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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Umpires are always forgotten in a cricket match

Umpires must have the most thankless game in the cricketing sport - the only others who come close to them are the selectors of every nation. Both are expected to do their job without any errors - if the umpires get most of their decisions right, it is part of their job responsibility. But, if they err on even one decision in a series, they are looked down upon by all the players, management and media.

This is not to say that the umpires dont make wrong decisions. Some of them make mistakes that will make even the juniors cringe. Mostly the errors are the lbw decisions - it is very difficult for the umpires to find out in a split-second whether the ball has pitched in line with the stumps, judge the height of the ball when it hit the pad, guess the swing/spin imparted on the ball, take into account the distance the batsman stands outside the crease. All these parameters have to be considered while taking the decisions - the other one being the ball hitting the bat!!! Technology has improved quite a bit in recent years - but even now, it is very difficult to make out whether a batsman is 100% out. There is always an element of doubt.

If one can categorize the umpires into three categories - the Bad, the Average and the Good - based on the number of wrong decisions they give, it will be a close decision. But, giving the right or wrong decision is not the only parameter. How strict they are on the ground in enforcing the laws and how much do the players respect the umpires is also another angle that needs to be looked into.

Steve Bucknor, Billy Doctrove are some of the umpires who have been consistently making errors - they definitely make up the Bad set of umpires, taking all the necessary parameters in consideration. Umpires like Asad Rauf, Rudy Koertzen and Billy Bowden are known to be good on most days - probably having the odd off-day on the field. They would be the ones falling in the second category. Daryl Harper and Aleem Dar are probably two of the best umpires on field today. They have been the ones who have raised the level of umpiring consistently, while not compromising on their responsibilities and duties on ground. Some of the English umpires like Peter Willey have done a great service, but because of their reluctance to travel, they are forced to stand in the minor games.
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