ICC's Cricket Committee set to back concept of 'umpire's call'
In an interesting development, the ICC's Cricket Committee has recommended that the concept of "umpire's call" should remain intact. The recommendation will be given preference at the governing body's chief executive committee meeting, scheduled for a virtual meet in the coming week. Notably, the umpire's call, which is an essential element of the DRS, has faced backlash by the players of late.
Recently, India captain Virat Kohli said the umpire's call is "creating a lot of confusion". Kohli went on to state that there should not be debate over how much of the ball is hitting or clipping the stumps. "If the ball is clipping the stumps, it should be out - whether you like it or not you lose the review," he asserted.
The umpire's call is an element of Decision Review System (DRS) that is used while referring lbw decisions. It remains intact in case of inconclusive evidence from the referral. Notably, the on-field umpire's original decision (umpire's call) is upheld when the ball-tracking technology "indicates a marginal decision in respect of either the Impact Zone or the Wicket Zone".
The aforementioned Impact Zone is a three-dimensional space that is used to determine where the ball hits the pad in lbw decisions. Similarly, the Wicket Zone (two-dimensional area) is used to determine whether a ball would have gone on to hit the stumps. Both the zones extend from the base of stumps (outside of each of off and leg) to the base of bails.
The ICC Cricket Committee headed by former Indian captain Anil Kumble doesn't echo Kohli's sentiments. It is understood that the committee has taken on-board suggestions from other match officials, broadcasters, and Hawk-Eye, the ball-tracking technology supplier regarding this. The committee believes the umpire's call should stay mainly because it was acknowledged that ball-tracking technology would not be 100 per cent correct.
It remains to be seen how the BCCI will respond to the recommendation of ICC's Cricket Committee. Interestingly, India were the last nation to approve the DRS, which was possible after the ICC shared the findings of an independent assessment on the performance of its technologies. Much akin to this, another rule "soft signal" has also been under the scanner lately.
Several experts and players have slammed this rule due to its flaws. As per a report in ESPNcricinfo, 53 out of 65 reviews (by both the teams) were struck down in the India-England Test series. While 37 were wrongly reviewed, 16 were umpire's calls.