Are Umpires Biased? A Look at Current-Day Cricket

Every sport runs the risk of falling victim to subjective opinions on the part of officials. Tennis referees can make line judgments based on personal favorites, football officials can call fouls if they simply don't like the attitude of a particular player…in fact, some whole sports are subjective. Just look at sports like gymnastics and figure skating, with their points, based systems of “artistry.”

The same type of thing happens in cricket. It is up to any given match's umpires to decide when the rules are broken, and their decisions can definitely be tainted for many different reasons. If you look at a cricket World Cup points table, you assume that the numbers on it are legit and correct. But this isn’t always true.

Are Umpires Biased? A Look at Current-Day Cricket

What are the rules for umpires?

In any given match, there are two umpires appointed (for certain tournaments, such as the World Cup, the number has recently been raised to three). The role of the umpire is to guard one end of the field and call out unfair play. Umpires must be present on the field at least 45 minutes prior to the start of any given game. Except under extraordinary circumstances, umpires are not to be changed throughout the course of a match.

From the beginning, the umpires are to fulfill several duties: they must verify the balls to be used during the match. They must also establish the time of the match and its intervals.

Signals used

Umpires use different symbols when monitoring matches: “dead ball,” “no ball,” “out,” and wide”. They can also make calls about where players stand in relation to the wickets, and also make calls on player behavior.

Corruption exists

Unfortunately, despite the straightforward-sounding rules of the game, there is a fair potential for corruption, and this applies to umpires as much as anyone else. Remember, of course, that the stakes in cricket are high: prize winnings go up to millions of dollars, so the temptation to bribe those who are in decision-making positions (and for those who are in those positions to accept) is huge.

So what has happened in the sport? Well, quite a few things. Back in 2012, for example, six Indian and Sri Lankan umpires were found guilty of having agreed in advance to favor their own players. The accused umpires had online conversations revealed in which they agreed to call specific movements (“leg before wicket,” “runout,” and “inside edge”) during certain predetermined games.

These particular umpires were suspended, but it was neither the first time nor the last that such behavior appeared in the sport. In 2022, Jatin Kashyap was charged with attempting to corrupt individual players within the Indian league in an effort to garner money for all of them. Cricket has a very distinct code of conduct that, when breached, can result in serious consequences for offenders. He was also suspended, but these punishments are clearly not succeeding in eliminating corruption from the sport.

There’s money to be earned, in many ways

There is a lot of money to be earned in cricket. Much of it can come about from positive, legitimate means. Of course, players who play fair are in a position to gain serious amounts if they win. And people are increasingly betting on cricket teams thanks to the massive spread of online betting apps. You can download the IPL betting app 2024, for example, with ease, and potentially stand to make a lot of money if you bet right.

But unfortunately, there is also an uglier side to the sport. And cricket is certainly not alone in this respect; all professional sports suffer from some degree of this. The answer to what to do is not entirely clear, of course - if it were, the problem would have been solved a long time ago - but something certainly needs to be done to address it. There are plenty of players and umpires out there - the vast majority, for sure - that simply want to play their sport and do it in a fair way.

Regulations may change, but governing bodies should remain strict

Again, there’s no clear answer about what needs to be done regarding corruption in cricket. At the very least, international bodies should get together and come up with a coordinated way of addressing corruption issues so that they are all on the same page.

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