I’m glad the 2009 Ashes will not feature absurd third umpire-delays or gratuitous appeals no one thinks will be sustained. The problem of reconciling technology with tradition, however, refuses to go away in cricket and I wanted to take a brief stab at it here.
First, a primer 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 decisions and, quite frankly, even it were, I still wouldn’t support its use because I like the fallible-but-sovereign umpire figure. Yes, umpires change the course of the game, but while some think that’s unfair, I believe it’s in line with the spirit of cricket, which relies far more on chance and luck than other games (as Ashis Nandy argues in his brilliant book, The Tao of Cricket).