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The umpire strikes back: Does cricket rely too much on technology?

Has cricket started to depend on technology too much?

The progression of the standard of technology has not only enhanced the game as a spectacle, but also gives fans an inside look of the match with helmet cams, Spidercam, stump microphones and on-field player microphones for commentary chat.

However, technology that changes outcomes in games is potentially overruling the world’s best umpires and also making them second-guess their judgments.

In the last Test against the West Indies, this technology came into play a number of times, and often to the detriment of the Australian team.

Three wickets were reversed including two dismals of Carlos Brathwaite after it became clear that the bowler had actually bowled a no-ball.

All of these reviews on the front foot placing were not instigated by the on-field umpires, but rather from the third umpire doing the mandatory check as the batter makes his way from the field.

It then begs the question that Brett Lee asked at the tea break – if the umpires had missed those three no-balls, what’s to say that they didn’t miss a heap more that didn’t result in wickets? In a tight game, these could be vital.

It does make me wonder about the future of the umpire.

Will our game evolve so much that only the players take the field, and the umpires use the cameras, microphones and other technology at their disposal to give their decisions?

Yes, this may make the game more accurate, however I believe it would be a huge loss to the game if this happens.

The game would become intermittent, and in my opinion, cricket isn’t cricket without the umpire.

If cricket was to eventually go down that path, our reliance on technology could be our downfall. We already saw the DRS have a fault with Hawkeye not working for one of Australia’s reviews to overturn a not-out decision.

This saw them retain their review and continue the game with the umpire’s decision standing.

That in itself makes me wonder how accurate some of the technology is. We already see that if the ball on the Hawkeye hasn’t hit the stumps with more than half of the ball’s width, it is deemed “umpire’s call”.

For a fielding side attempting to overturn a “not out” decision, I can imagine that this would be frustrating considering the ball is, in theory, still hitting the stumps.

Just like when Hawkeye didn’t work, the fielding side should retain their challenge if this happens. Their challenge wasn’t wrong by any means – we just don’t have the technology to definitively give the batter out in those circumstances.

If we are to depend on technology, and become more dependent on it in the future with greater advancements, we need to be prepared to have the technology fail at some point or another.

Otherwise, we need to make adjustments to things like the review system to ensure that if the technology isn’t good enough to give an accurate decision, teams aren’t disadvantaged from attempting to overturn the umpire’s decision by using the available DRS.

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