The Melbourne Test between Australia and India reignited the debate on looking at umpire's call when it comes to LBW decisions as a few Aussie batsmen benefitted from this loophole in the referral system. The Aussie batsmen were declared not out on India's review of LBW appeals as the ball would have hit partially or less than 50 percent of the off-stump or leg-stump. But India retained the referral on umpire's call.
However, India missed out on dismissing the Aussie batsmen earlier than they managed to do so eventually. This loophole in the umpire'bas call prompted greats such as Sachin Tendulkar to call for a review of this umpire's call in the referral system.
So, should the umpire's call be scrapped altogether, and batsmen been given out as long as the ball hits the stumps?
Give umpire's call a legitimate LBW verdict
Yes, as LBW decisions mean an obstruction due to the player's body, which if it was not there would have caused the batsman to be bowled.
A case in point is the Steve Smith's dismissal by Jasprit Bumrah in the second innings of Melbourne Test. As Smith shuffled to flick a ball down the leg side, the cherry brushed his pads, and hit the top of the stumps to dislodge one of the bails. Bumrah jumped in appeal for a LBW dismissal, only for Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane to point out the dislodged bail.
If the ball had been obstructed by Smith's body, and the on-field umpire had turned down the LBW appeal from Bumraj, and a referral was sought by Team India, Smith would have continued to bat on as umpire's call would have come into the picture. But the true picture was that Smith was bowled, with the ball just dislodging the one of the bails.
However, as cricket expert Sunil Gavaskar pointed out that if every ball hitting the stumps is given out LBW, then there will be shorter innings, and quicker wickets, and matches probably ending in 2 days. Besides, technology would take too much precedence over the game of cricket as it would fail to account the bounce of the pitch, the trajectory of the ball, and just rely on a few software to determine whether the ball is hitting the stumps or not.
Therefore, considering this aspect, a thorough review should be made on umpire's call to ensure all legitimate LBW dismissals stand, and at the same time, it does not reduce the game to a farce by allowing all balls hitting the stumps as LBW verdict. A perfect balance should be found to ensure neither of the party – batting or bowling side – feel at the receiving end of the umpire's call.
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