It has not been even 10 days since the twelfth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) began and already the rants about 'wrong decisions' or 'no calls' made by the on-field umpires are making the headlines almost every single day.
Take Thursday's match between Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rohit Sharma's as an example, during which two such instances took place. In the 18th over of the match, one of Jasprit Bumrah's deliveries was considered to be wide even when it was well within the lines.March 29, 2019
After the match, Sharma made sure to talk about it.March 28, 2019
And then there was the 'no-call' on the final delivery of the game that caused RCB to lose it. Trailing by seven runs with just one ball to go, pacer Lasith Malinga bowled a 'no ball' by placing his foot over the crease but official S. Ravi failed to call it.
On the other hand, these days almost every single appeal made by the players goes to the third umpire. From run outs to stumpings with even boundaries being reviewed at times, the right decision has to come from upstairs.
The need for the players to have a right to challenge the umpires' decision was felt by the International Cricket Council and thus, the provision of Decision Review System (DRS) too came into existence in Test in 2008, ODI in 2009 and T20I in 2017.
On the other hand, the reasons for keeping an on-field umpire have become weaker with more and more technological advancements being made and added to the game of cricket. The need to have a natural presence on the field to prevent fights and solve issues quickly are no more valid.
Sure we have heard of technology like the hawkeye and snick-o-meter providing us with incorrect results, but when compared to the incorrect decisions made by the on-field umpires, the ratio is in favour of technology in massive ways.
During a three-match series between Australia and the Windies in 2015 for example, it happened thrice that the on-field umpire's wrongful decision to give an out to the batsman was reversed after proper inspection by the third umpire following a DRS request. Former Australian cricketer Brett Lee had asked an extremely valid question back then that if the umpires had missed those three no-balls, what is the guarantee that they didn't miss many more that didn't result in wickets? In a tight game, such calls can be crucial.
If there is a need to evolve the game to the next level, where the number of bad calls and errors are lesser than what it is right now, and the opportunity for every player to perform well must be equal, getting rid of the on-field umpires might as well be the final option.