In a move to eradicate erroneous decisions, the One-Day International (ODI) series between England and Pakistan will see an unprecedented use of technology, where the third umpire will take a call on front-foot no-balls.
There were two incidents this year that stood out. Adam Voges was bowled on seven by Doug Bracewell, but umpire Richard Illingworth wrongly called a no-ball. The Australian went on to make 239. In another instance, at Lord’s, Alex Hales was bowled by Nuwan Pradeep, but got a reprieve because of a similar error in judgement by the umpire. In order to get rid of such howlers from the game, Adrian Griffith, the senior manager for umpires and referees in the International Cricket Council (ICC), requested the cricket governing body to make third umpire a specialist position.
“The cricket committee this year said, we want to look at something to assist the umpires with calling no-balls, because we’ve had the two incidences where no-balls were called and a wicket has fallen – and you can’t reverse it,” Griffith told ESPNcricinfo on Tuesday (August 23). “The cricket committee has said we want to look at something and this is what we’ve put forward to look at. And we’ll trial it and go back with our findings.
“In the games that have been played in England, with Sri Lanka and now Pakistan, we’ve been looking at systems to see how it would work, we’ve had our third umpire sit there and try it out. So we got some feedback on that and we got the sense, yes, it could work. But unless we put it in a live game we really wouldn’t know what it can do, what the limitations are. So first we check the technology and now we put it in a real, live trial.”
Marias Erasmus and Simon Fry are the two men who will get the first-hand experience of the technology in the five-match ODI series on rotational basis. The duo will see the live telecast of the delivery, followed 1.5 seconds later by a shot of the front-foot landing. If, after consulting replays, it is determined a no-ball has been bowled, the third umpire will send a signal to a “pager watch”, similar to the technology used in football to determine whether the ball has crossed the goal-line or not.
Tests have been carried out to assess the technology during the English county summer. The motive was to analyse the third umpire’s workload, who will also be overseeing the DRS and help adjudicate on a variety of other issues including run-outs, stumpings and whether a catch has carried.
Griffith felt that there is every chance that the position would be a unique one. “We’ve been thinking about that anyway, we’ve been looking at the feasibility and taking it towards specialist umpire anyway,” he said. “This may change the third umpire but we were always heading in that direction.”
The game will slow down and it is one of the things which Griffith will have an eye on. However, it would also save time by cutting out the process of checking for the no-ball after every dismissal. Both teams have been informed beforehand that the on-field umpires will not keep a tab on the no-balls and they are happy to see how it goes.
“We want to see what sort of timings it is, the flow of the game, because we don’t want to affect the game adversely,” Griffith said. “So those are the things we’re looking at, the flow of the game, what extra work, what limitations does it put on the third umpire, if any, what the teams think about it, how it affects the broadcast… To understand if what we’re trying to do is fit for purpose.”
Griffith was very optimistic about the technology, “Yes, from what we have seen. In game, there will be things thrown at you that you probably didn’t think of, or hadn’t gone through, or different situations present themselves. But from what we’ve seen, to get to this stage, we’re happy that the technology works and it is worthwhile to go forwards,” he concluded.