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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 September, 2004, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Wired for sound
By Anna Thompson

How often do you think an umpire gets a decision wrong on the cricket field?

Well, research into the matter has revealed nine times out of 10, the umpires get it right.

David Shepherd
Umpire Shepherd will be wired up in the Champions Trophy
But this means in a Test match, when both teams are aiming to take 20 wickets each to win the game, up to four dismissals could have been called wrongly.

The International Cricket Council would like the correct decision percentage increased to at least 94%

So in an attempt to achieve this they are trialling the use of new technology at the ICC Champions Trophy, being held in England in September.

Firstly, the umpires will be wired-up to the stump microphones through ear-pieces.

It is not the first time it has happened as it has been tested in South African domestic cricket, but it is the first time it will have been used in a major tournament.

The ICC said the trial in South Africa was successful as it:

  • Improved decision-making

  • Forged better communication between the umpires

  • Improved control of players behaviour.

    David Richardson, the ICC's general manager of cricket, said: "We want to use technology without compromising the role of the on-field umpires.

    "Cricket is a game played by humans and should be umpired by humans.

    "When we did the testing in South Africa we found players behaviour improved because the umpires could hear the sledging by the wicket-keepers."

    Another trial at the Champions Trophy will see television umpires making the decisions on no-balls.

    There are advantages to using technology but sometimes you lose something special when taking the human element away
    Stephen Fleming
    Richardson explained: "The reason for this is to improve the on-field umpires decision-making at the batsman's end.

    "The television umpire will make the decision as he sees it in real time."

    The Champions Trophy has been used before as a guinea pig for technology.

    In the last tournament in Sri Lanka two years ago, there was a trial of "hawkeye" technology ruling on line decisions, including lbws, however the policy was never adopted fully.

    The no-ball and stump microphone trials are still subject to approval by the ICC's chief executive committee in June.

    But one kind of research definitely going ahead will be that looking into spin bowling.

    Richardson said the ICC did not have sufficient data on spin bowlers and said this would aid its future policy making in the light of the current row involving Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan.

    So what do the players who will be taking part in the tournament make of the technological innovations?

    New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming has mixed views on the increasing use of technology.

    He said: "There are advantages to using technology but sometimes you lose something special when taking the human element away."

    Australia batsman Michael Clarke said it would take the on-field umpires some time to get used to the innovations.

    He added: "I think the players will be fine with it but it will probably be a little bit strange for the umpires at first."





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