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March 26, 1999

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Hi-tech help for World Cup umpires

Mark Bradshaw

Recent months have provided more than their due share of umpiring controversies -- and, in the process, instilled in the minds of teams due to take part in the 1999 World Cup that refereeing errors could impact on their performances and results.

The ECB has gone a long way towards stilling those fears, with the decision to install expensive fixed-cameras at all venues, to help with controversial line-decisions.

Japanese electronics giant Panasonic will provide the required equipment, and the cameras will be fixed permanently in line with the creases at all venues (including the non-regular ones in Dublin, and Amsterdam).

It is slated to cost in the region of 400,000, and the organisers are looking at either recovering that amount out of the 1 million each nation will receive as its share of the profits, or by getting a sponsor to foot the bill.

This will do away with the heartburn that has been caused in recent times, as third umpires have handed down flawed decisions because the television broadcasters, who provide the action replays, have not for technical reasons been able to keep the cameras in line with the creases.

This brings with it the possibility of inadvertent error, since the angles of television replays may not at times be ideal for handing down judgements. Another problem area has been that fielders tend inadvertently to block the camera angles.

The provision of fixed cameras will remove that problem.

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