SYDNEY: Australia chief selector, Rod Marsh, has termed the emergence of Twenty20 cricket as a serious threat to umpires’ lives and asked for the current rule to be changed in order to protect the on-field officials.
“Big hitting in T20 has made it more dangerous for umpires. It’s only a matter of time before an umpire in an international or first-class match is seriously hurt, if not killed,” Marsh, 67, was quoted as saying by British media.
Marsh, who played for Australia as a wicketkeeper from 1970-84, believed that changes made to the game have compelled cricketers to hit the ball harder.
“You put yourself in the umpire’s position when a batsman with a massive weapon runs at the bowler and smashes a straight drive at about chest height,” he said.
“I for one would want to be standing back as far as possible and by reverting to the back-foot law, the umpire has a chance to stand at least two metres further back.
“If I happened to be umpiring right now I’d be wearing a baseball helmet, a chest pad, shin guards and an abdominal protector.
“May be we have to make this safety gear for umpires compulsory for all international and first-class games,” Marsh added.
It was in 1962 that the no-ball law was changed from back foot to front foot.
Australian great Ian Chappell, who represented the country from 1964-80, in his column for sports website argued that going back to the back-foot law would not only reduce the number of illegal deliveries, but also improve over rates, and give umpires more time to spend on important decisions.