‘Umpire’s Call’: it’s the law that is supposed to retain the human element in cricket and protect the integrity of umpires.
It’s also the law that made a mockery of the Decision Review System (DRS) and saved England captain Joe Root despite being trapped dead in front by spinner Ravichandran Ashwin last week in the second Test.
But a MCC conference meeting held overnight between a who’s who of cricket, including Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting, could pave the way for the ‘Umpire’s Call’ for lbws to be cancelled in favour of a straight out or not out decision.
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In a statement, the MCC committee said “some members felt (Umpire’s Call) was confusing to the watching public, particularly when the same ball could either be Out or Not out depending on the on-field umpire’s original decision.
“They felt it would be simpler if the original decision was disregarded on review, and that there was a simple Out or Not out, with no Umpire’s Call.”
Supporters of the current law on the committee argued that Umpire’s Call helps to retain a human element in the decision-making process, and “takes into account the ‘benefit of the doubt’ that has existed in umpires’ decisions for many years”.
The opinions of the committee will be passed on to the ICC for discussion later this year.
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Root left red-faced after AWFUL review
The law was one of a number of issues discussed, including the use of saliva on the ball; short-pitched bowling; the future of the ICC World Test Championship; the use of host-country umpires in Test cricket; and women’s cricket.
In particular, the vexed Umpire’s Call reared its head again last week Root was given not out and later saved by DRS.
Root played back to a skidding ball, which hit his back pad as he brought down the bat at the last second, before ricocheting in Indian keeper Rishabh Pant’s gloves.
India appealed, but on-field umpire Nitin Menon turned it down. With seconds left to review the decision, Indian captain Virat Kohli reviewed the decision.
Replays showed Root clearly missing the ball before it struck his back pad, but despite being able to see off-stump and the ball going on to hit the middle of the stumps the ball-tracker revealed that fractionally more than half the ball hit the batsman outside the line of off-stump.
As such, the on-field decision of not out was maintained.
Kohli was left fuming, while all Root could do was chuckle.
Former England batsman turned pundit Nick Knight was left “flabbergasted” by the decision.
Down Under, former Australian batsman Mark Waugh also tweeted his surprise.
“That’s the plumpest LBW I’ve ever seen given not out by DRS,” he wrote.