The International Cricket Council (ICC) has announced that it will trial the airing of conversations between umpires during the forthcoming One-Day International series between Australia and South Africa.
The trial will mean that any conversation between the on-field umpire and third umpire can be made available to television to air to viewers. However, they will only allow conversations between the umpires that concern umpire referrals, consultations and DRS player reviews.
The ICC are hoping that by allowing this to happen they can give viewers the opportunity to understand the role of the umpire and the pressures involved. The umpires role is often seen as a thankless and lonely job after all.
The game of Rugby has used microphones on their umpires for some time now.
So will this be a good addition to the cricketing experience for viewers?
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A step forward
On the face of it I believe it will be good to listen to the thought process and reasoning of the umpires during their decision-making process. It is not an easy job and technological advances have meant that umpires are having their decisions questioned by players and viewers more often. We will see, and now hear, how difficult an umpires job really is.
I am sure umpires themselves will welcome this insight into their world which is a hugely important part of a cricket match but has always been seen as a bit of a closed book to outsiders.
It will certainly add to the viewing experience and the ICC must be applauded for trying to add more excitement to the game because the game needs to continually evolve in order to compete with other sports.
However, will umpires now feel as though they have to be the stars of the show now they have the opportunity?
Stealing the spotlight
The game is about the players, not the umpires. Whilst the umpires do play a crucial role they will never be the main attraction and hopefully they will realise this. After all umpires have become icons of the game previously without the need for extra exposure. Umpires such as Dickie Bird and Billy Bowden spring to mind.
Could the ICC go one step further and air all conversations that take place during a game?
It could be very interesting if this was the case as we, as viewers, could be subjected to the sledging that is common place in cricket and see how umpires deal with incidents between players as well as their general management of the game.
Where could it lead?
Could the ICC eventually air what the players say via the stump microphone? This would have to be heavily censored at times but it would give great insight into what happens on a professional cricket field. It could also discourage players from going overboard in the mental disintegration of opponents when at times it can get personal.
The Australia-South Africa series, where the trial will take place, is very rarely dull so the umpires will no doubt be placed under increased pressure from two groups of players who are determined to win no matter what the cost. It will be interesting to see if the trial is deemed a success or not.
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