In an age of ever-evolving technology the decisions of international cricket umpires are scruitinised more than ever.
Technological advances designed to increase the accuracy of decisions at the elite level have led to changes in the role of umpires officiating in these matches.
With instant replays splayed across big screens at matches, fans have an armchair view of the technology available to third umpires when deciphering contentious decisions.
Yet it’s what fans don’t see that that often determines the outcome.
One umpire who does not stand in front of thousands of jeering fans on match day but no doubt feels the wrath of them is the third umpire.
With the advent of the Decision Review System (DRS) the third umpire is becoming increasingly more visible to the fans at the match and at home.
While they may be hidden away within four walls at the stadium, the pressure they are under while making a decision cannot be underestimated.
The slow clap can often be heard as fans will the third umpire to make a hasty decision.
While it may look clear-cut on the big screen at the match, the process that the third umpire must go through to make their determination is more intricate and difficult than what it appears.
Umpires on the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires or the ICC International Panel can be called upon for third umpire duties at international level.
Typically, an umpire’s first encounter with DRS technology is on match day when they are called upon to preside over some of the most contentious decisions that can change the momentum of the game in an instant.
But the International Cricket Council (ICC) is doing its best to change this and better prepare umpires for these high-pressure situations.
In a revolutionary step for umpire training, ICC Umpire Performance & Training Manager Simon Taufel has developed a DRS simulation training program designed to arm international umpires with the skills and confidence to do their job in the third umpire’s box on match day.
Since retiring from international umpiring Taufel has wasted no time implementing measures to ensure the game’s elite match officials are adequately equipped to do their job to the best of their ability.
Cricket Australia (CA) recently teamed with the ICC to bring Taufel’s revolutionary DRS training program down under for the first time ever.
The training session is set up to best mimic match-day conditions from room set up to video feeds and communications devices.
CA’s International Cricket Big Screen Production Trailer (with production partner Virtual Spectator) was utlised to provide the match footage and graphical overlays to the third umpires via a Director and Replay Operator in a way that simulated the feed provided by broadcast in a match environment.
The third umpire was housed separately in a mocked up ‘third umpire room’ complete with monitors and talkback devices linking to the Director and on-field umpires.
CA’s umpires were instructed to follow due process in calling for particular replays and making their determinations and received expert coaching throughout the process.
For umpires who were only experiencing the technology for the first time, bar what they’ve viewed from their living rooms, it was an eye-opener.
The benefits of this training for these international umpires cannot be underestimated according to Taufel.
“As the game keeps changing and evolving and technology keeps changing and improving, so we have to try and, number one, keep up with it but hopefully try and get in front of that and prepare our match officials for a different side of umpiring,” Taufel said.
CA’s Umpire Educator Bob Parry says Australia’s high representation on the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires is a credit to CA’s established umpiring pathway.
“Cricket Australia is committed to producing the best officials in the world and we believe it’s important to be world leaders in umpire education and training.”
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 10 October, 2013 8:59AM AEST