The Umpire Referral Process Is A Failure

And I wish we could just dismiss it as such, reform it as I said we should, and be done with the latest post-series rituals wherein: a losing team in a series that didn’t have the process available cries that had it been an option, they would not have lost; but a losing team in a series that did have the process available cries that it had not been an option, they would have won.

But the underlying problem has much more to do with larger, philosophical questions than a simple tinkering here and there. I’m not just talking about the traditionalist discourse of cricket — which argues that the game is, more than any other, about chance and fate, whereas modernists — drunk on human agency — think we can know everything.

There’s also the “truth” issue, that is, whether we can attain a semblance of objectivity in the human realm. On the one hand, we have people who argue for relativism, which dismisses a transcendental Truth as an earthly possibility (you say potato, I say potaato, etc.). On the other, we have old-school curmudgeons who say the Truth is out there, and we can get it (either through religion or our moral reasoning).

How does this very much butchered rendering of the debate pertain to cricket? For whatever reason, those pushing for technology seem to think we’ll have the answers as soon as it’s introduced. In many cases, they’re correct — it’s hard to argue with those white dots on Snick-o. But many times, they’re not — as we saw in the First Test between South Africa and England. Rather than ending the interpretive urge, camera replays only seem to propel them, and don’t get me started about Hawk-eye: just because that lovely red line may hit wickets, I’m not so sure the ball will.

So the modernists mistakenly think that the Truth is somehow always attainable here, and that they keep being let down should sound a note of caution. We could all just be pragmatists about it, and go along with what I’ve said before: let umpires review their own decisions if they’re unsure (and that too only about a particularly ambiguous aspect) and allow for a certain amount of fun and chance to still remain in the game. The goal here shouldn’t be to know definitively each time if each decision was accurate, but rather to keep cricket enjoyable, take pleasure in umpire cock-ups and decision debates and let things plod on.

Or as one famous pragmatist put it, “Take care of freedom, and truth will take care of itself.”

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3 thoughts on “The Umpire Referral Process Is A Failure

  1. Purna says:

    Interesting. But lately, too many dubios umpiring decisions have been ruining the game. I sincerely dislike it when Umpires/Referees make stupid calls. They are allowed to of course, but the frequency has been a little alarming.

  2. Wes says:

    Hello I saw your link over at Purna’s 😉

    “the-umpire-referral-process-is-a-failure”

    “allow for a certain amount of fun and chance to still remain in the game. The goal here shouldn’t be to know definitively each time if each decision was accurate, but rather to keep cricket enjoyable, take pleasure in umpire cock-ups and decision debates and let things plod on.”

    Yeah but this hasn’t changed at all since the introduction of the UDRS, in fact it adds so much excitement and hilarity to the game. I enjoy so much seeing the smoke coming out of the ears of the batsmen or captains over whether they should burn their last review or not. It is as great as the introduction of the powerplays, it adds tactical elements to the game, absolutely fantastic. And look how Australia won the final test… none of the devices indicated an edge (while others say it was inconclusive) but Roach still had to go. Only later on the umps said there was a sound heard via the stump mic. Isn’t this wonderful? It creates as much discussion about the ump’s decisions as before, but it adds the fact of a necessary tactical decision by the players. Look how guys like Stuart Broad handle the UDRS, it makes me laugh tears. I am telling you the UDRS is a bliss, I am its biggest fan 😀

    Cheers and Happy Holidays
    -Wes

  3. […] just about the merits of the URDS system (though it is, partially). It’s also about how the truth is “socially produced” — we have been told, again and again, that technology and science will lead to precise […]

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