08/12/2009

Mark Benson Muddles UDRS

Flying - Brett Lee, Adelaide _2681Image by Rikx via Flickr
Why did Mark Benson abruptly leave the Adelaide Test?

The International Cricket Council (ICC) says Mark Benson quit because of a combination of stress and recurring health problems.

However, speculation persists that he quit abruptly at the end of the 1 st Day of the Adelaide Test between Australia and the West Indies because he felt humiliated by the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS).

Whatever the reason, by his hasty departure, Mark Benson has drawn unwanted notoriety on the fledgling UDRS.

Leaving aside Benson’s irrational behavior it is time to look at the UDRS dispassionately and understand why it is the centre of attention.

The UDRS is an attempt to eliminate obvious umpiring decisions howlers. Instead, what has happened is that it appears to have exacerbated the acrimony surrounding it.

However, is the opprobrium justified?

Look at what Lawrence Booth has to say:

Problems have arisen not because – as romantics such as Dickie Bird believe – the on-field umpires have been stripped of their authority, but because both the players and the TV umpires have exceeded their brief. The ICC, in trying to deal with the kind of umpiring-induced bad blood that marred India’s tour of Australia in 2007-08, have made it clear all along that the UDRS is there to get rid of the howlers. And that is it.

Sadly, even if Benson announces that he quit due to ill health, the UDRS will still carry the stigma.

To erase this infamy, players should stop trying to game the UDRS and the umpires should learn to be suppress their ego.
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