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ICC no-ball trial sparks debate

The ICC has planned trials that may empower television umpires to be the sole adjudicators of front-foot no-balls

By Sayak Banerjee in Calcutta
  • Published 8.08.19, 2:51 AM
  • Updated 8.08.19, 2:51 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Cricket’s governing body, the ICC, will identify a number of limited-overs series over the next six months, where the TV umpire will directly call the no-ball if a bowler oversteps. www.icc-cricket.com

The ICC has planned trials that may empower television umpires to be the sole adjudicators of front-foot no-balls.

Cricket’s governing body will identify a number of limited-overs series over the next six months, where the TV umpire will directly call the no-ball if a bowler oversteps.

This move by the ICC has triggered a debate, with former Elite Panel umpire Daryl Harper commenting that over-dependence on technology may eventually make on-field umpires “redundant.”

“If the ICC goes on to implement this, I am wondering if the on-field umpires are going to be required to do anything at all. They will still need someone to hold the bowler’s hat and his jumper though,” a sarcastic Harper told The Telegraph from Adelaide on Wednesday.

“Personally, I will be disappointed if that duty (of calling a front-foot no-ball) goes to the third umpire. They have experimented with it before, but as I said, I will be disappointed if the on-field umpires lose that aspect of their duty. They are in a very difficult situation.

“But on most occasions, I feel the on-field umpires get these calls right. However, if the ICC decides to go down the technology line, they are eventually going to make umpires redundant on the field,” the 67-year-old Australian remarked.

The system has been on trial earlier and used in the ODI series between England and Pakistan in 2016. But the ICC wants it to be tried out on a larger scale.

“The cricket committee recommended that we do it in all ODIs and T20Is… We just need to understand all the challenges before implementing this across all matches,” ICC general manager (cricket operations) Geoff Allardice told Espncricinfo.

Not just cricket, even other games like football and tennis have sought technology’s assistance to reduce the errors committed inadvertently by the referee and the chair umpire.

In last year’s Fifa World Cup in Russia, the VAR was used extensively while Premier League clubs too agreed to introduce the system from this season. The debatable calls in tennis matches are referred to the Hawk-Eye (line-calling system), which is used in all Grand Slams.

The ICC’s plan gets a thumbs up from some. “It’s worth a try. Technology can help in betterment of the game,” said former India batsman Arun Lal.

“It all depends on effective implementation. Yes, one might have a doubt over the matter, but the objective is to minimise the errors as much as possible. Besides, it’s not sacrosanct that on-field umpires have to be doing each and everything.”