Cricket: Time for the video umpire

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IF EVER a case had to be made for the necessity of a third umpire, it could not have been put more eloquently than by events in the last over before tea.

Sachin Tendulkar, on nine, pushed Ian Salisbury in to the covers and started for a run. He was almost half-way up the pitch when his partner, Navjot Sidhu, turned his back on him.

Tendulkar spun round, sprinted back and dived for the crease as Chris Lewis's throw came in, and Richard Blakey whipped off the bails. The square-leg umpire, Professor Rathore, said not out - to the universal dismay of the Englishmen. The television replay showed that Tendulkar was out by about two inches.

No square-leg umpire could have been absolutely certain that this was so when one considers the speed at which it all happened. The professor had his doubts and rightly gave the benefit of them to the batsman. If there had been a third umpire in the pavilion to view the slow-motion replay, Tendulkar would have been given out.

There are some who are still squeamish about the use of electronic aids for the umpires, similar to those that have been used to advantage in other sports. But surely when they can be used with the minimum of fuss, as was well illustrated during India's recent series in South Africa, when a third umpire was used, it can only be of benefit to the game, and it is hard to find any reasonable objection.

When a batsman knows he is bowled or caught, he walks off. Replays are shown so quickly these days that the delay is minimal, and for a batsman to be allowed to stay in when all the world can see that he is out is surely absurd.