In an age when technology has become a part of sport in general and cricket in particular, it is worth examining the merits or otherwise of technology as an aid to cricket umpires.
One school of thought says that wherever technology can assist umpires it should be used. Bad decisions become a thing of the past and the real ‘clangers’, which occur too often for comfort, are eliminated.
In opposition are those who proclaim that the use of technology produces long and often unnecessary delays, that human error is a part of life and sport, that technology is also imperfect and therefore we should carry on as we did before. Amongst this group one will find some players and umpires.
To me it seems that the guiding light should be that factor which is least likely to be used by the ICC, common sense. Firstly, decisions by the TMO should be taken quickly. At the moment there is a prescribed schedule of steps – check no ball; check hot spot; check snicko; check hawkeye etc etc. The TMO should know what he really needs to see, if the batsman looks out check the no ball and give the decision. Unfortunately, it is not only technology which sometimes appears faulty, as on more than one occasion a TMO has examined the incident from every possible angle over several minutes and then made a quite obviously ludicrous decision.
For me and for some others, hawkeye and the way it is used remains a problem. Whereas catches off an inside or outside edge are given out by the TMO if contact appears on snicko or hotspot and a run out or stumping is either in or out, for some unfathomable reason, lbw, if given not out by the umpire is only out if more than half the ball is predicted by hawkeye to be hitting the wicket. If given out by the umpire, then the merest brushing of the wicket by the ball is sufficient to earn a decision in favour of the bowler. This is obviously illogical. Surely, one doesn’t use technology unless one trusts that it is completely reliable. It then follows that if hawkeye shows that the ball would have hit the wicket and all other conditions are in place for an lbw appeal to be successful, then it is out, regardless of the original decision of the umpire.
Unfortunately, for those of us who long for the ‘good old days’, technology is here to stay but it requires to be used quickly, efficiently and with a far greater degree of common sense.