I BELIEVE it is time the ICC followed the AFL's example and introduced three umpires on the ground. The game today has become so quick the two umpires standing cannot keep up. My biggest pet hate in the game is when a batsman is dismissed, the umpires always go upstairs to check for a no ball. It seems to take an eternity and the moment is lost when players have their celebrations interrupted, waiting on the third umpire call. It is becoming farcical and something needs to be done about it.
Watching Mitchell Johnson ripping out the middle stump of Stuart Broad was brilliant for all Australian players and fans. But then we have to wait to see if his delivery was legal. Everyone holds their collective breath waiting on a positive decision from above before continuing their celebrations. It ruins the spontaneity and the atmosphere of the match. It can't be good for Broad either, reliving his dismissal, watching his middle stump spinning out of the ground.
Today, umpires will not take the risk without going upstairs to confirm if everything is OK. Already in this series, bowlers have transgressed the line while taking a wicket. It made me think how many other times the umpires have missed no balls. So bring on the third umpire, where his main job is to watch for no balls and run outs.
Here is the difficulty umpires face. First, they must watch for the bowler's back foot and front foot to see if they land in the right areas. Then they must look up to see where the delivery is pitched and so forth. Now when Johnson bowls at more than 150km/h, they have only a third of a second to judge a million things. Lets make it easy for the standing umpire and get another umpire out there to watch for no balls and, in particular, help the umpire standing to make better decisions. Simple isn't it?
The third umpire can stand wide enough on the off side to a right-hand bowler bowling over the wicket to judge if he has overstepped. Or conversely, stand on the leg side for a left-arm bowler. Having another set of eyes on the ground would help make better and consistent decisions, which would help speed up the game.
While on pet hates, I hate it when umpires confer over whether a catch has carried. Why do umpires confer at mid-wicket before throwing it to the third umpire? Not once, have I seen them confer and give someone out. It seems to take minutes before both umpires say, ''Let's just have a look upstairs''. Why not just do it straight away? Speed up the game boys. It's not hard.
While I am on a roll, why do we have so many players in whites and wearing bibs acting as 12th men? If I was coach, I would want my reserve players to be in the nets or doing work elsewhere to be ready for their next match. Sitting on their backsides and racing drinks out is degrading and demeaning. The reserve player's job is to be fit and in form waiting on selection. Just get a few water boys to send out the drinks.
And that brings me to another pet hate. There are so many stoppages in play today that I don't know where to start. Why do cricketers have so many drinks? Players get three drinks breaks a day plus intervals. There are, on average, eight to 10 wickets a day and that is another opportunity, when it comes, for players to have a drink. I believe no player should be allowed to have a drink until there is an official stoppage in play, like a wicket falling.
As a batsman, I hate it when I am working on a bowler and he goes for a drink at fine leg. I can't have one unless I ask the fielding captain. This game is about fitness and attrition. Why should the bowler get favours and I can't?
And how many times does a batsman need to change his gloves? Really boys, I think you're getting a bit pedantic over the glove changing. You can change your gloves when a wicket falls or when an official drink break comes along. Let's keep the stoppages to a minimum and less traffic on the field of play.
And lastly, have you noticed these days that most Test series are heavily one-sided? Rarely do we see a team losing the first Test but come back and win a series. Most five-Test series are finished in seven weeks (four weeks for a three-Test series). What this typical, modern itinerary creates is when a team builds up momentum like Australia has in the first two Tests, it gives the opposition no time to reorganise themselves. Nor does it give injured stars time to come back.
What I loved in my day was touring teams would have games against other states in between Test matches. I loved it when Victoria played England at the MCG, Ballarat or Bendigo. Sure Shane Warne might not have played, but it gave a chance to some other youngster in a state squad to show off their skills.
I know from experience that when you are out of form in the Tests, making runs in a club or first-class match does wonders for your confidence. Sometimes that is all you need.