Time to give TV umpires a bigger role

ALSO SEE: Give the umpires a break

The job of a referee or umpire in any sport is, to say the least, thankless. And now that the Decision Review System (DRS) is in the news after England’s narrow victory in the first Ashes Test, the men in white coats are under more scrutiny than ever before.

The latest round in the debate began with Stuart Broad choosing not to walk after edging one that was caught at slip via the wicketkeeper and not given out.

Die-hard Aussie supporters insist this one decision has set the tone and tenor for the series, though I beg to differ.

Tests are all about playing hard cricket and how intensely a team competes. And at this point of time, it makes for sad viewing when one sees the Aussies fare so poorly with Michael Clarke unable to inspire his mates.

I am convinced the DRS will stay in the news for a long time, even after the end of the Ashes series. We know how much heat the DRS debate generates since the Board of Control for Cricket in India considers it to be not quite 100 per cent foolproof.

Agreed, it is not always 100 per cent right but rather than shutting off the DRS, we need to look at options which can help improve the decisions made by the umpires.

As of now, teams are allowed two reviews each per innings and it is inadequate. Today, when you see a wrong decision being given by the on-field umpire in a Test, he comes under immediate scrutiny thanks to the replays made available to the commentators by TV producers and he becomes the butt of criticism.

In the current scenario, the TV umpire reviews decisions when the on-field umpire seeks some confirmation. For the better implementation of DRS, I would suggest the TV umpire gets access to the replays straightaway so that he can play a bigger, proactive role.

It would be best if the men who run world cricket give the TV umpire the right to speak to the on-field umpires in certain instances if something is wrong.

I am reminded of the infamous Zinedine Zidane head-butt in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final. The French star felled Italy’s Marco Materazzi but the referee’s decision to show him the red card was the result of some smart work done by the fourth official.

He spotted Zidane’s indiscretion and asked the referee to stop the game and give the Frenchman the right reprimand. I am sure cricket’s TV umpires should be able to step in, especially when it is apparent that their on-field colleagues have made a wrong decision.

Clearly, the pressure which the men in the middle face today is very intense and umpire bashing is easy. At least on an experimental basis, if the TV umpire is allowed to step in and communicate on his own, things can get better.

I know at this point of time it may sound blasphemous that an umpire sitting in front of a TV “ takes calls” and communicates with umpires in the middle. If we are to get over the fixation that DRS is some kind of evil and incomplete technology, more bold steps like these have to be taken.

Yes, there will be initial condemnation for this suggestion as people are already talking about too many interruptions in cricket and how technology is killing the human element.

In my view, the human element has already been killed and umpires who try and do an honest job are being riled and ridiculed. In the old days, when Pakistani umpires stood in the middle, the Englishmen joked they were competing against not 11 but 13! Today, it is not about bias but about improving the accuracy of decision- making.

Technology and sport have become inseparable. Today, in top tennis events, the chair umpire, already being assisted by line umpires, is under constant scrutiny. HawkEye technology has worked well when a player can ask for a review, especially with an ace being hit or a forehand kissing the paint.

As it is, interest in Test cricket is dwindling. And for all those who think there are too many interruptions, be assured if the TV umpire is empowered to watch replays and step in as he deems fit, it will only lead to more faith in the DRS technology.

What happened in the Stuart Broad incident is something which could have been eliminated had the TV umpire been given the power to talk to the onfield umpire and tell him that a TV-assisted review would be in order. The umpire has little chance of escape when he makes a poor decision. Why not give him a chance to get better? The teams will also not have reason to be agitated. Yes, it is time for technology to be used in improving the decision- making.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

As much as Pietersen's availability is a boost, the loss of a potent death bowler might sting Delhi badly. More »

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Mumbai have explosive hitters down the order in the form of Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard, but the lack of contributions from them has compounded their… More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan, who has been replaced by the court as board president, was named the BCCI's representative to the ICC last September. However, that position… More »

Brilliant Maxwell powers Punjab’s renaissance

Brilliant Maxwell powers Punjab’s renaissance

Maxwell has easily been the best player on display in the first nine days, with scores of 95, 89 and 95 helping Punjab shed their image of also-rans and… More »

Indian cricket is now dope-free

Indian cricket is now dope-free

The BCCI conducted over 200 dope tests during senior domestic tournaments in the just-ended 2013-14 season – the largest number of tests done by an ICC… More »

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

England's new assistant coach Paul Farbrace admitted that it was impossible turn down the job even though he will have mixed feelings when he faces… More »

Atapattu likely to be SL interim coach

Atapattu likely to be SL interim coach

Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya issued the strongest indication yet that Marvan Atapattu would be appointed coach for the tour of Ireland… More »

T20 is all about the little things: Balaji

T20 is all about the little things: Balaji

Balaji acknowledged Maxwell’s role in Punjab’s great start to season seven, but he insists that the efforts of other players like Virender Sehwag, among… More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

Mudgal panel drops bombshell in court

The Mukul Mudgal probe committee dropped a bombshell in the Supreme Court on Tuesday by making a sensational claim that it was forced to stop audio recording… More »