always call on the third umpire when a run-out appeal is on, simply because they want to play it safe. A possibly better system might give the third umpire the initiative, allowing him or her to intervene when he thinks a bad decision has been given.

I still believe, however, that the potential benefits of the referral system do not outweight the costs. It’s not just that I’m a traditionalist, or that I like the drama and angst of a known bad decision. I just don’t think technology is a cure-all. It’s just wrong to think, “Argh! If only we had referrals, none of this would have happened.”

One thought on “The Bad Decisions Against Brendon McCullum and Tim Southee

  1. […] on third umpire referrals. Regular readers know I’m a traditionalist when it comes to this problem. I don’t think technology is an elixir that will immediately remove all erroneous umpire […]

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