Monday, February 28, 2011


The title has made it obvious what this is about. I was confused for a moment when Billy Bowden signaled Ian Bell not out on that ball off Yuvraj Singh. I thought that Billy must have made a mistake and will raise his crooked finger soon... because Bell was already walking off. Then he called Bell back and the Indian fielders surrounded him to ask whether it was something they didn't know about or whether his head was not in his place! It turned out to be the latter...

I attribute that one moment as the reason why England were able to tie the game that was India's for the taking. Andrew Strauss batted like a dream... but a chase such as that is possible only with partnerships. And Ian Bell was his partner in what could have been a match-clinching partnership, which shouldn't have been so long but for Billy Bowden.

The 2.5 metre rule of UDRS is as ridiculous as any rule I have come across. And I don't get it why the law makers did not see how absurd it is when they framed it. Do they not run simulations to check whether the rule has any bad effects? In this case, the 2.5 metre rule only has the wrong effects. Here's why...

If that rule is implemented the way it was implemented today, there is no point in asking for reviewing a leg before decision by a fielding captain when someone like Kevin Pietersen is batting. Because even if the ball pitches on middle (RED), impact is on middle (RED) and goes on to strike the middle of middle (RED), the decision will always have to be not out because the umpire's original decision was not out as Pietersen plays his game a long way in front of the stumps.

In short, the moment a batsman comes more than 2.5 metres from the stumps, the UDRS becomes redundant... because no matter how plumb it looks, the ground umpire's original Not Out call will stand. In a way, insertion of this clause of 2.5 metre in the UDRS rule seems to have changed the law of Leg Before Wicket itself. UDRS was introduced to assist with LBW decisions, not to change the law of LBW!

From what I understand, this 2.5 metre guideline has been inserted because the makers of this technology believe that if the ball has to travel more than 2.5 metres after impact, its ball projection accuracy reduces. Fair point. They have claimed that their technology is not perfect and I have no problem with that!

But they say that the accuracy reduces... it does not say that accuracy goes down to zero. In such a case as was played out today, where the ball was striking half way up between the middle and off... even if we consider that the path projection may not have been completely accurate, it seemed obvious that the ball would still have hit the stumps.

It might have been on the off stump or on the middle stump... it might have been a little higher or a little lower... but there was no way on earth that that particular ball would have done anything but hit the stumps had Ian Bell not existed. In such scenarios, it pains me to see that the umpires (both ground umpire and the third umpire) do not make use of their common sense and grey cells to make the decision. This one was a very daft piece of decision-making on display today.

The purpose of UDRS is to implement a technology that assists the umpires... and not replaces them! If the 2.5 metre guideline is going to be a decisive rule, then as I said earlier, for a batsman like Kevin Pietersen, UDRS becomes redundant. However, had the 2.5 metre guideline been used as a suggestive rule, then not only would Ian Bell have been dismissed and the result of this match possibly different, but the UDRS would also have has a lot more credibility. It would certainly need some now!


Mahek said...

It works both ways though. If an umpire rules in favour of the bowler in such a scenario the batsman can't get it reversed since the impact was 2.5 metres from the stumps. Granted it doesn't happen too often but it happens nonetheless.

Also, I've seen umpires overrule their decision even if the impact was that far down the pitch. Nasser Hussain talked about it on air. He said that umpires were advised to reverse their decision only in exceptional circumstances and that this was definitely one of those. But then no amount of technology can make up for Billy's stupidity. Just be happy that we would've lost the Mohali test had Billy not screwed up on a plumb LBW.

Unknown said...

Mahek, if the ball is striking the stumps and all other conditions satisfied (even if he is more than 2.5 m down), he has no reason to get his decision overturned. He is Out!

And where the ball is not striking the stumps, or impact is not in line or the ball is pitched outside leg, then irrespective of whether he is more than 2.5 m don or not, he is anyways not out and will have his decision overturned.

That is why I said that this rule affects the fielding team only. And yes, it's rare... but then UDRS was introduced to reduce howlers, which are also rare! Why create one howler!

About what Nasser Hussain talked off on air, I am not sure but I think one such decision occurred in one of the World Cup matches itself. I don't recall and will have to recheck... but I think Simon Taufel was the umpire.

As for Billy's stupidity, what can anyone say! Mohali Test still felt good because the wrong decision affected both sides and eventually, it may be argued that they evened out. But in this case, it was a howler that changed the course of a match.

ICC should be thanking that stars that this match was moved out of Eden Gardens. Had this decision by Billy Bowden come at Eden Gardens, we might well have seen a few chairs on the ground!

tracerbullet007 said...

I agree entirely with what you say...but i would add that billy is not at fault here, as this is the stupid ruling which the ICC expects the umpires to adhere to...if they can trust the technology to be accurate about the ball pitching in line and hitting the stumps, then they should trust its judgment when it says that the ball would hit despite it pitching 2.5m away....why do they want to give only this aspect to the umpire...i actually admire billy for sticking by his stupid decision, even though he knew he was gonna get stick for it later!

Unknown said...

@tracerbullet007, I'll tell you why I lay the blame for this on Bill's shoulder. For that, read what the ICC rule book says about such cases:

Appendix 5, Clause 3.3, Sub-clause i (iii) -

"If a ‘not out’ decision is being reviewed, in order to report that the ball is hitting the stumps, the evidence provided by technology should show that the centre of the ball would have hit the stumps within an area demarcated by a line drawn below the lower edge of the bails and down the middle of the outer stumps.

However, in instances where the evidence shows that the ball would have hit the stumps within the demarcated area as set out above but that the point of impact is greater than 250 cm from the stumps, the third umpire shall notify the on-field umpire of:
a) The distance from the wickets to the point of impact with the batsman
b) The approximate distance from point of pitching to point of impact
c) Where the ball is predicted to hit the stumps.

In such a case, the on-field umpire shall have regard to the normal cricketing principles concerning the level of certainty in making his decision as to whether to change his decision."

I think in the case of Ian Bell, Billy would have adhered to 'the normal cricketing principles concerning the level of certainty' if he had changed his decision!

Anonymous said...

Excellent argument. And a more detailed description of the law than even Cricinfo's piece!

While I'm not too upset by this mistake (as it wasn't a massive howler going by historical standards of umpiring...I mean umpires usually give the benefit of the doubt to batsmen in lbws), it was certainly a mistake!

The only doubt could have been about whether Bell was struck on offstump or just outside it...for it certainly wasn't going down the legside or over the stumps...even based on just the real-time vision. So once Billy was told it was striking in line, he really shouldn't have given any benefit of doubt to the batsman.

They need to look at this law can't have 2.5m for both spinners and fast bowlers...especially when the batsman gets hit well below the knee. This is 1 law (and its interpretation) that needs to be refined further.


Soulberry said...

Excellent! Well pointed out sir!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Anon and SB!

More Than Just A Game said...


Great one sir!

What next? Hope the ICC will decide to grid out the entire pitch to make sure that we can measure how far the batsman's toes were away from the pitch. Sheesh!

Mahek said...

What if according to Billy's normal cricketing principles told him there wasn't enough to suggest the ball was going on to hit the stumps? It sounds stupid because almost everyone would say the ball was going on to hit the stumps, but that doesn't mean Billy has to feel the same way. There have been similar decisions that were overturned & maybe in those instances the umpire only wanted to check the point of impact and/or where the ball pitched as he was otherwise sure the ball was going on to hit the stumps. Spinners have always suffered when it comes to LBWs because for decades umpires have been happy to rule in favour of the batsman as soon as he plants his front foot down the crease.

Unknown said...

Mahek, in fact, that is exactly what I'd like to know. It would be interesting to see whether Billy really felt that the ball would not hit the stumps.

There was no problems with where it pitched or where the impact was. To the naked eye, there might have been a bit of a doubt about the impact outside off, but the Hawk Eye showed it in complete red... not even that orange / yellow original decision thing!

So the only two explanations possible for the final "Not Out" ruling are:

A. Like you said, Billy felt it might not hit the stumps, which is absolutely stupid. I mean that would be taken as an example of incompetent piece of umpiring!

B. Though many people might not agree, but I think it is very possible that Billy himself was very unsure about what to do in case of such an event. I don't think he knew that there is a need to apply "normal cricketing principles" and overturn the decision. It is quite possible that he must have assumed that whenever that yellow / orange thing shows up on a review (instead of a complete red or a complete green), the original decision HAS TO STAND, whether it is correct or not!

Golandaaz said...

As if the LBW law before UDRS was not complicated enough....

Now UDRS has made it impossible to enforce.

Again I believe the technology is not the problem, its the process.

I have always argued, when an umpire thinks he needs technology, he needs to (in conjunction with the 100 other off-field umpires) use the technology and make a decision.

There should be no player referrals, that would completely eliminate the concept of "original decisions"

Unknown said...

Gol, honestly I do not mind player referrals in the way it currently is if there are certain improvements.

The problem that I have with umpire referrals, as was tried in Super Series 2005, is that the umpires then tend to refer every decision, even the dead duck plumb ones! That is a pure waste of time!

And where the umpires don't consult technology, then the players themselves tell the umpires that you have technology available for unlimited usage, so use it... what's the harm!

I think that this current process of UDRS can work out, subject to some improvements.

Vidooshak said...

Shridhar -

So, the only explanation that I can think of for Billy turning down the appeal and sticking to his original decision is that he was pissed at Dhoni for the Zaheer incident and decided to show him who's boss. Per the ICC guidelines, he could have done either. He CHOSE to favor the batsman. Billy ain't stupid, nor does he lack common sense. It's Dhoni who can learn to respect the officials. SP will agree, I'm sure.

Unknown said...

Vidooshak, I don't think that's the case! Not only do I think that umpires don't do that sort of a thing in these days, but also the fact that if you claim Billy isn't stupid, he would have thought of the consequences as well.

After that decision, say if Strauss was to get out and Bell to go on to make a match-winning hundred, then the consequences could have been disastrous for him. He does know what happened to Steve Bucknor... the last time when an umpire stepped on the wrong foot of the Indian team, and thereby the BCCI!

And even if what you claim is true... that Billy did it purposely, I don't think Dhoni is at fault for this decision. Dhoni might have been at fault for arguing with the umpire, but a field of play is no place for an international umpire to avenge that grudge... especially in a World Cup match!

And I would still understand if the umpire were to start favouring the other team for marginal decision... but that LBW was not a marginal call. It was a very blatant case of LBW, which is why it's gotten so much of publicity!