Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Pers:Video umpires are just not cricket - but they should be.

Big furore when Ricky Ponting asked the umpire to look at the video replay in a recent match against Bangladesh.
He was correct, as it transpires - but that’s not the point.

Never thought Ponting would become captain of the Australian cricket team. “Captain of Australia!”, as a (cricket-obsessed) one-time manager of mine would say. Ponting first caught my imagination with some spectacular run-outs in England in the late 1990s. It takes particularly good hand-eye co-ordination - and a good sense of location - to be able to catch a ball on the run and instantly swing around - as Ponting did - to catch the wicket. Yet despite cricket being a statistics-obsessed game (probably akin to baseball in many ways), stats on runouts aren’t collated. Any suggestions why?

Not that I’m a cricket tragic. Really. In fact, I think too much cricket is played at an international level - surely much more than in the past - to the point where it’s a debasement of the currency.
Why the recent chatter over the video replay? Because, of course, you shouldn’t question the umpire. And rightly so. Especially if you’re the captain of the top team in the world, playing against real minnows. But ignoring clear video evidence is a nonsense. Cricket administration is, by and large, a very establisment affair, not given to rapid change - such as with the advent of video. In the interest of patent fairness, though - and avoiding any perception of bias - there should be some capacity to refer the umpire to the video record. In the interest of pacing - and maintaining the sanctity of the umpire’s position - that capacity should be limited. For example, one appeal to video allowed per captain per innings.

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