Unnecessary Umpires?


Do we actually need umpires, on-field ones at least?

My nephew plays Ultimate (Don’t call it frisbee!) and they don’t use umpires.

I think that it was Kevin Pietersen who hinted at such, that on-field umpires needn’t call no-balls but a third umpire in the box complete with screen could simply add the run to the score, a notification could come up on the big screen and the players could refer to the scoreboard to know if there was still a delivery remaining in the over.

Umpires get some stick for making the wrong call but how can you possibly check for a no-ball with your head facing down then look up and keep up with a ball being bowled in excess of 90mph? You’re head is bound to not always be straight and therefore not in line with the stumps. There are those that say umpires didn’t get these decisions wrong in the past but the truth is that video replays weren’t there to challenge that assumption.

In regards to run out calls, these often tend to go the big screen anyway. Even when it doesn’t seem a close call, there’s often a check as to whether the wicketkeeper has dislodged the bails legitimately.

In terms of general decision making such as LBWs and caught behinds, not having on-field umpires could quite possibly bring a batsman’s integrity to the fore. Obviously we currently have DRS implemented with a cap but if a batsman knows that the decision is going to the screen for everybody to see then if he or she knows they’re out, they might realise that the sensible thing to do is to walk.

Like playing, umpiring is not easy. Standing in excessive heat, having to concentrate for 600 deliveries a day with TV stations across the globe analysing and criticising your decision making is almost like being a player but without the glory for doing your job well.

In baseball, I believe that they have a central hub for decision making. The third umpire or their equivalent are in a studio possibly miles away.

Could we have this set-up for county or franchise matches that are being played simultaneously?

It may be felt that the appeal, that a bowler turning and pleading to an umpire may be lost from the game but as it stands that umpire’s decision is going to be questioned anyway. If a team really wants to appeal, their captain could use the current standard signal or even push a button on some sort or wristband that notifies that particular matches designated umpire at the central hub. The decision then comes up on the big screen for all (Players and spectators) to see. In terms of time taken out of the game we can tie this into unnecessary breaks in play and these being eradicated from the game e.g. a batsman should not be allowed to change his gloves or any equipment unless it’s broken during a session or you’re only allowed a drink during an official drinks break. This is possibly an article in itself. I have a habit of doing that, writing an article that spawns another!

There are lots of intricacies to the game of cricket but checks for height related no-balls and dismissals off them are amongst other things, elements of the game that with a little polishing, could all be done by in-studio umpires without stemming the flow of the game too much.

Like many walks of life, technology is putting people’s livelihoods at risk. In this case tech and the human mind could work together. Umpires would still be needed if not actually on the field.

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