Margin of Umpire’s Call likely to be reduced

Sri Lanka’s LBW review against Bairstow. Image courtesy: SkySports

Mahela Jayawardena, who was recently appointed to the ICC cricket committee, has confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that a recommendation has been made to decrease the margin of umpire’s call on the Decision Review System (DRS).

A reduction in margin would mean 25% of the ball hitting the stumps would be deemed adequate to overturn an umpire’s decision, in contrast to the current rule that requires 50% of the ball to hit the stumps.

Mahela, who was visibly unhappy during his commentary stint, about Jonny Bairstow barely surviving an LBW referral by Sri Lanka, which showed almost half of the ball hitting the stumps, stated that “We sat in the cricket committee last week and we decided that the 50% rule should be reduced to 25%, so that recommendation will probably go in and it’s something for the stakeholders and ICC to take up.”

The English wicket-keeper was on 56 when Shaminda Eranga shaped a ball back into the right-hander and hit his back foot adjacent to the leg stump. The on-field umpire ruled the batsman not out and a review by Sri Lanka showed nearly a half of the ball to be colliding with the stumps, but the technology’s fastidiousness meant that the decision was to be made on umpire’s call.

“Even the MCC rule book says if it hits any part of the wicket it should be given out, so you are going away from all that with the 50% rule,” said a gutted Mahela. “That argument has been there for the last three or four years when captains are losing reviews so that is another reason the reduction came into play,” he said. “If you take 25% out, I think the stats say that 75-80% of the umpire’s calls decisions would be given out. When umpires are considering benefit of the doubt I think 25% is okay, but 50% is too much”, he further added.

The cricket committee’s recommendations will be raised at ICC’s annual conference in Edinburg at the end of this month. If this recommendation is accepted by the ICC, then more batsmen could be seen given out LBW on referral.