Thursday, June 16, 2016

Let's reduce the work load of Umpires!

Cricket has changed so much in last 20 years. In the early 90s, we couldn't have imagined teams chasing a score of 300 and now even a score of 400 runs look so small. With the inception of T20 cricket, things have changed further. Batsmen are swinging their bats either ways to connect and take the ball out of the park. They are hitting unusual shots like reverse sweeps, upper cuts and scoops! Bowlers might have been suffered more in last two decades due to batting friendly conditions and rules, they have become smart in terms of containing the batsmen. The game of cricket is becoming tougher and competitive day by day.

With loads of changes in the great game of cricket, comes a lot of pressure on players as well as umpires. A bowler runs in, bowls a delivery at a speed of 150 kilometers per hour, within a split of the second the batsman tries to hit it and a small edge lands the ball in the gloves of wicket keeper. The whole process ends within a second. An umpire has to take care of so many things. First of all he has to check whether the batsman is ready or not. Then he has to keep an eye on the front foot of the bowler. This is followed by whether the ball pitches in line with the stumps or it lands outside the off. There is always a possibility of an LBW appeal and hence the umpire has to check this for each and every delivery. In a jam packed stadium with so much noise, the umpire also has to pay very minute attention to the edges. There could be a caught behind appeal anytime!

Similarly once this whole action ends, there could be a chance of a run out too! Thankfully we saw the inclusion of 'Third Umpires' who would take care of the run out appeals through TV replays. And the tradition continues from more than two decades. Just for the reference of cricket fans, Sachin Tendulkar was the first ever batsman to be declared run out by a third umpire. This happened in a test match against South Africa in November 1992.

But there are many other challenges the umpires are facing in the modern game of cricket that has been full of pressure cooker situation. Recently there has been incidents where the umpires have misjudged the no-balls and the batsmen survived even after being out. One of those incidents took place at the Lord's during the final test between England and Sri Lanka.

It is high time to think about awarding the no-ball decisions to the third umpire. Let the third umpires work a bit harder apart from sipping some cold drinks. Anyhow the on field umpires are checking for no balls on almost all dismissals. Let they pay more attention to what happens after the bowler has delivered the ball rather than first having a look at the bowler's front foot and then the further action.

More fundamental reforms in the no-ball rule seems complicated. Infact logically the rule seems fine. But some sort of relief for the on-field umpires in this game of cricket which was never saw quick and umpire decisions were never so scrutinized. 

As we all know one wrong decision can change the whole course of the game. Just imagine if anything as such happens in the last over of a World Cup Final. This can receive so much of scrutiny. While we are already in the modern elite cricket world of Hawk Eyes and Snickometers, let there be some technology in place where the on field umpires are relieved from making calls for the no-balls.

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