Thursday, 12 March 2009

The institutionalisation of dissent

As a brief interlude to my more measured musings on umpires, discussion over at Homer's blog has made me wonder about the trial referral system. There was a lot of talk about weeding out dodgy decisions about dismassals, but perhaps the bigger effect was the "decriminilisation" of dissent in the form of asking for a tv replay. I don't want to get into the question of whether decriminalisation takes away some of the danger of drugs and things like that, but I wonder whether it softens the power of dissent.

What was once beyond the pale and subject to the usual (inconsistent) application of the Code of Conduct is now provided for in the playing conditions. Now it is allowed, it is crazy to think of anyone being fined for suggesting the third umpire could have been consulted, but at the same time, players are expected to understand that this can only be done at certain times. Once there are signals from the dressing room, or once there have already been two unsuccessful requests, players are left regretting their own actions in chossing when to refer, rather than simply angrily blaming the umpire, even though the umpire is just as much to blame as they always were. If I were even more cynical than I am, I might think that was the intent of the system...

12 comments:

All Sports Fans said...

I think more often than not the ground umpires get into an embarrassing situation. I think umpiring is a respectable profession and I personally would rather have a one-off bad decision than seeing an umpire be embarrassed.

But that's just me...

raj said...

Jonathan, nice post. Yes, players are given more responsibility now and if this is continued, a player might even be evaluated based on his referral judgement skills, which is good.
For instance, Devon Smith, who already is not contributing to the team, made it worse by referring a plumb lbw. I hope his team mates gave him hell later - in a normal situation, he might have dissented and his mates might have casually supported him even though it was plumb. Now that it affects their bottomline, it is more likely that they tell him what he deserves to know - that he let his imaginary sense of injustice affect his team - Hinds could have referred his dismissal and got a reprieve.

Again, I dont know if Ricky and co. will ever berate a team mate even if the TV replays show the umpire to be correct - Ricky always seems to believe that he is always right and his team mates can never err. I am sure he will continue to do it whatever be the contra evidence. However, that is an exception - Ricky is uniquely smug and self-righteous. I am sure the rest of the cricket world will not be so stupid.

Jonathan said...

Raj, I agree that it is good for players to be encouraged to be more realistic about their concerns with umpires. It's also in general good for the game to be more about the players, not the umpires. However, from the point of view of watching (or even playing) a cricket contest, I'm not sure that it's any better for matches to turn on how well players use referrals than it is for them to turn on umpiring decisions. Is choosing when to refer really a skill we want to emphasise?

raj said...

Jonathan, yes I would say so. The Devon Smith example tells clearly why. I am sure even Ricky would think twice before supporting a stupid team mate who refers a plumb decision - in the current situation, if a decision is plumb, and a Ricky Ponting team member doesnt accept it, Ricky will blindly support his player irrespective of the truth. He wouldnt bother if it was really plumb and the umpire was correct - his player is always correct for him.
But if it affects his bottomline, then guys like Ricky will be forced to confront the truth and tick his player off - and that can only be good for the game.

More importantly, already we can see that teams have less scope to blame the umpire - Strauss and co. wasted their referrals and didnt open their mouth on subsequent plumb lbws not given for Monty.
This is good. Umpires make mistakes - players being given the power and encouraged to take decsions means they can understand the pressure of having to take a split second decision. There will actually be more empathy for umpires.

Jonathan said...

It's happening again in Cape Town now... the SAffers have missed an apparent chance and referred one that wasn't out. They certainly haven't got the idea!

I completely agree that it is good to force the players to think more reasonably about these things, but I'm still not comfortable with a team gaining an actual advantage in the game because they are better referrers.

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