Out with the field umpires, in with the technology

Published: April 3, 2015
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I remember what I, and other Pakistani fans, went through went Umar Akmal was declared out by the field umpire during the India and Pakistan match.

Technology should replace field umpires in cricket. This is not just an idea, it is a proposal. 

In 1992, when the concept of a neutral umpire was introduced in cricket, it was unanimous and a need of the time. Indeed, it was a turning point in the history of cricket as before the concept of neutral umpires, there had been controversies in every other match, especially in matches between rivals playing on their home grounds.

Pakistan’s skipper, Imran Khan, realised that neutral umpires can play a significant role in gaining the trust of cricket players and fans and both the teams would accept the decision without any problem.

But that era is now over.

Today we see many controversial decisions by field umpires which, most of the time, affect the game’s overall result. In a recent World Cup match, between India and Bangladesh, Indian player Rohit Sharma was not dismissed on the basis of the field umpire declaring it a no-ball. This incident deeply hurt the feelings of Bangladeshi fans and I feel that such an error could have been avoided if they had used Hawk-Eye technology.

Rohit Sharma hits out during his potentially match-winning innings of 137 for India at the MCG. Photo: AFP

I remember what I, and other Pakistani fans, went through went Umar Akmal was declared out by the field umpire during the India and Pakistan match. If only it had been referred to the third umpire or if Hot Spot technology had been used, the decision would have been different.

India’s players celebrate the dismissal of Umar Akmal (R) during the Pool B 2015 Cricket World Cup match between India and Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval on February 15, 2015. Photo: AFP

In yet another incident in this World Cup, James Anderson of England was declared run-out in their match against Australia. However, later the ICC accepted that it was an umpiring error and that it shouldn’t have been a wicket.

James Anderson (L) was wrongly given out. Photo: ABC.net/ Getty images

These are just a few decisions by field umpires which changed the results of games. My question is, why are these incidents happening when there are so many technologies available now which can be used to diminish these mistakes.

To make a case for my proposal, I would like to highlight some of the technologies which are being used today and can provide accuracy to cricketing decisions:

1. Snickometer

Originally invented by Allan Plaskett, the Snickometer is used to detect the edges from the bat using a microphone placed near the stumps. It uses the differences between sound frequencies of the ball hitting different surfaces. This technology is used to check if the ball hit the bat or not, for a caught-behind, and bat-pad for Leg-Before Wicket (LBW) appeals.

Photo: The Daily Telegraph

2. Hawk-Eye

This is one of the most used technologies in cricket, used to judge the trajectory of the ball. It has been used by broadcasters for a long time to help commentators and viewers know if correct decisions were given for LBW appeals. This technology predicts the path of the ball after impact, using a slew of cameras placed around the cricket ground.

Photo: ESPN Cricinfo

3. Hot Spot

Another ball tracking technology used in television, it relies on infrared cameras that detect the heat signature of ball impact. For instance, wherever the ball hits the batsman, the heat signature of that particular spot changes, creating a Hot Spot. It is particularly helpful in judging faint edges and close bat-pad LBW shouts. It is widely appreciated by players for its accuracy but is not a regular part of the ICC’s Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) due to its expensive implementation and sensitive equipment.

Photo: The Telegraph

4.  LED stumps and bails

In the recent cricket World Cup, we saw LED wickets which would light up every time the bails are removed from the wicket. This technology helps in decisions for run out and stump appeals.

Photo: Rediff/ AFP

Along with the above mentioned technologies, I would like to suggest that there should be a sensor placed along the crease to detect if the bat was on, inside or outside the line. It can help decide run-outs and stump scenarios as well. Similarly, it can be used to see if the bowler’s foot was on, inside or outside the line as well.

These technologies can surely replace field umpires and fielding team captains should be given the authority to use these technologies whenever it is necessary. And I strongly believe that once field umpires are removed, the cricketing sport will enjoy 100% accuracy and very less chances of error.

Noman Farooqi

Noman Farooqi

The writer has graduated from NED University, Karachi and is currently working in the US as an IT consultant. He tweets as @fnoman (twitter.com/fnoman)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.