Cricket / Fourth Test: TV eye brings extra enlightenment

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The Independent Online
MIKE ATHERTON'S dismissal turned the day's play firmly in Australia's favour - not that anyone in an excellent fourth-day crowd expected anything different - and it also confirmed that the third umpire is here to stay. The general consensus from the press box monitor was that Atherton had been stumped but there was that element of doubt that justified umpire Dickie Bird in making the now familiar signal for a second opinion.

Umpire Barry Leadbeater duly obliged and what might have become a controversy was averted. Graham Gooch's departure, in similar circumstances, appeared to be an easier decision but again, the combination of a judgement by both the human and electronic eye made it easier to be understood and accepted.

The system is so simple and works so well, especially in conjunction with the giant screen on the ground, that the wonder is that it was not adopted as soon as technology made it possible. The ramifications are obvious: if it works so well in cricket then it could also function in football.

A second referee, in front of the monitor, could give a ruling when the match referee has stopped play for an infringement. There would be more stoppages, because match referees would be less likely to wave on play but there would also be less argument and that aggravating sense of injustice that disfigures so many British football matches would be alleviated.

Keith Fletcher was fully supportive of the system: 'We might have got away with three or four wickets this year without it but I'm in favour. We may get the decisions another time.' The manager's fortitude and good humour in trying times has to be praised. He said, wryly, of yesterday's play: 'Sometimes I wish our second innings were our first. We fought well today and we still have a chance.'

Bobby Simpson was lauding Keith Boyce's much criticised strip: 'It gets full marks from me. We got 600 on it and you still have to dig the batsmen out.' He refused to be drawn on Gooch's possible resignation today, saying: 'You usually find that the great captains have great teams. You have to ask yourself, which comes first?' A theme echoed by Fletcher when he said: 'We can only pick from the players who are available.'