When controversies first exploded in the case of Steve Bucknor, out came his boss, Dave Richardson stating that his umpiring accuracy was 96% back then for the season, which was above the average of 94.8% for the Elite Panel as a whole. What was interesting here is despite all the probing, no details were released on the methodology behind defining this accuracy and system in place to review it.
Contrast that to the well documented and easily available guidelines and systems for team rankings, player performances, player rankings, code of ethics and disciplinary codes. Why, even if someone needs to be inspired to become depressed and suicidal, there is always the well-documented and insane Duckworth-Lewis to be read, for one to reach instant-coffee nirvana with his maker. All of these information about the system surrounding these areas contribute actively in giving a real face to the players and that’s often why no matter how dreadful an action done by a player, even turning up for example, drunk for a match and without your pants, despite the criticism for the action, the player is still loved because they see the system, the effort and the follies of the same, giving it a much more humane touch.
On the other hand, there are no doubts that umpires these days work very hard and constantly strive to be perfect. Anyone digging into the video archives of old matches played decades ago will be shocked to see the quality of umpiring back then. Umpires these days deliver far more brilliant decisions consistently than during those times, but this veil of secrecy/apathy behind their work sometimes make them a lot less enduring to be more accepted for the odd glaring mistakes.
It is a fair argument that in those days, irrespective of how terrible a decision was, players did not make a hue and cry about it like how they do now. But to the defense of the modern day players, it is also to be understood that in those days, players were not remotely scrutinized to the extent subjected by the current media set-up, TV broadcasting, improved camera technologies, ever hyped importance of statisticians and the ICC by itself. You find more documents and rules on anti-corruption for players and interestingly the rest of the stakeholders on a field supposedly has a system but is not disclosed or thought about.
Right now the whole umpiring system is shown like a hard, shiny, beautifully coloured hard shell of a special easter egg. With no details being shared on the systems, processes which they are going through to improve the standards, any sign of inconsistency will get all to take a crack at the egg to see what’s really inside… hollowness or not. Of course, during these times, the general manager shakes the egg to bring out the sound of the toffees inside, in terms of the occasional tit-bits being thrown in but what is equally heard is the hollowness inside which seeds all the doubts of this being a total farce.
The farce of the face can only be dramatically reduced if the transparency of the process is out, so that the human factors and struggles and efforts of these people are seen widespread.
Unfortunately this squarely lies within the realms of the umpires themselves and their bosses. They do need to open up and be a good old egg with all the york flowing. Otherwise, fans outside won’t be in any position to understand whether or not they really work hard to improve the standards set by their predecessors.
Chances are they indeed are but how would anyone actually know?
Hope Dave Richardson is listening.