The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ex-players, umpires divided on scope of leg-before referrals

Calcutta, Nov. 2: Rahul Dravid’s controversial leg-before dismissal in both innings of the final Test against the West Indies has opened a pandora’s box.

Should the third umpire’s role be extended by the International Cricket Council (ICC) in Test matches' The debate raged at the Eden Gardens Saturday.

The Telegraph spoke to a few international umpires (listed alphabetically) and opinions seemed to be varied.

ALOKE BHATTACHARYA: Never refer leg-before decisions to the third umpire. Then what is the use of having a human being out in the middle'

The ICC should rather look into the reasons behind such mistakes by the umpires. With just eight men standing in all Test matches, the umpires are stretched to the maximum both physically and mentally. It plays havoc on concentration and the quality suffers.

BHAIRAB GANGULY: If the umpire in the middle has any doubt while deciding on a leg-before — be it a bat-pad call or whether the ball pitched in line of the leg stump — he should be given the liberty to consult the third umpire. Any controversy that may arise during the course of a match can then be averted.

Another thing that the ICC should immediately look into is increasing the number of umpires in the international panel. By restricting it to only eight, the ICC is depriving the umpires of adequate rest. This leads to a loss of concentration which may play havoc in deciding the course of a game or the career of a cricketer.

RAM BABU GUPTA: The role of the third umpire should be restricted to deciding on whether the ball pitched outside the leg stump. The ICC should not extend it any further.

If the umpire is given the option of seeking an opinion on whether the ball had touched the bat on way to the pad in deciding a leg-before verdict, then everytime there is an appeal for a bat-pad catch, the third eye will also come into the picture. Why then have an umpire'

If the umpire commits a mistake because of this, it should be taken as part of the game.

SUBROTO POREL: The invasion of the third eye will mean restricting the human angle and the umpire’s role is spoiled.

If that means jeopardising players’ careers, then let only umpires with a track record of minimum errors be considered for the elite panel.

In employing the third eye to leg-before decisions, some amount of charm will be lost from the game. It will become too mechanical. The help of the third umpire was taken during the ICC Champions Trophy in Colombo and restricted to deciding on balls pitched outside the leg stump.

I did not feel comfortable with the idea even in a one-day game and in Tests, it’s an absolute no-no.

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