Colombo: An experimental rule allowing players to seek a second opinion on umpiring decisions will not undermine the on-field officials' authority, a top cricket official said here on Wednesday.
The rule, on trial in the current three-Test series between India and Sri Lanka, allows a batsman or fielding captain to request a review of any decision by referring it to the third official monitoring television replays.
"The umpire's word is still final," said Dave Richardson, general manager of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
"The way I look at it is that it is an extension of the appeal. It doesn't undermine their roles. Their skill as umpires is still paramount. They have to make the decision (after consulting the TV umpire)."
Each team will be allowed three unsuccessful review requests per innings and if one is successful they will get an additional appeal.
So far, only the on-field umpires determine if a decision needs to be passed on to TV officials.
"In fact even when it goes for review, they (on-field umpires) have to make the final decision. So the decision-making starts and ends with them," said Richardson.
"We have given the players an opportunity to initiate a consultation process or as we like to call it, a review process as opposed to a challenge process.
"I know a lot of people will say that it is contrary to the spirit of the game and you are challenging the umpire's decision.
"But what is better for the game -- the umpires making mistakes and being accused of cheating and (cricket) boards criticising umpires or a system where the umpire is given an opportunity to review his decision?"
The ICC decided to trial the review in March, but it was delayed after England and South Africa failed to reach an agreement on it for their ongoing series.
"We are relying on whatever technology is available," said Richardson, former South African wicket-keeper who played 42 Tests and 122 one-day internationals before retiring in 1998.
"Whatever help it can give the umpires is an additional bonus. If the worst comes to the worst, if the technology fails, the on-field umpires still make the decision. So we are no worse off.
"I am confident it will work quite well. We must not forget what the real objective of this process is and that is to avoid obvious and clear mistakes."
Richardson said the experimental rule was different from the one applied in the English domestic one-day cricket last season, which was widely regarded as unsuccessful.
"In England, the TV umpire would actually over-rule the on-field umpire. In our case, it is a consultation between the on-field and the TV umpires and the on-field guy still makes the final decision," said Richardson.
"Also in England, the problem was they had very limited technology available. In this case, we have better technology."
A player can make a request for a review by making a "T" sign with his hands.
The rule will apply for all dismissals except "timed out" when an incoming batsman is out if he takes too long to arrive at the crease after the fall of the previous wicket.