Umpire Reform And Technology

Occasional cricket blogger Norm Geras offers a limited case for using technology in cricket umpiring. He first notes that umpiring mistakes haven’t historically mattered (indeed, he says, they contributed to the game’s greatness), but now, when technology is readily available, it’s silly not to use it. Some guidelines:

[It] has to be used intelligently. In some areas – line decisions (run outs, stumpings) – it already has improved things. In other areas – whether a low catch has been cleanly made – the camera sometimes creates rather than removes doubt. As to lbw, Hawk-Eye should perhaps be allowed to ‘correct’ the standing umpire when it shows either plumb lbw or the ball missing the wicket, but not in the case of anything more marginal. […]

The system of giving the players an extra but limited right of referral, to challenge first-round decisions, is crazy. It allows some bad decisions to be challenged but not others, and therefore not necessarily the worst ones. For every appeal the umpires should be able to decide on the basis of all of the evidence available to them.

While regular readers know I’ve never been a fan much of technology, I did propose reform along these same lines. Keep the umpire in control, allow him — really, can’t we have a her as an umpire soon? — to refer to the third umpire as to what doubt he needs assuaged. More suspense, better rhythm.


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