6 December 2009

Benson retires / the UDRS

Rumours seem to abound that, rather than retiring due to ill-health, Mark Benson - the umpire from my home town of Shoreham-by-sea - is retiring at least partly because he is unhappy with the Umpire Decision Review System. One of his decisions - to give Chanderpaul not out caught behind - in the current Australia/West Indies Test was overturned on the basis of some inconclusive TV evidence by Asad Rauf so you can understand his annoyance. But it does sound like he has had a few health issues for a while so it sounds like suggestions that he's retiring because of the UDRS are exaggerated.

Benson was the umpire when the first non-run-out decision was overturned using technology - his decision to give Dilshan out was over-turned and the batsman went on to score a hundred. Ironically, the most recent Test that Dilshan played - the 3rd Test v India involved him being given out when he wasn't in both innings and, with no video replay to turn to, contributed to India winning by an innings. Dilshan scored 125 without really being out but had both his innings cut short.

Predicatably there is a lot of scrutiny on the UDRS and some of Tony Cozier's comments about the failings in the system are issues that the ICC need to deal with - in particular the ability of umpires to use the technology. But the key point to remember is that video reviews have been most criticised when used badly by the umpires! We'll never be able to stop human-error altogether, but we can reduce it, using technology.

As someone who can't understand why people wouldn't advocate anything that gives greater accuracy in decision making, it was interesting to read the comments below Cozier's article. All of a sudden from the UDRS being loathed, there seems to be a lot of support for the UDRS amongst readers on Cricinfo. It's inevitable so we need to get used to it - those that are unhappy need to throw their criticism at the ICC for the way they've rolled it out....not the system itself.