We need to give umpires ample rest and respect

One would think that the people under the worst pressure during the Ashes would be the players. But no, times have changed. It’s our umpires who are under pressure every ball. The absurd Decision Review System is testing their decision making. After unblinkingly staring and observing 2700 deliveries for five days, ICC award-winning umpires are bluntly told that they are not good enough.

The series has seen four Tests till now and the ICC’s think-tank has still not been able to resolve the issue. The various angles of DRS are being paraded in arrogance. The unreliable DRS has put umpires under pressure and they are making more mistakes.

For decades, the verdict has been with the field umpires. The coming of the DRS has started pronouncing verdicts on the poor umpires themselves.

There has been a unanimous opinion among the connoisseurs that the DRS’s use should be taken out of the player’s hand. The top four batsmen behave as if the DRS is only meant for them. Had that been the case in the 70s and 80s, none of the batsmen batting from four onwards could have availed the DRS. The first four batsmen would have simply consumed all the reviews.

Fundamental problem

The first thing we need to do is identify the fundamental problem. The umpires feel that DRS adds to the pressure of umpiring. And with the crowd getting noisy, it is indeed an ugly scene. We are all aware that the DRS isn’t 100 percent perfect and that is a crucial point. If the umpire feels the batsman is out and the imperfect DRS says no, how will he accept the verdict? Umpires are castigated as if they are worthless individuals.

To get the best out of the two field umpires and the third umpire, the ideal way is to rotate all the three umpires. On observation, it can be noticed that the howlers mostly take place from the third day onwards.

Umpires understandably get tired and exhausted by the third day. If they are rotated, they will oversee fewer deliveries. This will surely help them as the degree of pressure will be less. They will be fresh mentally and physically.

The situation is such that esteemed umpires are making mistakes even with simple slip catches. A glaring example is of the world’s best umpire Aleem Dar, who didn’t send Stuart Broad back when he was caught at first slip.

Monotonous

The rate at which umpires all over the world are losing respect is of concern. The present system is too monotonous and with the pressure of DRS, the umpires are made to feel they are under scrutiny from ball one.

Everyone loves to criticise them; private television commentators, former cricketers writing in newspapers and cricket fans.

What must be going in the umpire’s mind is something no one empathises with. The rotation of umpires for five days will be a useful tool in minimising mistakes.

When the best of technology, which is DRS, itself is not foolproof, why be so harsh on umpires. Cricket cannot do away with the field umpires and the results that come out of rotation of umpires will prove that they will be in the right frame of mind.

Let us face it. It is not charity that our umpires deserve. The fact is that good umpires are actually more reliable than the dubious DRS. It is just that because of external pressure, their competence is getting affected. What we need is confidence in our umpires. We need to give them ample rest and above all respect.

The implementation of the rotation policy can ensure they do a competent job.