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Umpire's Call

It is not often that you find batsmen pleading the case of bowlers in the eternal struggle between bat and ball. But there has to be first and this is it.

I must be a bit slow because it has taken me a long time to reconcile the pluses and minuses of the Decision Review System, despite being basically a supporter. But a "not out" umpiring lbw decision on appeal from Ben Stokes against Amla got me thinking.

England asked for a review which showed a good 45% of the ball hitting the top of the stumps. But in these cases anything less than a full 50% of the ball hitting, means that
the decision remains with the original judgement. Which is unfair in one major sense.

Were the umpire to sense it was a marginal call but give it OUT, then that would give a just and proper reward to the bowler. If the review showed that the ball was missing, then no harm done - the batsman is reprieved and the game continues without incident.

By favouring the "NOT OUT" option there was indeed harm done. Harm to the bowler's figures and harm to the proper progress of the game. The only possible harm of giving a completely incorrect decision would be to the umpire's reputation. But he is already in the dock for giving a not out decision for a ball which would have sent the bails flying.

My message to umpires must therefore be to give the "marginals" OUT in the best interests of the game.

Oh! And another thing from yesterday's first day of the Test Match at the Wanderers - or is the Joburg ground called something else these days? No matter.

The Bazuma run out. Commentators deliberated on whether it was too short a single. Only one of them, the thoughtful and reliable Michael Atherton, mentioned the tell-tale matter of " ball watching" by the non striker. The otherwise admirable Mr Bazuma was brazenly guilty of turning his head to follow the ball instead of trusting the batsman and responding instantly to the call. Had he done so, he would have been home with yards to spare. The only good and decent thing he did was to try to complete the run. I can think of one Yorkshire opening bat of my time ( who ran me out the first time I batted with him) who would have taken the precaution of saving himself!


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