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ICC Cricket Committee to endorse 'Umpire's call'

The 'umpire's call' is a distinct advantage given to the umpires during the Decision Review System, especially for leg-before calls. However, it has all of late. Meanwhile, the International Cricket Council continues to back the call, deeming that technology is not 100% accurate.

ICC Cricket Committee to endorse 'Umpire's call'-ayh
Dubai - United Arab Emirates, First Published Mar 24, 2021, 2:57 PM IST
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When it comes to the Decision Review System in cricket, especially during the leg-before calls, the one distinct feature is the 'umpire's call'. While some term the call as valid, some raise questions on it.

What is 'umpire's call'?
During lbw decisions that are reviewed, if the ball hitting the stumps is less than 50%, the decision stands with the umpire, who can either rule it out or not out. The same is the case for the point of impact.

The issue
Of late, there have been issues regarding the understanding of the call. At times, even close calls are deemed 'umpire's call', leaving the teams frustrated and fans baffled. Indian skipper Virat Kohli had recently said that the original law does not state the amount of ball to be hitting the stumps. He also feels that there should not be any debate on it and a standard out or not out should be applicable for lbw DRS calls.

The same was discussed by the Cricket Committee of the International Cricket Council over a virtual meeting earlier this month, headed by Anil Kumble, along with Andrew Strauss, Rahul Dravid, Mahela Jayawardene and Shaun Pollock. The committee also had umpires like Richard Illingworth and Mickey Arthur, along with match referee Ranjan Madugalle. Also, the broadcasters and Hawk-Eye (ball tracking) technology supplier was present.

After a series of discussions, it was decided that the 'umpire's call' decision had to stay, mainly because the technology was not 100% foolproof, reports ESPNCricinfo. The same was discussed in February at the Marylebone Cricket Club, the original law-makers, with many voting in favour of the 'umpire's call'. Meanwhile, ICC also plans on coming up with a detailed and easy structure to explain the same to the players and fans.

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Recent stats
In the Test series involving India and England last month, 65 reviews were made, with 53 being struck down. Among those 53, while 37 were unsuccessful reviews, 16 happened to be ruled as 'umpire's call'.

It remains to be seen how the Board of Control for Cricket in India reacts to the same. Notably, BCCI was the last to introduce the DRS after a prolonged protest against the technology, deeming it not 100% accurate. Nonetheless, it was only possible after the Kumble-led ICC committee and engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explained the entire concept to the board.

Newsable's analysis
As per our analysis, the ICC is correct in saying that the Hawk-eye is not 100% conventional. Furthermore, it is to be noted that although the ball-tracking feature could be nearly perfected, it is yet debatable, as the technology hardly takes into account the wind speed, which could also play a factor in the ball hitting the stumps. Thus, the 'umpire's call' stands valid as per the above analysis.

However, if technology has to take over, it should be done so in its entirety rather than dilute it with human intelligence. ICC should learn from the Hawk-eye used in tennis, where the closest of margins decide whether the ball was out or in, with the players hardly protesting. Similarly, in football, the goal-line technology rules it entirely as a goal if the ball is barely going over the goal-line.

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