22 May 2008

Atherton argues for caution over use of technology

As all Cricket Burble's readers know, I'm very much a champion of the use of technology to aid umpiring decisions. It is only a matter of time and, in my opinion, discussions should be turning to how to allow umpires use of technology while not slowing down the game every time an appeal is made. At the present rate of change, that's a decade away though.

However, in the interests of a balanced argument, I'd urge you to read Mike Atherton's article in The Times today. He urges caution but he also makes clear that some errors were made in the England v New Zealand Test at Lords.....errors, I should add that haven't been added to the list of Cricket Burble wrong decisions yet (they will be when I get time!). Both Vaughan and McCullum should have been out in their 30s which would have made for an entirely different Test match. This seems to me to make the case for further use of technology, but Atherton does a good job of explaining the high skill level of the two umpires, Bucknor and Taufel in difficult circumstances and makes a good argument for caution.

However, when it is agreed that 3 out of 13 close decisions were wrong, it just goes to show that even the very best umpires in the world don't stand a chance without the aid of technology. That's over 23%!! Those concerned over the impact technology could have on the game often quote figures in the high 90%s for accurate decision making, but that is a meaningless stat given the optimism of many appeals. When you start considering that getting on for a quarter of the decisions from "proper" appeals are wrong, the argument for using technology appears to me to be an unstoppable one, especially if you read the article titled "Hawk-Eye goes to College" in this month's Wisden Cricketer which suggests that in tests Hawk-Eye was about a centimetre out only.

Unless you aren't interested in the best team winning, or for individual's results to be a true reflection of their skill, the argument for technology seems to be stronger than ever to me, even if it doesn't to Mike Atherton.

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