The Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) – Needs Reviewing

Aswath BCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2010


The Umpire decision review system (UDRS) enables a team to challenge an Umpire’s decision in international cricket. Each of the two teams is allowed two unsuccessful challenges (and any number of successful challenges). Some believe that this system reduces umpiring errors. It does, if it is obvious, but it is also used to overturn some good ones.

The latest example was in the Sydney Test between Australia and Pakistan in January 2010 where Marcus North was given out LBW by Umpire Billy Doctrove. It was a very good decision indeed but Hawk eye showed that the ball would have gone just over the top of the stumps, and the decision was overturned! There was no way in this wide world that the ball could have gone over the top of the stumps in that instance, and I am sure those who saw it live on television would agree.

What impact will it have on the Umpires?

This could manipulate them into making wrong decisions. Probably, Mr. Doctrove would not give a similar LBW again though he was absolutely correct in making the right decision the first time.

This system takes away the power from the Umpires and the human element of the game is slowly declining. I strongly feel that the UDRS is not the way forward for leg before decisions. The Hawk eye can be used to enhance the viewing experience and not for anything more. It is highly inconclusive and the prediction of ball trajectory must be left to the Umpire. He must have the power to make the final decision. If each decision of his is going to be challenged and the benefit of the doubt keeps going to the batsman, what will the poor bowlers do?

Another big issue here is the reputation of the Umpire. When good correct decisions get overturned, it dents the Umpire’s confidence and it casts a doubt on his ability which is very wrong. Technology can be used to correct decisions that are blatantly wrong. The ‘Hot Spot’ can be used as an umpiring aid for faint nicks as it works on the friction generated between two surfaces, and this happens only when contact is established. Also, the third Umpire can be given the power to overrule the decision of the on-field Umpires if they get it obviously wrong (example: the ball pitches way outside leg stump and an LBW is given or when there is an obvious nick that the Umpire missed and so on).

The game needs a human element to it, the sport is a great leveler, sometimes you get good decisions and sometimes you don’t, but that is a part and parcel of this wonderful game. Close catches are anyway referred to the third Umpire and if LBWs are going to be judged based on Hawk Eye, why are the two Umpires standing on the field all day?

The Umpire Decision Review System needs some serious reviewing.