The role of the cricket umpire is similar to that of a football referee. However, it must be noted that there is an appointed match referee in international cricket, who serves to settle disputes and conducts disciplinary hearings. The cricket umpire is a neutral element on the field of play who seeks to uphold the laws of cricket and the spirit of the game as well. The cricket umpire is also a decision maker whose adjudications can often change the direction of a match.
There must be at least two umpires in a cricket match. In professional matches, there's a third umpire, a reserve umpire and a match referee. The two standing umpires and the third umpire are actively involved in the game- making decisions that directly affect the outcome.
Safety is the first port of call for the two standing umpires. They decided when play will begin or resume after interruptions caused by rain or pitch repairs. The umpires decide whether the conditions are safe and fit for players before proceeding with play.
Once play begins, the two umpires work in tandem, switching positions for each over. There is an umpire standing behind the stumps at the non-strikers end and one at square leg. The umpire at square leg generally assists the other umpire with decisions like no-balls (for height), run outs and stumping appeals).
The umpire who is behind the stumps at the non-striker's end keeps track of the ball bowled in the over. He must also determine the legality of each delivery (sometimes with the help of the square leg umpire). That umpire is responsible for ensuring fair play and making decisions about appeals by the fielding side and assisting the scorer by signalling 'extras' and boundaries. He is also responsible for calling periods of play like the end of an over and the start or end of a session.
While the match referee usually deals with disciplinary matters, a report must first be made to him by the standing umpires. However, in some instances, the standing umpires have the authority to penalise the teams for breaches of the spirit and rule of law. For example, umpires may apply penalty runs for ball tampering or time-wasting. The umpires also have significant discretion concerning the duration of play where bad light becomes a factor.
Previously, the cricket umpire was the ultimate authority in a cricket match. However, technology highlighted the numerous gaffes made by umpires to the extent that certain changes were made. In 2007, the ICC used a referral system where players can challenge the umpires' decisions. Before that, umpires were allowed to use the third umpire to refer marginal lbw decisions. Despite these challenges to their authority, cricket umpires remain an authority on the cricket field that upholds the integrity of the game.
And now you can read brief profiles of some of the best spinners and fast bowlers that the game of cricket has ever seen:
The best spin bowlers in cricket history: http://www.helium.com/items/1516046-best-spin-bowlers-in-cricket
The top 5 fast bowlers in cricket history: http://www.helium.com/items/1518569-top-fast-bowlers-in-cricket-history
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