Nitin Menon (R)
Nitin Menon (R)

‘To err is human’ – a truth easily forgotten during close finishes in the Indian Premier League. Be it Kings XI Punjab’s seemingly frustrated co-founder Preity Zinta asking the BCCI to amend umpiring rules or Virender Sehwag’s tongue-in-cheek request to give the man of the match award to the umpire for wrongly calling the run short.

The decision surely deserves scrutiny but is the mockery of the umpires, especially by former players, and the call to further involve technology in cricket justified?

Free Press Journal talks to a veteran Mumbai-based BCCI umpire and MCA’s elite member, who didn’t wish to be named, to decode what exactly umpires go through after being under lockdown for six months and how does our reliance on technology affects the game?

“Coming out of the lockdown and umpiring in pressure situations is a different ballgame altogether. But India does have a lull period anyways during the rainy season when no cricket is played. So timeline isn’t a problem.”

In fact, the BCCI umpire says including more technology will only harm the game considering the hours taken by current teams to finish the match on time.

“Whatever happened during the match was a one-off aberration. Nitin Menon is an ICC elite umpire and one of the best in the game. Normally he is spot on.”

He added: “The ICC has taken so much out of the game and brought it under technology that umpiring has been reduced to redundancy. By involving more technology they are taking the charm out of the game.”

He said even the National Basketball League (NBA) after years of trying to add more technology in decision-making now prefers to trust their referees and umpires.

“Already it is taking around two minutes per ball in the IPL. A 20-over match is taking around 4 hours to finish. What do you think is the reason behind the delay? It’s technology, referrals and strategic timeouts.”

In domestic tournaments like Syed Mushtaq Ali, captains and teams are heavily penalised for not completing an inning inside allotted 95 minutes. Even before the decision to have no balls checked by third umpires, it was hardly one per cent of all decisions where a no ball wouldn’t be called. Technology needs to make game more fast, not make it redundant,” he said.

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Free Press Journal