'Umpire's Call' in focus as part of laws debate
MCC Cricket Committee meet to discuss 'Umpire's Call', the use of home officials, and the ban on saliva to shine the ball
23 February 2021, 10:57 AM AEST
The MCC's influential World Cricket Committee has recommended home umpires be retained for international matches and also brought the contentious issue of 'Umpire's Call' into focus at their first meeting of the year.
The MCC committee, featuring the likes of Ricky Ponting, Kumar Sangakkara and Shane Warne, met recently to discuss a range of issues in the game, with their opinions to be passed on to the International Cricket Council for consideration.
'Umpire's Call' is part of the Decision Review System when adjudicating lbws and takes into account the decision of the on-field official. It means there must be conclusive video evidence – ball tracking must show more than 50 per cent of the ball to be hitting the stumps – to overturn an on-field decision of not out.
In a statement, the MCC committee said "some members felt (Umpire's Call) was confusing to the watching public, particularly when the same ball could either be Out or Not out depending on the on-field umpire's original decision.
"They felt it would be simpler if the original decision was disregarded on review, and that there was a simple Out or Not out, with no Umpire's Call."
Supporters of the current law on the committee argued that 'Umpire's Call' helps to retain a human element in the decision-making process, and "takes into account the 'benefit of the doubt' that has existed in umpires' decisions for many years".
The opinions of the committee will be passed on to the ICC for discussion later this year.
The committee also debated two laws that were introduced last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic – the use of home umpires, and a ban on using saliva to shine the ball.
The committee noted the quality of umpiring in the past year has been of a "good standard" despite the shift away from neutral officials and recommended the law change be retained in a post-pandemic world.
This is despite the ICC allowing teams an extra unsuccessful review – increasing from two to three – since they determined last year that the introduction of home officials could see "less experienced umpires on duty at times".
"The committee recommended the further utilisation of host-country umpires in international cricket," the MCC statement read.
"It would not only save a lot of unnecessary travel and expense to the game, but it was also felt that it was a boost to host-country umpires to be able to officiate in their home country, and that the best umpires should be able to officiate anywhere in the world.
"Whilst the move away from a necessity for neutral umpires was suggested, it was also recommended that a balance could be struck – such as using one host-country umpire and one neutral umpire as the on-field officials. This would ensure that umpires still had the opportunity to officiate away from their home country, improving their skills in the process. The neutrality of the TV umpire and match referee was also deemed important."
The committee added it would also explore the benefits of using specialist TV umpires in a central location, as is seen in other sports around the globe.
The ban on saliva, introduced last year as a health measure, was also discussed and while making the move permanent gained "a significant level of support", the statement added that "some members felt that eliminating the use of saliva on a permanent basis is premature, and that it may be possible to allow its use once again in a post-COVID world".
It was also announced that the MCC will conduct research this year into the current laws regarding short-pitched bowling, with a final proposal to be determined by the end of the year.
"With research into concussion in sport having increased significantly in recent years, it is appropriate that MCC continues to monitor the Laws on short-pitched bowling, as it does with all other Laws," the statement read.
"The committee discussed the Law and were unanimous that short-pitched bowling is a core part of the game, particularly at the elite level."
The MCC committee will meet again in August.
The MCC Cricket Committee: Mike Gatting – Chairman, John Stephenson – MCC Assistant Secretary (Cricket), Suzie Bates, Sir Alastair Cook, Kumar Dharmasena, Sourav Ganguly, Tim May, Brendon McCullum, Ricky Ponting, Ramiz Raja, Kumar Sangakkara, Ricky Skerritt, Vince van der Bijl, Shane Warne