The gentlemen in white (usually) are undeservedly unsung - that's my excuse to write a song in their praise. Or maybe rip them apart in the wake of the big question - how much of a role should technology ideally play?RANDOM REDIRECTION # 1 (AVOID IF YOU VALUE CONTINUITY)
Now that India has won the inaugural World Cup of the gentlemen's game's most abbreviated version, only one question remains - where do we have dinner? Ok, there are not one but many, the main being - can the game still be called so? I mean, Twenty20 is to test cricket, what a micro-mini is to a sari, or a corporate suit for the unIndians - and that's not exactly very gentlemanly.
The debate between on-field decision-making and technological assistance is a raging one. Adding fuel to the fire were the 2 criminally wrong decisions by Simon Taufel, adjudging Tendulkar and Ganguly out against
Questions, questions: Should all the decisions be made on the field? Or should the concept of on-field umpires be abandoned totally? Exactly how much of a balance should it be, and in whose favour - technology or the human element? Sticky issues all - if we examine them one by one, there's a chance we might come up with something.
100% technology-based decisions
"It's Afridi now, to Yuvraj ... dances down the track ... freezes his shoulders and into the stands! Another stunning six, uh, I think ... let's wait for the confirmation"
"McGrath charging in towards Lara ... bangs it in short ... Lara hooks ... mis-cue ... up in the air ... fielder underneath ... he's gone! Or is he now? *sighs* We await the umpire's decision"
Ok - maybe you don't mind staring at a big faceless screen, but if you can imagine screaming "Howzzat!" looking at it, you need to be injected with something known as adrenaline.
100% human decisions
For more than 100 years since the inception of the gentleman's game, that's been the case. Until 1992 - when apna Sachin was ran out by a 3rd umpire. Since then, there's been no looking back - cricketers have time and again been at the mercy of the man with the TV. So much so that sometimes, field umpires have used referrals even when the batsmen have been 11 yards out of their crease. Which is outrageous, given that the entire pitch's length is just 22 yards. Guess those in the middle nowadays are either employed without a proper eye-test, or scared of the countless camera angles. Or plain lazy.
There can't a fixed yardstick for referrals, despite yards being the common unit of measure. Tricky situations arise, not only during a run-out/stumping, but also close in-field catches, boundaries and especially LBWs. In the process, umpires get criticized, whether they make a wrong call, or take assistance. I'm Indian - hence, free to speculate. Here are the top 10 technological invasions of cricket, but first:
HawkEyes, TramLines, Speed Guns and those weird biosensor things that proved Muralitharan's birth defect, among other things, are all too technical to be included here. Now if you've been taking my advice all this while, I should see your complaints.
1. No TV umpires - all replays on big screen, with all possibler aids. Let the crowd decide!
2. Umpire at bowler's end should stand beside the bowling crease. Unless of course it's Sachin Tendulkar.
3. Boundaries should be the outfielder's ball park - violations attracting docking of fees. For the subcontinental offender though - a ban for him and half his team.
4. Simon Taufel should be banned from the field, and restricted to the TV room. So much for his arguments in favour of umpiring skills.
5. Darrel Hair should be relegated to the Sri Lankan domestic league, whatever it's called.
6. Dickie Bird should be reincarnated, so that he stops turning in his grave. Wait a minute - he isn't dead yet. Sorry.
7. Steve "Slow Death" Bucknor should become an exclusive Twenty20 umpire.
8. Steve Waugh should be the 5th umpire - to decide, using hidden mics, what separates "mental disintegration" from sledging.
Sorry to say I've ran out - and yet again on this very blog, my top 10 ambitions are found wanting. Seriously, the above implementations will go a long way in reaffirming the spectators' faith in: A) the powers of the world's greatest umpire - technology, and B) the moniker of cricket being a gentleman's game.
PS: Rob Styles was bludgeoned by unidentified assailants who were, strangely, wearing the Blues’ jerseys. Wasn’t being totally blind in their favour against Liverpool good enough for them? Or is there more than what meets the eye? Watch this space! No, not this entry though. Why not? Did you forget the Twenty20 win already? It's cricket mood!