Cricket: Third man doubt

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The Independent Online
A THIRD umpire is unlikely to be used during this summer's Ashes series. Ted Dexter, the chairman of England's selectors, had hinted that an extra official could be in place for the six Tests and three one-day internationals against Australia. But that suggestion was labelled 'premature' by cricket chiefs at Lord's yesterday.

A third umpire, adjudicating on close run-outs and stumping appeals after studying television replays, has already been tried in South Africa and New Zealand this winter. But neither England nor Australia have seen the system at first hand - and both would have to agree for it to be introduced this summer.

'It is unlikely, though not impossible, that a proposal will be put to Australia,' a Test and County Cricket Board spokesman, Ken Lawrence, said. The Board have set up a working party under the former England captain Mike Smith, who witnessed the 'third man system' while acting as the match referee during South Africa's recent series against India.

The likeliest outcome is a trial run in televised domestic cricket this summer - starting with a Sunday League game on 16 May. The one-day international series begins just three days later.

Australia will have a chance to sample the new system on their mini-tour of New Zealand.