After England’s series in the West Indies was beset by umpire review flash points, the panel looks at how the system went awry and whether it’s worth continuing with. Lawrence Booth has already pointed out that teams aren’t using it in the right way but is there a problem with the concept as a whole?

John Stern

Editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Cricket commentators’ and pundits’ capacity for righteous indignation and reactionary zeal knows no bounds, it seems. The level of opprobrium heaped upon an experimental system designed to eliminate poor umpiring decisions has been utterly staggering. And, of course, it’s all the ICC’s fault.

What has emerged from the review experiment is how damn good most umpires are. Unlike the players, the two on-field umpires are expected to watch every single ball of every single session of a five-day Test, often in temperatures that would have even the mad dogs and madder Englishmen running for the sanitorium.

The question is whether all the extra minutes of faffing around trying to establish just how marginal that lbw decision was are worth it for the possibility that one real howler will be overturned. Other than the fact they enlivened a turgid series, the West Indies-England rubbers would have been better off without reviews. They served only to enrage players and undermine umpires.

But you know in a real pressure-cooker series, like India v Australia, where there’ll be zero walking and plenty of, er, ambitious appealing that reviews might help the umpires. The system certainly shouldn’t be ditched just yet but the technology available should extend always to Hotspot and Hawk-Eye.

Edward Craig

Deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

I remain a fan in principle. It hasn’t worked in this West Indies-England series but because of implementation not theory. Reviews are not there to decide 50-50 decisions – as soon as the off-field umpire finds himself splitting hairs, he should tell the on-field umpire the original decision stands.

To this end, there should be a three-minute time limit for the reviews; if the umpire can’t make a decision within this time, then there is no obvious mistake – stick with that first judgment. This would avoid the constant interruption of play, would stop silly referrals from players and would only clear up basic errors – which is the intention after all.

Daniel Brigham

Assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

All of those moaning about the review system (yes, we know it’s beyond you Botham) should accept that it does mean more decisions are being made correctly. Better decisions = good idea.

Its biggest problem is that the players nor the third umpire used it correctly in the Caribbean. That will change for the better with time; the only real mistake is that it’s being trialed in Test matches rather than domestic tournaments.


Shrimp barbecuer and blogger

What can you say about a system that is set up to stop obvious mistakes but spends most of its time picking up if the ball is pitched 51% outside legstump? Nothing more obvious than that.

It takes a cunning group of minds to bring in a technology-based umpiring system and take out vital elements of the technology. Then, as if it wasn’t screwed up enough, they say to people who are trained to make decisions, we don’t want you to make decisions, we want you to find irrefutable proof that the decision was wrong. Not that you can over-rule the decision anyway, you can merely suggest your thoughts, based on the 23 slow-mo replays you have seen, to the guy who saw it once, in real time.

All that said, any system that regularly makes Daryl Harper look like a poor umpire is fine by me, so I think we should keep it.

Alan Gardner

Freelance journalist

I’m not so keen on keeping the thing going, as it appears to be more trouble than it’s worth. Granted, it may come good if both teams and umpires learn better how to apply the system, but it certainly shouldn’t continue in its current, half-cocked form. Give the third umpire all the technology, or take it away.

Haroon Lorgat has said that reviews have led to a rise in correct decisions being made, up from 94 to 98%. But has that led to 4% less talking points? No, it’s generated an unquantifiable amount more bellyaching.

Now it’s your turn. Go…