Wired technology to make umpires job easy

Published: Tuesday, May 18, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Umpires wearing ear-pieces and no-balls being called by the third umpire are two of the innovations set to be tested by the International Cricket Council (ICC) at their Champions Trophy One-day tournament in England this September.

ICC general manager David Richardson, speaking at the tournament launch at Lord's on Monday, said: "For the second ICC Champions Trophy in succession we hope to be testing various technological innovations to see if they help umpires in the decision-making process.

"We are hoping to use the 2004 tournament to build on our testing into the use of stump microphone earpieces that began in South Africa last year.

"The plan is for umpires to wear an earpiece that picks up the audio from the stump microphone as the ball passes the batsman.

"The trial will enable us to assess whether the microphones position closer to the action area will provide audible assistance in instances of thin nicks," former South African wicketkeeper Richardson added.

"This may also enable us to trial the deferment of no-ball decisions to the TV Umpire to assess the impact this has on the on-field umpires as the microphones will offer two-way communication."

He added that statistics collected over the last year showed that umpires on the ICC's elite panel for international matches were, on average, getting 92 percent of their decisions correct.

This compared to a 94 percent succes rate in Major League Baseball.

"We are of the opinion that cricket is a more difficult game to umpire than baseball so if we want our umpires to attain a higher percentage of correct decisions we may need to take one of their usual responsibilities out of their domain," Richardson said.

"It should be stressed however that the no-ball element of the trial is contingent on the outcome of preliminary trials before the tournament."

With the controversy over the legitimacy of off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan's action still raging following the Sri Lankan's new world record for most Test wickets, Richardson said the ICC would use the Champions Trophy to conduct more research into slow bowling.

"This research is part of the ICC's on-going commitment to deal with the issue of suspected illegal bowling actions and will be carried out by the human movement specialist Dr Paul Hurrion," Richardson explained.

At the last Champions Trophy tournament, in Sri Lanka in 2002, on-field umpires were for the first time in international matches allowed to consult the TV umpire about lbw decisions.

But that experiment has so far not been repeated in either Test or One-day International cricket.

"The no-ball and stump microphone trials are still subject to final approval by the ICC's chief executives' committee which meets in London in June.

Meanwhile New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said he was relishing the prospect of taking on world champions Australia in the Champions Trophy.

Fleming, in England for the Kiwis Test series against England which stars at Lord's on Thursday, was in the team that won the Champions Trophy in 2000.

This time around they are in the same group as Australia and new boys the United States.

And Fleming said Ricky Ponting's men held no fears for New Zealand.

"We look forward to it, because you've got to beat them or meet them at some stage if you're going to win the competition," Fleming said at Monday's launch. "Early on is often a good time. But we know we have to play well."

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