In an era of technology and television replays, it’s about time that decision making was concentrated entirely with umpires. Undoubtedly walking is done with the best of intentions but ultimately, it helps nobody.
When Rangana Herath seemingly edged the ball behind, the umpire was motionless; before signalling to an exacerbated bowler that the left arm spinner had walked off.
With only a handful of balls to save the Test, a wicket was potentially a match winning event; and in a series of just two games, potentially a series’ winning event.
Replays showed comprehensively though, that like with Edgebaston 2005, the ball hit his glove when his hand was off the bat. He was not out, but voluntarily walked off anyway.
This is the equivalent of someone being falsely accused in a court of law, and admitting to doing wrong because they aren’t aware of their own innocence. Thankfully, judges and juries make decisions of innocent and guilty in court.
In hindsight, Herath looked very silly. If that had led to a Sri Lankan loss, it would have made him public enemy number one.
But what does this have to do with the laws and spirit of the game?
The perception of the image of cricket; particularly Test cricket, is very important to the ECB and the MCC.
Lord’s has the spirit of cricket plastered on numerous boards, on the ground; and it is of course the body that makes the rules and holds the traditions of the game. It wants to preserve those traditions that they purport to have established, such as sportsmanship and playing fair.
The integrity of the game is thus crucial, so it is baffling that the laws and traditions are often at times at loggerheads. One such example is walking, whereby the umpire is essentially superseded by a player deciding on their own that they are out, even; like with Herath’s case, when they aren’t.
If an outsider to the sport saw this, they would think ‘why not just let the umpire do their job.’
There are systems in place too. The umpire should be allowed to function without the need for intervention by players. Each team has a number of reviews to challenge what they deem to be bad decisions.
This does not undermine the umpire though, because each team has a limited number of reviews [rightly so], and all reviews are relative to the original decision; with only the most compelling circumstances demanding an overturning of the decision.
The DRS system is in there to change bad umpiring decisions using available technology; but it maintains a healthy role and respect for the umpire.
When a player in a football game does something unintentional, and the referee awards a decision falsely; the player cannot pick up the ball and overturn the referee’s decision for the sake of playing ‘fair’ way. In no other sport in fact can the players decide their own fate in terms of success on the arena of play; so given this fact, it seems odd that in cricket player’s are allowed to walk off and decide they are out, and be berated as immoral if they don’t.
If an umpire say’s not out, it should be not out. The fielding side can challenge it.
If the batsman knows that he has hit it, and the fielding side agree, they will appeal. That is how cricket works. If they don’t get the decision, they can review it.
If the umpire gets it wrong and gives it out wrongly; the batsman can challenge it.
That’s how it ‘should’ be, as that maintains respect for the authority of the umpire, and ultimately that is the cornerstone of playing fair and having an even respectful game.