Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Comedy Of Errors

The controversial Dhoni dismissal has resulted in ICC issuing a clarification of protocol under such circumstances. Read it here.

Ruchir Joshi at SightScreen points out the silliness of this rule. As per the wise men at ICC, if a Dhoni-Ganga like situation arises, the onfield umpires can refer it to the third umpire. Fair enough. Now the funny part. The third umpire has to first decide whether it’s a boundary or not. In case of inconclusive TV footage, it is not a boundary since there is no evidence of any boundary(Ah Genius!). And since its not a boundary, it a clean catch and the batsman is out (Einstein!). Whatever happened to benefit of doubt being given to the batsman? Why can’t the third umpire first adjudicate on the catch?

Apart from this obvious inanity, another grudge I have is why is it that the third umpire has to make a decision even in case of inconclusive evidence? What if there are no footages of the fielder catching (or saving the boundary)? So we have a situation where the onfield umpires refer it to the third umpire, who has no other option but to make a decision, but he has no help whatsoever in form of replays. What does he do? Still rule that its not a boundary and hence imply that the batsman is out (since it automatically becomes a catch)? Mind you, such a situation is quite possible. I have seen many times (mostly on Doordarshan) when the batsman hits the ball high in the air, cameras point skywards and keep searching for the ball while it has already landed. On other times, the cameraman moves the camera so fast that he sometimes overshoots. Infact something similar happened in this Dhoni dismissal. As you can see in the video here, initially Ganga is in the frame, but as he tries to zoom it, the cameraman looses it and he zooms on to an inflated pepsi bottle advertisement outside the boundary.

In such cases why can’t the third umpire just communicate to the onfield umpires that he cannot make any decision due to lack of proper replays. The onfield umpires can then take the word of the concerned fielder. If he’s sure that he took the catch cleanly, rule the batsman out, else, as per the norm, give the benefit of doubt to the batsman. The fielding captain or any other player should not have any rights to question this decision.

Why this rigidity that the third umpire should make a decision even if he is not in the best position to make the right call? Isn’t the whole idea of having a third umpire to reduce umpiring errors? Then why make such inflexible rules and introduce the possibility of more errors?

As with most of ICC’s other “rules”, one can only wonder.

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