TV umpires to call front-foot no-balls going forward?
The on-field umpires may no longer be the adjudicators of front-foot no-balls. (AFP Image)

The responsibility of calling a front-foot no ball may fall entirely on TV umpires going forward if the ICC is successful in its latest planned trials. It is understood that over the period of the next six months, certain series will be targetted by the ICC in which a practice will be implemented, where the on-field umpires will no longer call front-foot no-balls.

“Broadly, yes [the same technology as 2016 will be used],” Geoff Allardice, the ICC’s general manager cricket operations told ESPNcricinfo. “The idea is the third umpire will be presented an image of the front-foot landing within a few seconds. He would communicate to the on-field umpire that a no ball has been delivered, so every delivery on the field would be played as a fair delivery until called otherwise.”

This approach was once given a shot during the ODI series between Pakistan and England, where a Hawkeye operator provided the third umpire with a still image. Back then, it took approximately eight seconds between the time of the foot landing and the umpire making the call, and although the ICC was satisfied with the move three years ago, the decision will be implemented on a much larger scale this time around.

“The footage is shown on a slight delay, it goes to super slo-mo as the foot approaches the point of landing and then it freezes. The routine works well, with the third umpire judging the no-ball off a picture that is not always shown on the broadcast,” Allardice said.

“The Cricket Committee recommended that we do it in all ODIs and T20Is. In 2018 there were about 84,000 balls delivered around the world in those formats in men’s international cricket. So to monitor the no-ball on each of those deliveries at all of the different venues is a big exercise. We just need to understand all the challenges before implementing this across all matches.

“Can this technology be implemented consistently across the 80 venues that hosted ODIs and T20Is last year? There are different levels of television coverage across these matches, so it will be easier to implement at some matches than at others. We now have 104 members who play T20I cricket and many of their matches are not televised, so what do we there? Thinking through all of the implications of introducing this is the exercise for us over the next six months.”

Over the last three months, there have been numerous cases of umpires failing to spot bowlers overstepping. During the IPL, umpire S Ravi missed Lasith Malinga overstepping against Royal Challengers Bangalore in a tense, last-ball finish against the Mumbai Indians, after which RCB skipper Virat Kohli expressed his displeasure.

More recently, in the World Cup, the umpires missed a no-ball bowled by Mitchell Starc in the game vs West Indies. Chris Gayle was dismissed off the following delivery which ideally should have been a free hit.