Home > Cricket > Australia's tour of India > Column > Ashish Magotra
Allow teams the right to appeal
October 10, 2004
When Glenn McGrath appeals for a leg-before decision and is turned down by the umpire, he often stops in the middle of the pitch, exchanges glances with the umpire and then looks at the spot where the ball had hit the pad.
Basically, he is trying to tell the umpire 'I thought that was out; I disagree with your judgment'.
One wonders whether that could amount to dissent. Because, in very simple terms, the bowler is telling the umpire he is not convinced with his ruling.
Now, if a bowler is allowed to do that, why isn't a batsman?
Why isn't a batsman allowed to appeal against an umpire's decision just as a bowler is?
There were many in the press box on the final day of the first Test against Australia in Bangalore on Sunday who felt that Virender Sehwag got off lightly. I was not one of them. I believe he should not have been fined at all.
The Indian opener was fined 65 per cent of his match fee for showing dissent to the umpire's decision. The decision in question was so blatantly unfair that only a robot would have been able to keep his emotions in check.
I agree the players are professional, but is the ICC looking to ban all emotion on the field of play. Do we, as individuals and cricket lovers, want to watch a game devoid of everything human?
Television viewers around the world saw the huge inside edge on their screens even as umpire Billy Bowden raised his finger. Sehwag would have undoubtedly felt the nick as well. In this situation, was he supposed to maintain a straight face for the benefit of the millions watching or was he supposed to show that he was disappointed at being dismissed?
I had spoken to International Cricket Council spokesperson Jon Long during the recently-concluded ICC Champions Trophy in England and he did mention that in future the ICC may consider allowing teams the power to appeal against an umpire's decision as a type of "officially sanctioned dissent".
"Bad decisions are part and parcel of the game. They are good umpires, and you can't do much about it. Not me, at least," said India's ace spinner Harbhajan Singh, after the close of play on Day 4.
The question, however, is not what the players can do, but what the ICC can.
By giving teams the right to appeal against certain decisions, like caught behind down the leg-side or leg-before decisions, say three times in a match, the ICC could cut down on blatant errors.
It would work this way: the appeal could only come from the players on the field and not those watching on television in the dressing room. The appeal would be made to the third umpire, who would then have the power to overrule the umpire's decision.
In case the third umpire rules against the batsman, he has to make his way to the dressing room and the team is left with only two appeals. In the other scenario, if the third umpire rules him not out, he continues his innings, but the team is still left with only two appeals.
The same options could be given to the fielding side as well.
The system is already used in America's National Football League, where teams are restricted to two appeals per half.
One wonder's whether umpire Bowden's latest gaffe will inspire the ICC to take a quick decision on the matter?