Cricket: Umpires see light

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The Independent Online
NELSON MANDELA welcomed the Indian tourists in Johannesburg yesterday by asserting that their arrival brought 'a message of hope and non-racial unity'. Another glimpse of a less fractious future came with the announcement that the third umpire being introduced for the forthcoming Test series will, experiments permitting, make his rulings via coloured lights.

Close decisions on run-outs, stumpings and hit wickets will be adjudicated by a third official armed with a television monitor and brought into play by a signal from one of the on-field officials. Should he deem the batsman to be out, he will reply by flashing a green light; if he decides he is either not out or that the replay is inconclusive, the light will be red. Two four- day warm-up matches involving the tourists - the first starting on Saturday - are being used as dry runs and a decision on the efficacy of this system will be made before the first Test in Durban on 13 November.

The protagonists in the four- match rubber, however, have yet to agree on how the umpires are to be rotated. Two local men will join an overseas official in each game and Mohammad Azharuddin's men favour a daily change, as during their recent Test in Harare. The South Africans, conversely, prefer to alternate on a session-by-session basis. Steve Bucknor, of Jamaica, will stand in the first two Tests, David Shepherd, of England, in the last two.

A new over-rate rule for rain-affected games will be introduced for the one-day series, while another innovation will see bouncers decreed as wides instead of no-balls, thus preventing batsmen from playing such deliveries with impunity.

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