In a move that was much needed in international cricket, the ICC has decided to allow TV umpires to call no-balls for overstepping for a temporary period. The apex cricket body has decided to test this system on a trial basis for the next six months for a number of ODIs and not all.
This system has been used previously – in the ODI series between England and Pakistan in 2016 – but this time the ICC plans to implement it on a much wide scale.
“The idea is the third umpire will be presented an image of the front foot landing within a few seconds. He would communicate to the on-field umpire that a no-ball has been delivered, so every delivery on the field would be played as a fair delivery until called otherwise,” Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s general manager for cricket operations, was quoted as saying to an Indian sports website.
In the past few seasons, several cricket matches have been marred with umpiring howlers; most notably amongst them have been the failure of the on-field umpires of missing front-foot no-balls. In several cases, these missed no-balls have led to match-altering situations and have caused much heartburn to the team affected and their fans.
For a while now, the idea of TV umpires taking complete control over the front foot no-ball decision has been much debated in cricketing circles. Because when you have technology which is steadily improving, it is prudent to use it to ensure that as many correct decisions are made as possible. This trial move by the ICC is perhaps a step in that direction. Judging a front foot no-ball isn’t easy by the on-field umpire and there are bound to be some misses in pressure situations.
Also, these days on-umpires tend to go to the TV umpire after certain dismissals to check the front foot no-ball. It makes sense to give the entire responsibility of the front foot no-balls to the TV umpire and let the on-field umpires focus only on the other decisions. It is the way forward. And it is a step in the right direction.
It will be interesting to see which will be the ODI series that the ICC identifies to use this system in the coming months. With the ICC World T20 slated for next year, boards are focusing more on T20I series than ODIs in the coming few months. The Afghanistan- West Indian ODI series in India in November this year might be one to go for or the West Indies-India ODI series in December.
Many might question that why the ICC is choosing this system on a trial basis and not implementing it a permanent thing. Because it is a little complicated. In 2018, there were about 84,000 balls delivered around the world in limited overs cricket. It isn’t easy to monitor the no-ball in each of those deliveries even by the TV umpire. Then, there is also the case that currently there are 104 members under the ICC who play T20I cricket any many of their matches aren’t even televised. In those instances, using this method isn’t possible.
Hence, it will take time, planning and resources to ensure that TV umpires are given the complete responsibility of adjudging no-balls. But this trial run is a very significant and crucial step that might pave the way for the future. It will help in getting more correct decisions made and that is, after all, what matters the most.