England Cricket

To Refer Or Not To Refer?

KINGSTON, JAMAICA - FEBRUARY 06:  Umpire Tony Hill signals for a referal a  referral during day three of the 1st Test between The West Indies and England played at Sabina Park on February 6, 2009 in Kingston, Jamaica  (Photo by Julian Herbert/Getty Images)
Steven WoodgateCorrespondent IMarch 20, 2009

To refer or not to refer? That is one question that is causing much debating in the Cricket circuit and on recent evidence there do not seem a point.

When you throw your mind back, umpires used to the best judges and the standard of umpiring has been diminishing since the inclusion of TV replays and this referral nonsense.

Before TV replays umpires had to make the difficult choice, their own eyes and initiative where there only point of protocol and on a whole, decisions were better assessed if though may have not been the correct one. Players respected the decision and there was not point in disputing the decision.

The decision was solely on them, they had to make the hard decision, as there was no other way. It was down to them, now with the influx of technology they don’t have to make that difficult decision. Technology should be embraced nevertheless but it needs a clear and defined system in place that works and that can be implemented in all forms of professional cricket.

The inclusion of TV replays has certainly helped to make more right decisions, even though it causes minor disruptions and delays. The third umpire is only there just to make sure that the decision was fully correct or if the umpire missed a close decision.

But this referral fiasco has hindered the flow of cricket and has caused more talking points than anything.

The referral system works particularly well in Tennis, as there is a key indication that the ball is either in or out, there is no two ways about it. Cricket has too many factors for it to be as clear as that.

On reflexion on the West Indies test it is something that the game really could do without. Fortunately for all cricket lovers, the International Cricket Council (ICC) is to assess the controversial new system in May but who knows what that will bring.

Big names in cricket including South African Captain Graeme Smith and Australia Captain Ricky Pointing have both declared their dismay for the system as both would like to see the idea of eradicating really bad decisions but the current system in place leaves a lot to be desired.

The current system of two challenges per innings are allowed as the TV official can use pictures and some of the available Hawkeye Technology.

There was a half-hearted attempt to use the referral system in the Friends Provident Trophy and it was frankly embarrassing. In the end, the captains agreed not to make referrals, and the umpires alike shook hands to protect their fraternity.

No doubt it will be back in county cricket sooner or later, and as much as the cricket purists wishes the system will not be going away.

International Test cricket is pinnacle of cricket and the exposure of the system should have not been highlighted in such an awkward way. It should have went through extensive tests in county cricket before it was inflicted on the main arena but the eagerness of the ICC to make cricket more fashionable prevented common sense as teething problems will always be apparent.

This evidently will be a vital part of the future in cricket but at the moment the future looks a little hazy.

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