Alex Massie

Cricketing Replay

Text settings

Regular readers may not be surprised that I'm sceptical of the benefits of the new referral system being trialled in the Sri Lanka-India series. This morning's events at Edgbaston demonstrate why. Kevin Pietersen was given out caught in the gully off Jacques Kallis. Replays and the "Snickometer" suggested that he'd hit his pad, not the ball, before it spooned up to Prince. So far so good: refer this to the Third Umpire and he'll say that Pietersen is not out caught. But he might also mention that he looks as though he is out LBW. But the umpire in the middle can't really say to Pietersen, "OK, so you didn't hit it so you're out LBW instead". Result: muddle. Equally, all the technological aids available can't really help much in deciding whether Vaughan hit his first delivery or not. Better then to leave the decision to the man in the white coat.

More importantly still, using extra technology, let alone a referall system, further undermines the authority of the umpires in the middle. Since the game is predicated upon the umpire's word being the law, this is more than unfortunate.

As it is, we know that replays can often only further confuse the issue (most obviously with the question of whether catches have carried or not). The referral system being trialled seems likely to exacerbate rather than alleviate the situation.

And why is it thought necessary anyway? Human error is part of the game and that applies to the Umpires just as much as it does to the players. Ah, they say, but we can reduce the number of mistakes! Well, maybe. But not necessarily so. Look at rugby union: video referees have proven to be just as fallible as their comrades on the pitch. The same is true for the replay officials in American football. In fact the only sport in which I can think replay technology has been useful may be tennis.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleSocietycricket