Ashes denied drama of umpire referrals

ICC will gradually roll out system from October in a bid to cut number of errors
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The Independent Online

Umpires' decisions will go unchallenged in the Ashes series between England and Australia this summer after the International Cricket Council yesterday referred the matter to its cricket committee.

The committee endorsed the idea and agreed to recommend what it terms "a phased roll-out", in other words gradual implementation, of the system from October this year.

But before the Umpire Decision Review System is introduced, the ICC wants to make sure that there is no room for error and to that end it intends to establish minimum technological standards across the board in all the Test playing countries.

The ICC is also going to make sure that all match officials are given additional training, and firm protocols will be put in place for when the UDRS is employed during a Test. It was one of a number of topics considered by the cricket committee at Lord's throughout Monday and yesterday.

Cricket committee chairman Clive Lloyd, the former West Indies player, captain and manager, and ICC referee, gave the UDRS his blessing. "I think it is something we do need in cricket. We want to get it right. We want to make sure that the right team wins."

Lloyd admitted he would have backed the UDRS system as a player. "In 1976, at Lord's, Derek Underwood was bowling, the ball hit my pad, Alan Knott dived and took the 'catch' and I was given out. I reminded Derek about it the other day. He said, 'I know you didn't hit it', and I said, 'But you appealed'." The umpire gave the decision and Lloyd, on 50, had to walk.

But England's experiences of the new system, which was used during the Test series against the West Indies in the Caribbean this winter, were not great. In the first Test alone eight out of 10 referrals went against them, and it was felt that TV umpires in the four series in which the system was introduced as an experiment, had been adjudicating on marginal decisions when all that was needed was for them to ensure the match umpire was not making a dreadful mistake.

In the Caribbean series involving England each team was allowed two unsuccessful referrals per side, per innings and that figure will remain unchanged in October.

Lloyd's committee also considered a number of other changes designed to raise the appeal of Test cricket. The possibility of staging day/night Tests was discussed and experiments are being carried out with different coloured balls, including light green ones and pink ones. The ICC also wants to maintain the pace of a match and will consider stricter penalties, including heavier fines, if teams fall below 15 overs per hour, which the ICC considers appropriate and realistic.