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That, I think is where a fine or some other penalty comes into play. Fail to consult, lose the referral, cop the consequences. Double or triple the consequences for repeat offenders, quadruple it if their surname starts with a W.

When we’re batting there’s only one person the prospective referrer can consult, and that’s the bloke at the other end. It should be a case of batsmen who’ve been given out approach the partner, state their case and if the other bloke agrees you refer it.

So the bloke who may have feathered a snick through to the keeper goes down, reckons he didn’t hit it, the partner says I dunno, I heard something and it’s all over red rover.

If the subsequent forensic evidence suggests it shouldn’t have been referred, a penalty applies to both of them. You don’t necessarily make the penalty a financial one, you make it known that it happens, and you work it from there to ensure that there’s no suggestion that you’re referral happy and will do it at the drop of a hat.

The same basic point applies when we’re bowling, but the consultation should be between captain, keeper and bowler, with the T shape only being made when the consensus is that there’s something there.

If we have penalties for failure to follow the agreed protocol when we’re batting, there should be a reward for the bowler who gets asked about an LBW and responds that it might have been going down the leg side. Particularly when the umpire’s within earshot.

Similarly, if there’s a shout, a Not out, and no referral, a verbal check with the umpire might be interpreted as pocket-pissing, but see the above reference to flies, sugar and vinegar. 

The key thing here is that you want, if at all possible, to have at least one referral, and preferably both of the little devils in hand around the eight-for and nine-for mark, at which point you can be a little more relaxed about these things, but I’d still like to see the innings end with at least one referral still in the bag, because that means whatever we’ve referred has been spot on, and we’ve probably ended up with fewer dodgy decisions anyway.

And, particularly when we’re batting, if we’re out of referrals before the eight-for mark it’d be obvious any penalties involved aren’t high enough. 

Those penalties, of course, don’t have to be financial. It might be a case of assigning the individuals in question some chore that will induce a degree of banter and hilarity in the team situation. 

Offenders become the designated luggage porters for the duration of the match as well as the next one, or until the next offender rolls into view.

That last bit is possibly going to be enough to ensure there isn’t another offender (or pair of ‘em) in a hurry.

Which raises an interesting thought. We have a team member designated to lead the victory song. Do we have a sergeant-at-arms, dispensing penalties for assorted offences? And, if not, why not?

 © Ian Hughes 2014