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Gavaskar gives thumps up to neutral umpires policy

Sydney, Jan 4 (UNI) Legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar has backed the concept of neutral umpires, despite the call to replace the system after a spate of poor umpiring decisions in the second Test at SCG.

Gavaskar, Chairman of the powerful International Cricket Council Cricket Committee (ICCCC), said the reason the ICC and the cricket community accepted neutral-country umpires was to eliminate the element of bias that might be pointed at the umpires.

''That will be there for a while. I know there is some talk about having only the best umpires come in, but rather than have any controversy regarding decisions I think it is probably a lot better (to have the system),'' he said.

''If a third country umpire makes a (questionable) decision, it won't be as acrimonious as a home umpire making that decision.'' Gavaskar's comments came after calls for the scrapping of neutral umpire system and increased technology to help umpires in an aftermath of the questionable decisions on the day one and two of the second Test at the SCG.

The ICCCC, tasked with discussing and recommending changes or otherwise reviewing all elements of cricket playing conditions, contains experts such as Mark Taylor, Michael Holding, Tim May and Mahela Jayawardene to do the job.

Talking about the proposed use of further technology to help umpires, Gavaskar said it was always on the agenda but would be considered for adoption, only if found consistently reliable.

''Technology is discussed at every meeting because every year some new technologies comes through,'' he said.

''Snicko wasn't there a few years ago but came in, the Hawkeye wasn't there,'' he added.

''There have been different technologies coming through but the stance of the ICC and the cricket committee has been fairly consistent in as much that the decision, wherever the decision is foolproof, you can go ahead and use it,'' Gavaskar said.

''But where there is an element of doubt, where it's not 100 per cent, then the words the ICC use is to 'hasten slowly' You don't want to have a situation where the technology is not 100 per cent correct, you would rather have human error than technological error,'' the 58-year-old Mumbaikar was quoted as saying by the local media.

Gavaskar's comment came after Steve Waugh wrote in his newspaper column that there was no reason that the world's top official, Simon Taufel, should not stand in matches involving his own country, Australia.

Not hiding his displeasure over the way the incident of wrong umpiring decision was treated, Gavaskar said, ''At the end of the day you want players' performances to grab the headlines, not the umpires.'' ''In that respect (Wednesday) was perhaps a day which was forgettable from the umpires point of view.'' UNI XC TB GT RAI1301

Story first published: Saturday, January 5, 2008, 17:37 [IST]
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