After Further Review, Instant Replay Comes to Cricket

By Kevin Hilton

Cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Conference, gave the go-ahead for the much-discussed Umpire Decision Review System to be used in Test matches starting in October. The ruling, made during this week’s ICC board meeting at Lord’s in London, will not apply to the Ashes series, adding to the controversy surrounding the innovation.

The UDRS underwent a trial period during England’s tour of the West Indies last winter, when not all responses to the scheme were favourable. In its original form, the UDRS allowed players a maximum of three unsuccessful appeals per inning, with disputed decisions by the on-field umpire referred to the third official. The incident in question would be reviewed using a replay of television coverage and the result relayed to the umpire, who would then decide whether or not to overturn his original ruling.

During the trial, the number of appeals was reduced to two per inning, but there were still reservations from players and officials alike that the system weakened the authority of the on-field umpire.

The ICC’s cricket committee—chaired by Clive Lloyd, a former captain of the West Indies and a superstar of the game in the 1970s and early 1980s—decided that UDRS should become a permanent part of Test cricket, but final approval was needed from the organisation’s Board.

Earlier this year, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat professed his enthusiasm for the UDRS, saying that the trial period had shown that it had a “positive effect on the game”. The system is being introduced in what is described as a “phased rollout” starting in October to allow time for umpire training and “fine-tuning” of the technology.