Stump microphones to help umpires make sound decisions

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The Independent Online

Umpires at this autumn's ICC Champions Trophy will be fitted with ear-pieces linked to TV-stump microphones in cricket's latest experiment with technology-guided decision making.

On-field officials will be relieved of the need to watch for foot-fault no balls, which will instead be the responsibility of the third umpire using a TV monitor.

The measures are to help umpires make correct judgements over contentious lbws or catches where there is doubt over whether bat has hit ball.

Announcing the innovations at Edgbaston yesterday, Dave Richardson, of the International Cricket Council, said: "The majority of bad mistakes relate to lbw decisions, in particular where there is an inside edge on to the pad, and to caught behind or bat-pad catches where there is a faint edge involved.

"Wearing an ear-piece will help the umpire decide by the noises that he hears whether there has been contact with the bat or whether the ball has hit, for example, a pad or a boot.

"The aim of giving the third umpire responsibility for judging no balls is to let the umpire on the field concentrate on what is happening at the business end of the pitch without having to look at where the bowler's feet are landing."

The experiment will be launched at a tri-nation tournament in the Netherlands before being tested in seven matches at September's 15-day Champions Trophy, including one semi-final and the final at the Oval on 25 September.

Currently, umpires can seek help for line decisions - run-outs and stumpings - catches taken close to the turf and where there is doubt over the ball crossing the boundary.

Richardson added that plans to scrutinise slow bowling actions at the Champions Trophy did not constitute a witch-hunt.

As part of an ICC research programme biomechanics specialist Dr Paul Hurrion is to film all the slow bowlers in action at the competition so that the ICC can correctly determine what is an acceptable level of straightening of the arm.

"It will be about looking at all spinners - orthodox, leg, wrist and people with unusual actions like Muttiah Muralitharan and Harbhajan Singh," Richardson said.

"But this is for research purposes as opposed to trying to catch anyone out. We are not on a witch-hunt."