Technology still error-prone: Simon Taufel
Simon Taufel retired from umpiring after the 2012 World T20. (AFP Image)

Former cricket umpire Simon Taufel believes the use of technology is not foolproff and that it too is prone to errors. The biggest example of technology cricket has embraced is the use of the DRS, the Decision review System than challenges the umpires’ on-field call, and Taufel, who won five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards between 2004 and 2008 feels no matter how much of a presence technology has in decision-making, it can still err.

“Technology should be there to support improved decision making, not replace the decision-making responsibility and role of the umpire. There should be a balance of technology in the game, where we do not see an overreliance on technology and remove the human element because just like people, technology is also fallible at times,” Taufel told Times of India.

“It may have been more helpful for the game itself to drive what technology is used, rather than the broadcasters doing it. The technology that we see on television is paid for by the host broadcasters, who also have total control over it. Ideally, the ICC could have invested in developing technology to meet the game’s specific needs. We must also accept the fact that we not going to achieve 100 per cent accuracy.”

With DRS now implacable almost every series, Taufel believes it should be used judiciously by the players. Somehow, most referrals are for LBW decisions, but Taufel feels that isn’t the most difficult decision to call.

“The two most challenging appeals to judge accurately are the caught-behind down the leg-side and the bat-pad offerings. Leg-before decisions are easier to judge because the umpire is the best-placed person in the whole stadium to assess whether the batsman is out or not. Sometimes technology fails to provide conclusive evidence when the batsman is a long way down the pitch,” Taufel said.

The Taufel, who retired from umpiring after the 2012 World T20, further weighed in on the topics, adding that DRS unintentionally tends to question the authenticity of the on-field umpires, although most times, they are spot on with their decision-making.

“It is a disturbing trend. Part of the umpire’s role is to use technology responsibly and only use it when they need to. Overuse or underuse is not right. We should be encouraging and supporting umpires to make decisions where they can back themselves,” he said.

One of the biggest controversies surrounding the DRS is the soft signal, which indicates the initial call made by the umpires, on the basis of which the eventual call will be made and even though it has been criticised time and again, Taufel reckoned it is needed.

“The soft signal is necessary because in some cases the evidence produced by the camera angles is not conclusive or available. Unless the third umpire has conclusive evidence at his disposal, it is not right to overturn the decision of the on-field umpire. The primary responsibility for making an initial decision on a fair catch remains with the bowler’s end umpire – just like an LBW decision,” said the former umpire.

“I’d like to see a continued and improved effort by the governing bodies to invest in the resourced training and coaching of match officials. The playing side of the game receives so much support and investment. It would be worthwhile to see the ‘third team’ in the match have a similar focus.”