Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar has called for the contentious ‘Umpire’s Call’ in the Decision Review System (DRS) to be scrapped altogether, terming it as ambiguous, harsh and unfair on players.
What is Umpire’s Call?
‘Umpire’s Call’ is used when the DRS essentially gives the ‘benefit of the doubt’ to the on-field decision in case of inconclusive technological evidence. When less than 50% of the ball is hitting the stumps, excluding the bails, as per the ball-tracking technology, it’s the umpire’s call. Teams, however, don’t lose out on their reviews if it is used in the final decision.
Why is Sachin opposed to it?
Sachin reckons that the concept is flawed and argued that if the ball is hitting the stumps, even marginally, during the ball-tracking segment of the DRS, it should be given out. “One thing I don’t agree with, with the ICC, is the DRS they’ve been using for quite some time. It is the LBW decision where more than 50% of the ball must be hitting the stumps for the on-field decision to be overturned. The only reason they (the batsman or the bowler) have gone upstairs is because they are unhappy with the on-field decision, so when the decision goes to the third umpire, let the technology take over; just like in Tennis – it’s either in or out, there’s nothing in between,” he said in a video chat with West Indies legend Brian Lara.
What’s the tennis analogy that Sachin is referring to?
Sachin was referring to Hawk Eye that Tennis uses to examine where the ball has landed. But unlike cricket, tennis does not use percentages to determine whether the ball is in or out. Even if the ball is in by a fraction, it’s deemed ‘in’ by umpires.
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Has anyone else voiced their reservations on the Umpire’s Call?
In the past, former Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne, too had expressed displeasure on the Umpire’s call. Like Sachin, Warne reckoned that if the ball is hitting the stumps, it should just be given out and no on-field decision should be considered. Harbhajan Singh, the former India off-spinner also concurred with Sachin’s views. “Agree with you Paji 1000 percent correct. If the ball is touching the stump or kissing the Stumps it should be given out. It does not matter how much part of the ball hit the wicket..few rules should b changed in the game for the betterment of the game..this is certainly 1 of those,” Harbhajan tweeted. In the past, a raft of current and former players had termed it a ‘grey area’ in DRS.
So, what’s this grey area in an Umpire’s Call?
For a batsman to be given out lbw in DRS, the ball-tracking segment has to show more than 50 per cent of the ball hitting the wicket-zone. The wicket-zone is the area between the off and leg stump. Now, if less than 50 per cent of the ball is hitting this wicket-zone, that’s when the Umpire’s Call will be made and the on-field umpire’s decision will stand.
If the umpire had given it out, a batsman would have been given out, and if he had adjudged in favour of the batsman that also would be applicable depending on the circumstances an umpire’s call was taken. So for the same ball tracking prediction, there were two different decisions possible. This is the grey area that players were objecting to.