London, Jan 06 (Agencies): Retired English International Cricket umpire Dickie Bird fears that, international umpires will soon be reduced to “counting to six and that’s all”.

The English umpiring great believes the increased use of technology, as witnessed during the ongoing fifth and final Ashes Test between England and Australia in Sydney, will turn cricket’s top officials into mere bystanders.

“Electronic aids have taken all the authority away from the umpire,” Bird told Sky Sports on Wednesday.

“The umpire that used to make all the decisions, like in my day, that umpire has finished I’m afraid. It is now run by electronic aids.”
Bird was speaking after the close of the third day’s play in Sydney where technology played a key role in several decisions in a way unthinkable during the 77-year-old Yorkshireman’s 23-year career as a Test umpire.

England, 2-1 up in the series and having already retained the Ashes, closed on 488 for seven – an impressive 208 runs ahead with two days left.

 Their total featured a maiden Ashes century from Ian Bell.

But Bell benefited from a reviewed decision after he was given out caught behind on 67 off Shane Watson by umpire Aleem Dar.

Replays could not show any mark on the “hot spot” technology and Dar reversed his decision.

But Australian television station Channel Nine’s “snicko” device, not available to the match officials, suggested a thin edge.

“The third umpire in the box gave it ‘not out’ but the correct decision was out and the umpire on the field had it right so electronic aids have taken all the authority away from the umpire,” Bird said.

Bird, who stood in what was then a world record 66 Tests from 1973 to 1996, added: “I feel if you ask any umpire in the world today, he will tell you that he would prefer to go back to the old system where the umpires made their own decisions because we are getting more controversies.”

Bird was still officiating when umpires could first ask for television replay assistance on a tight run-out and that is all the help he believes they need now.

“I think there should only be one electronic aid used and that is for the close run-out because the close run-out is the most difficult decision. I would leave everything else to the umpire.”

Bird also pointed to the inconsistency of using the Decision Review System (DRS) in the Ashes but not in the ongoing South Africa-India series because of Indian objections.

He urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to take charge of the situation and warned repeated referrals would eventually annoy spectators.

“It doesn’t happen in all Test matches. People don’t know where they are with these referrals. It’s belittling the umpire and holding the game up.

“People pay a lot of money to watch Test match cricket and they don’t want to see the game being held up.”