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Bring it, says ICC


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LONDON – The International Cricket Council (ICC) wants  the umpire decision review system introduced  to all Test matches  “as soon as possible”.Following a review into the system after a high-profile error in January’s fourth Test between England  and South Africa, the ICC said yesterday that it would  demand minimum standards  in its implementation  and end the present situation where national associations  could opt out.The ICC conducted its review after South Africa captain Graeme Smith was given not out when TV umpire Daryl Harper watched a replay of him edging the ball without the volume switched on.With no visible deviation in the ball’s flight, Harper did not hear the contact and Smith went on to hit a match-winning century that helped his team  tie the series.“It’s not good enough to say ‘the umpire needs access to audio from the stump mike’,” ICC general manager Dave Richardson said. “We have  to go to a lot more detail, like actual volume levels and it must be a clean feed.”The ICC will negotiate with local broadcasters over how  to fund the system, which  will be in full use for the 2011 World Cup.“There has to be ad hoc negotiation with individual broadcasters to say ‘what can you provide for us and on what terms’,” Richardson said.  “The priority is for this  to be in all series.”Richardson said the demand for minimum standards rather than forcing every available type of technology on every Test match meant that implementation should be practically possible.He conceded that only the most glaring of errors would be prevented, but said some protection was better than none.“We’d rather have the bulletproof vest to the armoured car,” Richardson said after the ICC Cricket Committee’s two-day meeting at Lord’s. “As long as we can keep improving implementation of the system, we’ll be making progress  and we’ll be happy.”The system will be the same as the one currently used, with a strict 15-second period in which a team must decide whether to ask for a referral. The third umpire will signal after ten seconds to the umpire in the middle, who will then tell the captain he has another five seconds to make his decision.Rickardson said the fact that the review system bucked umpires’ initial decision only  25 per cent of the time had improved perceptions of umpires rather than undermined them,“People are saying ’jeepers, these guys are really good,”’ Richardson said. “The perception among the public and commentators is that these guys aren’t as bad as they thought they were.”The ICC is also hoping to stage the first nighttime test match by October 2011, although Richardson said the amount of research still needed into the necessary ball colour meant that was an ambitious target unlikely to be met.Five-day Test cricket, considered the purest form  of the game, is always played  in daylight with a red ball. Richardson said there was plenty of anecdotal evidence  on what shade of pink, or even orange, was clearest against  a black backdrop.He said the Marylebone Cricket Club and other  domestic teams around the world would be involved in scientific trials, and the ICC would then approach ball manufacturers to ask  them to provide a ball  that could keep its colour,  shape and hardness  for long enough.Richardson and ICC Cricket Committee chairman Clive Lloyd also said that the body would take no action  to outlaw switch-hitting,  which enables batsman  to hit big shots with  an unorthodox technique.The ICC reiterated  its stance that batsman  could only reverse their grip on the bat, switching the bottom hand for the top, after the bowler had entered the delivery area. If they do so earlier, a bowler was entitled to withdraw from his run-up and the umpire would warn the batsman for wasting time.A second warning would incur a five-run penalty.“There is still a majority that feel it is a skill, Richardson said. “It is a risky shot, so it is permissible.” (AP)

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