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Saturday, 2 April 2011






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Player referral not Video referral:

ICC draws a red herring

The 'Daily News' deserves to be commended for backing the claims of a Sri Lankan for recognition from the ICC in respect to his brainchild i.e. the player referral mechanism which underpins the Umpire Decision Referral System (UDRS).

I have been following the debate on the pros and cons of the merits of UDRS as enunciated by various parties within and outside Sri Lanka, associated with the game of cricket, including the latest correspondence between Senaka Weeraratna, Attorney-at Law, and David Becker, Head of Legal, International Cricket Council (ICC) (Daily News March 26, 2011).

I would like to make the following observations having read the published writings of Mr. Weeraratna over a period of time, on the subject of Allowing Appeals to the Third Umpire:

1) David Becker appears to be drawing a red herring in his letter dated May 9, 2010 by saying that the idea of using a video referral system for decisions in sport goes back well beyond 1997, as is evidenced from Simon Gardiner's article in Sport and the Law Journal "Video Adjudication in Sport" [1999] 7(1) SATLJ 26.

This statement of Becker has caused a lot of confusion in the minds of readers of the 'Daily News' by giving the impression that Weeraratna was claiming credit for an innovation i.e. video referral, that was pre-existing prior to his publications on this subject in the form of letters and articles to newspapers beginning in March 1997.

Nowhere in Weeraratna's correspondence was there ever a mention of claiming credit for video referral. His unique contribution to the resolution of on field umpire errors is the innovation of the concept of player referral. It is important to distinguish player referral from video referral. The latter i.e. slow motion video replay technology, was available to the third umpire who upon a request of an on - field umpire provides a clarification of an incident in the game usually in respect to appeals for run outs and stumping by the wicket keeper.

Player referral mechanism is an entirely different proposition. Under this concept a player of either side is empowered to appeal directly to the third umpire against the decision of an on field umpire. It removes the finality of a decision made by an on field umpire in upholding or dismissing an appeal. This is a revolutionary change. It goes against a cardinal tenet of cricket tradition namely that the umpire's word is final. Nevertheless it has brought integrity and justice to the game in place of an over exaggerated , flawed and abused method of adjudication.

2) Weeraratna's conception of player referral originally publicized through leading newspapers in the world and international cricket Journals since March 1997, has been adopted by the ICC in October 2009 without any acknowledgment to Weeraratna or his copyright. It has led to a 7% increase in the accuracy of umpire

decision making i. e. from 91% to 98% according to ICC sources. It has served the best interests of cricket given the plaudits coming from all sectors for the UDRS

3) Becker does not mention the point of time that the ICC Cricket Committee first developed the idea of the review system for ICC. In an article published on a BBC Website entitled 'U.D.R.S: A History' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/606/A62002153) the date that the ICC formulated what they call as their concept is generally taken as 2006, nine years after Weeraratna had first published his letters on this subject. The BBC Webpage U D R S: A History' sets out the chronology of evolution of the UDRS concept. It supports impliedly Weeraratna's position that he was ahead in time before the ICC 'formulated' the UDRS.

4) When we consider this time factor and the Umpire Decision Review System as being currently adopted and used by ICC, it becomes clear that the same had been developed by substantially taking from Weeraratna's concept i.e. his expression of the idea that the decisions made by an on field umpire shall be subjected to a process of reviewing upon a player referral.

5) Further Weeraratna's idea of restricting the number of appeals per inning against the decisions of an on field umpire has also been adopted by the ICC except that the number of such appeals has been reduced by the ICC from five to two appeals per inning.

The silence of the international media on the question of authorship of the UDRS is deafening. Two Englishmen Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis have been given credit as authors of the Duckworth -Lewis rule applicable to rain affected one-day matches. It is difficult to understand the rationale for the ICC unwillingness to give credit to Senaka Weeraratna. ICC must recognize talent wherever it is found. Sri Lanka has shown that it is a world class cricket playing nation in the

on-going world cup one day cricket tournament. ICC reluctance to recognize a Sri Lankan's intellectual contribution to cricket is just not cricket.


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