Redefining rules of the game

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Rule book Umpire I. Sivaram
Rule book Umpire I. Sivaram

Umpire I. Sivaram takes a closer look decisions made by the ICC

Not many umpires from India can speak on the subject as effectively and as convincingly as Ivaturi Sivaram does. It is a different issue that he continues to be treated indifferently by the powers-that-be in giving him the assignments. The latest being the IPL where he could have been a natural choice by sheer merit. Paying the price for not having any godfather? It is anybody’s guess!

Still, ask him anything about the thankless job of umpiring, Sivaram comes up as an affable gentleman, giving his opinion on any delicate issue related to the subject. Drawing from his three-decade old experience, this genial Hyderabadi believes that the recent decision of the International Cricket Council for phased roll out of the system from October 2009 is still not clear about its whole objective. “It only mentions the factoring in of lessons from the trials, documentation of minimum technical standards in technology and protocols, confirmation and implementation of minimum standards for the third umpire’s room and further training of umpires to implement the protocols and processes consistently,” reminds the umpire known for his integrity and accuracy in his judgements in the white coat.

“Somehow, I am against this referral system itself despite some of the advantages inherent in it. For instance, the hawk eye does not necessarily reflect the variation of bounce on the pitch to judge the lbw decision,” Sivaram argues. “I don’t think lbws should be decided by the referrals which however can be very handy for the decisions on stumpings, run-outs and hit-wickets,” he explains. In the same breath, this seasoned campaigner points out that even for caught-behind decisions the referrals may not be the final authority. “For the technology here invariably depends on the sound which is made. And, it is always not the bat touching the ball. This sound can be of anything like the bat hitting the turf or the ball brushing the pads,” he says. “Similarly, even while deciding whether it is a clean catch, unless the technology provides for the desired zoom to pick the actual piece of action correctly within couple of seconds, the referral may not be really handy,” Sivaram explains.

“Apparently, most of the referrals when they were experimented last time were handled by the Elite Panel of umpires. So, the ICC feels now the training of the other umpires is essential,” he says to a query. “Well, ever since the advent of live telecast, the umpire is always under scrutiny. I still firmly believe that no umpire is under any sort of pressure because of these referrals,” he insists.” Any umpire thinks on what he sees and nothing else,” he added. “Unfortunately, many believe that they can pass a judgement on any umpiring decision without actually being really through with the rules. For instance during the recent IPL in South Africa, one of the commentators said ‘it has to be Not Out’ when Andrew Symonds was stumped out by Kumara Sangakarra stating that the bail has been dislodged, conveniently forgetting that even if there is one bail, the stumping can be effected,” explains Sivaram. “Such comments actually send out wrong signals to millions of people watching television and killing the confidence of an umpire in retrospect,” he moans.

Significantly, Sivaram doesn’t believe that the referrals slow down the pace of the game. “When you can have a seven-minute strategic break in a fast paced game like the Twenty-20, I don’t see any hiccup for these referrals in a five-day Test match,” he argues.

Interestingly, the ICC believes that the referral system has reduced the number of incorrect decisions and also cut down on the instances of player dissent.





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