So, why have we got all this referral crap? No really, I want to know…
Many people say that Test Cricket is a dying form, and that may well be the case, but I have never once heard that one of the reasons for this is a proliferation of poor umpiring decisions. There is a vast array of reasons for Test Cricket’s gradual decline in popularity. I guess the most obvious example would be the fact that no one has any time anymore! Seriously, the game goes for five days. Maybe a few generations ago, people had more leisure time, and more time to devote a form such as Test Cricket. However, unfortunately, all that people seem to have time for today is the quick fix. Read: T20.
Another reason for Test Cricket’s gradual decline is of course the introduction of these other forms of the game, the ODI’s and the T20’s. These are threats not only because of the afore mentioned time element, but also because they simply mean that cricket is NEVER ENDING! People enjoy things that aren’t constant; they love to have a build-up to a certain exiting event. But nowadays, with so much cricket in so many forms being played, it is no wonder that people’s interest wane. This does not mean that cricket is any less supported on a whole, but if the game is so prevalent, then it is of course going to be the ‘Hollywood’ versions that stand out.
I think another factor that needs to be taken into account is the preparation of test cricket pitches. Just recently, in the test match in Barbados, between the West Indies, and in the series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, there has been the all too common sight of ridiculously batting friendly pitches that do nothing except produce draws. Really, it is enough to try and convince people to pay their money to come to see a game that lasts for five days. The fact that they have to then sit through hour after hour of batsmen just being able to push the ball around, with fielding captains having to set outrageously defensive fields, is just plain wrong.
Pitches need to be producing results. A draw should only occur when two teams have thrown everything they have at each other, on a pitch that offers enough for both batsmen and bowlers, and then only do they manage to hold on for a draw. But games that just produce run after boring run do nothing for the future of the longest form of the game.
So we finally come back to the question of umpire technology. As I have stated, I have never once heard anyone mention that cricket is on the decline because of umpiring. Yes, on occasion you hear how a certain team received a couple of Steve Bucknor howlers, but the old adage remains…they all even out in the wash. Why then must all this ridiculous set-up of referrals be introduced? As we have seen in the recent tests in Johannesburg and Barbados, the system is just simply not needed. Umpires are generally right. Yes, on occasion they fail to hear a minute edge, or the LBW they gave actually pitched one millimetre outside Leg Stump. But does this really matter? Have you ever seen a test match decided by poor umpiring? The third umpire is a tool that really does come into its own when deciding run outs. You are either in or you’re out. But there are so many factors that go into a LBW, and I really believe that the man deciding at that moment has the best view, and should have the right to make that decision.
The only thing that the inclusion of referrals has given to Test Cricket is a headache. If it was brought into the game to clean up questionable decisions, it has failed, as there are now more decisions questioned than ever. Furthermore, if it was brought into the game to try and improve the plight of Test Cricket, then the ICC has some thinking to do. Maybe they should look at the outrageous prices being expected of poor locals, or the tedious over rates, or maybe at just ensuring that the amazing moment of excitement when the umpire out in the middle slowly raises his index finger, and the crowd erupts, stays in the game, because there is no better drama than that.
You’ve heard Blaise’s take on cricket technology, why not see the contrasting take on cricket technology by David Siddall.
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