Vital change that could win war against no-balls
CRICKET may finally have solved its no-ball problem after confirmation the women's Twenty20 World Cup in Australia will be the first tournament to feature front-foot technology.
The third umpire will monitor the landing foot of bowlers after each ball and communicate to their on-field counterparts whether it was a legal delivery.
On-field umpires have been instructed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), which is satisfied with the standard of technology after recent trials in India and the West Indies, not to call any front-foot no-balls unless advised by their colleague in the box.
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It had already been the norm for third umpires to check whether a bowler overstepped after a wicket, but not after every ball.
There has been a widespread push for the change in recent years. Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum called on cricket's governing body to hand all front-foot calls to the third umpire in 2016, when Doug Bracewell was incorrectly no-balled after bowling Australia's Adam Voges for seven.
Voges went on to make a match-winning 239 in that Basin Reserve Test. Bowlers have also been miffed by how often they have been denied a wicket because a video replay picked up it was an illegal delivery, only to find umpires have missed a stack of preceding no-balls leading up to the dismissal.
"No-balls are difficult for umpires to call accurately, and even though the percentage of deliveries that are no-balls is low, it is important to call them correctly," ICC general manager of cricket Geoff Allardice said.
"I'm confident that this technology will reduce the small number of front-foot no-ball errors at the ICC women's T20 World Cup."
The technology was recently trialled during 12 games, with 4717 deliveries bowled and all judged accurately.
"Since we first trialled this concept in the ODI series between England and Pakistan in 2016 the technology has improved significantly, enabling us to introduce it cost-effectively, and with minimum impact on the flow of the game," Allardice said.
The women's T20 World Cup starts on February 21 with a clash between Australia and India at Sydney Olympic Park.
The final is on March 8 at the MCG.