Disappointing Umpiring

The recent cricket test match between Australia and India would be in limelight for quite a few reasons.

Andrew Symonds has alleged that Harbhajan Singh abused him – racially. Then there were numerous places where umpiring went wrong. Very wrong. And for some strange reason India was at the receiving end in all these decisions. Field umpires can make mistakes, they are under stress from players and appeals and crowds but what about television umpire? Any mistakes that they make are unacceptable. In this particular test match, there have been at least 7 decisions that went against India.

To err is human and umpires are humans after all. There can’t really be a foolproof way to umpire cricket matches. On this Sunday morning, how about discussing how to improve the standards of umpiring?

Take a cue form Tennis. Players can contest one or two (don’t know the exact number) umpires’ decision (could be line calls, could be service calls etc) with the referee. Referee looks at the replay and has the power to overrule the umpire’s call. In cricket, allow captains to contest a fixed number of umpire decisions with the match referee. Match referee would have the power to over rule this decision.

Match referee would become a sort of match godfather. For all practical purposes, he still is the godfather. This is yet another power being vested with him.

The game would be interrupted for few minutes when the match referee looks at the replays and decides on the decision. The delays are norm with the television replay decisions anyways. Waiting for a few minutes to improve the standard of the game is worth the wait.

Umpires might argue that their authorities would be diminished. They might get offended if a decision is overruled. ICC needs to decide which is larger and more important – umpires and their egos or the game.

Captains and players should be happy and can use this contesting power judicially. For example if Australian team doubts that Rahul Dravid has indeed nicked a ball to the wicketkeeper and umpire has ignored their appeal, and they think Rahul Dravid is a key player, they can contest.

Any more solutions?

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