Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sangakkara's Dismissal and The Need For a Review System in Cricket

Yesterday, Sangakkara played an innings of sheer brilliance... I wasnt able to watch it, (here is a frank description of the day's happenings by our friend Uncle J Rod) but any man who plays with the belief that his side can reach 500+ in the 4th innings of a test match and that he can lead them to it deserves accolades. Most teams would have started out trying to draw the game, because that is also an honorable outcome against the mighty Australians. To all Sri Lankan's, there is glory in defeat - you should hold your head high because of the way you lost the game.

An now on to the main talking point of the game - the fact that Sangakkara's brilliant innings was curtailed by a very poor decision. Umpires will make mistakes, so will players (who initiate horrendous appeals in the first place). I respect Koertzen for apologizing to Sangakkara after the game. But the fact is that such decisions can be reduced if not eliminated. My proposal is that each team should get 2 chances to ask for a review per session. I foresee the batting team initiating most of these requests, but I can also see the bowling team request for the review (for example if a player gets out on a no ball or an appeal is not referred to the third umpire). here is how it would work...

If the ref makes a decision which one team doesn't like:

  1. The coach of the team can ask for a review only until the next ball is bowled. A review can only be requested for the last ball bowled.
  2. If the team requesting the review is proven correct, then they maintain their review, otherwise they lose a review for that session
  3. Each team gets 2 reviews per session
  4. Reviews can not be requested for lbw decisions
  5. If there is insufficient data (for example bad camera angle, inconclusive frame sequence etc) then the ruling on the field stands.
  6. There should be standard camera angles and positions so the same evidence/footage is available on all test match venues

This review system works pretty well in NFL and has also been introduced in ATP Tennis games. Surprise, surprise, it works! Its not perfect, because technology has its limitations, but it does work.

As for Mr Ponting and his demand for system for fairness and that people on the field judge whether they caught the ball cleanly or not. I believe that's a load of crap. Lets use technology when it is available so there are no "what ifs" at the end of the day... so that Sangakkara's leave with their head high with the belief that they did everything they could without unnecessary intervention.

Make your pitch on this post...

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26 Pitched:

  1. NAzhar said...

    Excellent idea...when you have the technology then why not use it. I like the rules you have mentioned but have some differences.

    I would start with 2 challenges per day (for tests) and 2 per match (for ODI). I would give the captain the right to challenge since the cricket coach is too far away from the action. If a team wins both their challenges then I would give them one additional challenge. I would also say in the last session of a test match and in the last 5 overs of an ODI...the match referee should call for automatic reviews of any close calls.

  2. Uncle J rod said...

    Call me old fashioned, but do we really need more reasons for the game to be slowed down.

    Players make mistakes, umpires make mistakes and bloggers make mistakes.

  3. NAzhar said...

    that may be true in the old ages when this game was a gentleman's game...in today's world a lot of decisions have been made which have cost teams matches...we can no longer have this attitude about players and umpires make mistakes and move on...you have the technology...use it and once it is used automatically calls will get better...we have seen it in NFL and in tennis.

  4. Q said...

    Interesting suggestion Obaid.

    I am all for more use of technology in cricket but I also see where Uncle J is coming from.

    The whole drama associated with bad decisions, batsmen given out when they weren't (recent examples: Yuvraj in 5th ODI and Sangakkara), or given not out when they were (recent example: Sachin in 4th ODI), will be wiped off.

    There will 1 less thing for journalists and bloggers to write about.

    I'm not sure abt referrals, but using the 3rd umpire more is something the on field umpires should do.

    Nazhar, I agree if referrals are to be used, it should be onfield captains rather than the coach. If the coach waits for the replay to decide, the next ball would have been bowled.

    Still not sure abt this. It was discussed at one of the ICC meetings but didn't find the favor of majority of the boards.

  5. zqazi said...

    I definately agree that more technology needs to be introduced in cricket, however we have seen several times that a camera angle cant really tell whether somebody has actually caught the ball or not. So I think technology needs to be improved before we introduce it as far as catches go, im all for technology for snicks and hawkeye(lbw decisions). I believe the reason the challenges have worked so well in NFL is because the coaches have the advantage of looking at the replay before they challenge (their team of coaches sitting upstairs tell them whether to challenge or not). So i propose each team to have a designated "challenger" who sits and watches the game with the 3rd umpire/match referee and decides whether he wants to challenge the decision or not. That way we dont waste too much time and each team has the advantage of looking at the replay before challenging.

  6. David Barry said...

    I agree whole-heartedly with this sort of system, though like Nazhar I'd limit the number of unsuccessful challenges to two per innings.

    The argument that we'd lose some colour or something is, to me, ridiculous - I don't watch cricket for bad umpiring decisions. I want the best team on the day (or five days...) to win.

    The "slowing down the game" issue is a more serious objection, but I think that the vast majority of this problem comes from poor over-rates. Back in the olden days they could bowl well over a hundred six-ball overs a day, sometimes up around 120 with spinners on.

    Unfortunately, the last time a match referee severely punished a captain for a very slow over rate, Ganguly went to court and got the ruling overturned.... Still I'd like to see captains suspended for poor over rates.

  7. Q said...

    Brilliant suggestion zqazi - I believe that could work.

    I too watch cricket to see the best team win David, however there is this whole drama associated with decisions that could have gone either way. The drama diminishes if all such decisions are 'challenged' - not that I don't want them to be challenged, but I was just thinking aloud.

    Plus the diminishing of the drama is due to slowing down the game.

  8. Straight Point said...

    another suggestion is why not try this system first at domestic games and evaluate the situations, circumstances arising out of these...tweak them and then apply them to international cricket...

    till then lets give bloggers to write something on blogs ;)

  9. obaid said...

    zqazi, great increment to an already great idea :) There is one flaw with the captain on the field asking for the review. For the side batting, the captain may not be at the crease. Thats why I suggested the coach should ask for a review (like NFL)... but I like your idea of having a designated "challenger"

    @q, asking for a review has its own drama. Trust me, there will be more drama if we have the audience ooing and aaing and asking for a review. I speak from personal experience... I was at the US Open this Fall watching Del Potro play Nadal. Nadal was whipping Potro's butt... one Nadal ball landed close to the sideline and was rules out... me and my family started yelling "challenge... challenge!" Del Potro looked at us with a "what the heck" look and went for a pretty poor challenge which he obviously lost. So we made history by adding excitement to a very boring match :)

    Anyways, I do agree with Uncle J Rod that challenges can slow the game down. This certainly is the case with NFL games. However in tennis this is not the case... you have a few seconds to challenge, hence I said that the challenge has to occur before the next ball is bowled. Im sure a system can be put in place that is smooth. As it is, with current technology, playback occurs right after the ball is bowled.. so we dont have to wait for the reel to be prepared etc.

  10. Miriam said...

    They tried a referral system in England for the Friends Provident trophy this year but the general consensus seemed to be that it didn't really worked. I didn't follow the story enough to know why. It may have been that there weren't any decisions that were really suitable for referral, as don't think any referred decisions were actually overturned, so the system didn't get a proper test.

    I don't see how it would dramatically slow the game down if the number of referrals is restricted, and it may improve the game by reducing dissent at bad decisions and may encourage batsmen to walk / discourage fielders from claiming non-catches if they know that the referral would catch them. I also don't think I agree with the view that mistakes are part and parcel of the game although I'm willing to be persuaded. The fact that we're all thinking about what might have been if Sangakarra hadn't been wrongly given out surely suggests that there's a greater interest to be served in these decisions being right.

  11. Miriam said...

    BTW Obaid if you can catch any highlights of Sangakkara's innings it's well worth a look. Also for an excellent supporting hand played by Malinga.

  12. Q said...

    Agree totally with straight point - the ideas needs to be tried at the domestic level before being passed for the international level.

    Miriam - your knowledge of the game impresses me. First with the pink dressing rooms, then stuart broad's t-shirt, and now the fact that this referral system has been tried before - u have definitely added a lot to my knowledge, and I thought I knew everything.

    Obaid, I agree there could be more drama added with referrals.

    All I was doing was playing the devil's advocate and suggesting something from the other side - no one would complain anymore about a batsman being given out when he wasn't - it does take something out of the game. Bad decisions have been associated with the game since its inception. Obviously we don't watch cricket to see wrong umpiring decisions, but do u understand what im saying?

    Lets go back to the 1987 world cup semi final between Pakistan and Australia. Had there been TV umpires then, Dean Jones would have been run out and Imran Khan would have been not out. In that case Pakistan would have probably won the semi, played the final, and won the world cup. Imran Khan would have retired and built his cancer hospital.

    There would have been no special comeback victory of 1992 nor would there have been any pleading by the Pak Govt. to get Imran Khan back from retirement after the 1987 world cup.

    KC wouldn't have written the amazing 'i am waiting' blog.

    Had Imran Khan left in 1987, players like Inzamam, Waqar, Mushtaq, Aqib may have never played for Pakistan.

    All this cos someone suggested the use of technology to judge run outs. Thank god that happened in the mid 90s.

    See how much drama would have been lost had their been TV umpires in 1987?

  13. NAzhar said...

    I agree with David...you want to see the best team win the match...I also think that the use of challenges and technology will make the umpires job easier as they will have less tension about making incorrect decisions.

    As far as slowing the game down - for test matches it doesnt matter coz how much slower can a 5 day game really become :-) For 1 days, I think umpires will call for the 3rd umpire less often on obvious decisions and overall I do not think the game will be slowed down.

    If you want to speed up the game - put a restriction on Shoaib's run up length! But please use technology to ensure the best team wins.

    Obaid, NFL games have really not been slowed too much by the use of technology and we have definitely seen much better officiating...though the tuck rule still haunts me!

  14. Miriam said...

    In the interests of fairness I should also add that if a referral system had been in place in 2005 England may not have won the Ashes (Kasprovic caught off his glove while his hand wasn't on the bat).

  15. obaid said...

    q, you hopeless romantic! Must be those pain killers again!

  16. David Barry said...

    Miriam, that's an interesting example you mention (Kasprowicz and the glove). No-one actually noticed that it was technically not out until much later. (My personal opinion is that, while technically it was not out, it was out in spirit, and the Laws should be changed so that it would be out.) Kasprowicz himself said that, if he had been the bowler in that situation, he would have been very disappointed if he hadn't got the wicket. Would he have challenged the decision in the game?

    If so, that would have been very dramatic - scenes of wild celebration, followed by a not out decision on referral and play resuming....

  17. SledgeHammer said...

    MCC recommends expanding Friends Provident Trophy experiment to Tests, as well as including the use of Hawkeye. Me likey!

    FYI, here are two articles about the Friends Provident experiment, which is not entirely popular with the players: 1 and

    The system is never going to be right the first time. There will be teething problems, but in the end it will be fair and make sense. It took a long time to get a fair rain-affected match rule, but in the end D/L does the job pretty well.

    Finally, read this and this for a couple of interesting points somewhat related to this topic.

  18. Miriam said...

    Y, I seem to remember it requiring umpteen replays before we were really sure that it was not out. I also think that the English referral system may have required a clear and obvious mistake by the on-field umpire, of which this wasn't one.

  19. Q said...

    Welcome to wellpitched sledge. For those who don't know, Sledgehammer is the author of the general blog www.buthyaar.com and also the one who introduced me to the world of blogging.

    Thanks for the links. I didn't know that the referrals system had been tried over the English summer. I knew the players and some administrators were against it and that it was suggested at ICC board meetings.

    David, I find it interesting that u think that the rules need to be changed. U reckon that a batsman be given out caught of the glove if the glove is not holding the bat at the time of contact with the ball? wouldn't that lead to further debates and changes on why a batsman cannot be given out of any other part of the body, i.e. off the pad, helmet, arm guard, chest guard, etc.?

    The Kasprowicz dismissal was one of a kind. Kasprowicz himself and no other Aussie at that point thought that it was not out, thus it wouldn't have been "challenged".

    Obaid - the painkiller are definitely having their effect. I feel drugged all day!

  20. David Barry said...

    Q: I don't see how such a Law change would lead to further debates. Everyone knows where the glove ends today, and no-one argues that being caught off the arm guard is out. It would just be "out if caught off bat or glove", rather than "out if caught off bat or glove attached to bat". And it doesn't damage the intent of the Laws much, since batsmen aren't supposed to handle the ball anyway.

  21. Q said...

    Handled the ball is given out if the batsman uses his gloves but not if he uses his legs. That way the change of rule for 'out caught' makes sense. What if the batsman handles the ball using his forearm, is that out?

    For a catch, a batsman cannot be out if the ball hits a part of his body not holding the bat. Thus if the glove is not 'holding' the bat, it should be not out. If the law changes, don't u think the debate of forearm at the least would do the rounds?

  22. David Barry said...

    What if the batsman handles the ball using his forearm, is that out?
    No. Law 33: "Either batsman is out Handled the ball if he wilfully touches the ball while in play with a hand or hands not holding the bat unless he does so with the consent of the opposing side."

    If the law changes, don't u think the debate of forearm at the least would do the rounds?
    I honestly don't think it would.

  23. Q said...

    Imagine this:

    Brett Lee bowling to Younis Khan. He bowls a short one angled into the batsman. Younis raises his bat in front of his head to defend. The ball leaves him at the last second, Younis' right hand moves off the bat as a reaction of following the ball. The ball hits his glove and goes straight into Ponting's hands at 2nd slip.

    Should that be out? I don't think so.

    But if the rules are changed, then I think the same ball off the arm guard and into Ponting's hands should also be out.

  24. David Barry said...

    Q: I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, because I think Younis should be out in that situation. :)

  25. Q said...

    I agree to disagree David.

    Will keep an eye on any rule changes ;-)

  26. Q said...

    Following on from Sangakkara's dismissal, Cricinfo has compiled a list of the 11 worst umpiring decisions in history. (http://content-gulf.cricinfo.com/columns/content/current/story/321553.html)

    Interesting to note that 7 out of those 11 examples would have benefitted from TV umpires and referrals.

    The funniest example dates back to 1936 when the umpire, admitted to the batsman that "he had to end the innings cos he really had to pee!"

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