Umpires to be wired up to eachother

From the ICC:

The ICC has decided to link cricket umpires through wire to enable them to communicate with each other during a match.

Announcing this in London, ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed said that trials of connecting the umpires would be held at the Johnnie Walker Super Series in Australia in October.

The two umpires on the field will be linked to each other, the third umpire, and microphones in the ground near the stumps, he said.

“Let’s get umpires used to this form of technology before we give them the added pressure,” The News quoted Speed as saying.

Meanwhile, the ICC Board also approved changes to one-day cricket likely to be trialed in the three-match series between England and Australia starting next month.

Under the changes, the teams will be allowed to a substitute to strengthen their batting or bowling. If, for example, a batsman is not used during an innings, he can be substituted to add an extra bowler. And, the field restrictions currently in force for the first 15 overs of a 50-over match will be extended for longer.

“We’ll trial these changes for 10 months and, if they make the game more interesting, then we’ll keep them,” said Speed.

No great change in the communications Umpires already have with eachother (they use walky-talkies at the moment to talk to the 3rd umpire: this “change” allows the two on-field umpires to chat to eachother, perhaps share a joke or laugh at a tail-ender). The significant change is – unless I’ve mis-interpreted the wording – they’ll have “access,” or will be able to listen to, the stump mic.

Like the other changes the ICC have recently made, which have caused a storm here at The COU, I’m equally confused about these. On occasion, umpires do have trouble hearing nicks and edges. Yesterday, and I can’t remember who the players were, an Australian nicked the ball behind – and no one, apart from the ‘keeper Jones, heard the edge. David Shepherd shrugged his shoulders, and it wasn’t until we saw (or heard) on TV there was a definate edge.

How distracting, how helpful will this technology be for umpires? There are now more aids for them than ever, with the option of referring dodgy decisions to the bloke upstairs (which they are obviously more inclined to do for fear of public retribution/humiliation). And I guess the percentage of correct decisions made for edges off the bat will increase – but at what cost? The game, and its changes, are moving so quickly – and the addition of technology has certainly been a boon for the couch-potatoes (raise your hand) – however, perhaps it’s my fear that increased use of technology removes umpires’ control of a match situation, and also has the effect of “de-romancing” the great game.

Ultimately, if it helps the umpires – and if the umpires want it – we should just accept it. The game’s rules, regulations and changes are moving along at a frightening pace though.

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