I have to hand it over to our friend Jonathan for this excellent post on the much debated issues related to umpires in cricket. Jonathan’s take on the increasing emphasis of specific umpires on some incidents taking the brunt of all the scrutiny by the fans and the media is well put out and the case of the extent of the workload, umpires like Asad Rauf and Simon Taufel have to endure, is an eye opener, as hardly any have looked into their direction and understand what goes behind their work. There are more dimensions to the topic in his article, which is a very nice read.
To continue my perspective on that topic, it is unfortunately not the fault of the fan for this plight but rather the umpires and their governing system themselves that choose to hide that face.
How much information is actually being given out to the fans, the biggest stakeholder of the game on what goes behind this system. Unfortunately very little.
We do know that supposedly every April, a review happens. After a gap of many years, two new umpires were inducted into the elite panel. But what actually goes on still remains one of the many eternal boardroom mysteries that none wants to disclose much about. There is indeed a distinct real possibility that there has not been much inroads in the quality of umpires being churned out by the respective member boards but considering at the same time, there is not much information being shared on the systems in place and their actual workings and findings, you just have to take everything as a pinch of salt.
Either this is a rather old fashioned veil of secrecy, which reminds me of the days 10 years back in my career, watching annoying mac operators on the job in the advertising industry, desperately using only keyboard commands with their hands blocking the view of what keys are actually being pressed, in their ridiculous quest for safeguarding their trade and keep their value in the market going or indeed there is a genuine apathy by the administrators on matters relating to umpiring.
Interestingly, the only time the progress and effort put into the system comes when an umpiring controversy breaks out, with some remarkable “process oriented” and “statistical” tit-bits thrown out to the world leaving everyone wondering whether this is real or a mere protectionist gimmick.
When complaints were flooded on the complete lack in quality of the umpires officiating in some of the matches played between associate members, out came rather prompt tit-bits on the system being worked on with complete video coverage, where decisions of these umpires are later reviewed by expert panels and subsequent improvement advisories and training imparted.
The exact details surrounding this system and the people in charge remain a mysterious clouded veil.