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What’s wrong with the referral system?

Daksh Panwar<br> Tendulkar went on to fall to dubious leg-before decisions in the two matches that followed,and the streak ended only when he decided to sit out in the next.

Written by Daksh Panwar |
February 9, 2009 12:06:13 pm

On January 28,former spinner Kumar Dhramasena claimed Sachin Tendulkar’s prized wicket on his umpiring debut,adjudging the batsman lbw when the ball had pitched outside leg stump. The very next day,the International Cricket Council (ICC) decided to reduce the number of appeals to two in the referral system,which is waiting to be implemented full-time despite being first put to use eight months ago.

Tendulkar went on to fall to dubious leg-before decisions in the two matches that followed,and the streak ended only when he decided to sit out in the next.

In the Caribbean,where the system is being tested currently in the England-West Indies Test series,Ramnaresh Sarwan benefited twice from it. He isn’t fan of using this technology,”but,I’ll take it today,” he said after ending the day on unbeaten 74.

Things didn’t go his team’s way,but England’s wicketkeeper Matt Prior was a lot more enthusiastic about referrals. “Everyone makes mistakes. If umpires make mistakes it’s not because they are trying to. But if a wrong decision can be changed,so be it.”

Technology isn’t fool-proof,but it can reduce the margin of error,and a busy international calendar does tend to take its toll on the standard of umpiring. The ICC elite panel has a limited number of umpires,shuttling from one part of the world to the other,and it’s hardly a surprise the number of mistakes is shooting up.

And if the referral system can help,why there’s so much noise against it,even from players? Having lost the second Test to the West Indies,New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori had criticized the referral system because Brendon McCullum fell to it at a critical juncture. He,in fact,called for number of appeals to be reduced to only one.

It’s really strange. You can’t criticize the umpire,even if he’s wrong,because it’ll give you a fine or perhaps a ban. But you can conveniently blame technology. Meanwhile,the debate rages on.

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