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Electronic aids such as Hawk-Eye have no place in the game of cricket – apart from to clarify the run-out.

That’s the view of veteran umpire and Yorkshire legend Dickie Bird, speaking at yesterday’s Yorkshire Post Literary Lunch in Harrogate.

“I’m a big believer in the umpire making all the decisions, right or wrong,” he said. “It’s part of the game. If an umpire makes a mistake it’s talked about on the television, in the press, down the pub.

“By bringing in machines you’ve taken the soul out of it. A machine can’t tell you the condition of the pitch or all the variables that affect a ball.”

He added: “The most difficult decision is the run-out – it’s like the goal-line in football. That’s the one place where I think the electronic aids have a part to play.”

Still recovering from the bronchitis that prevented him from attending last month’s historic 500th lunch, Dickie signed copies of The Little Book of Dickie Bird, a pocket-sized book of personal reflections.

Also speaking was “the man in the white suit” – Martin Bell, former BBC journalist, ex-MP and UNICEF ambassador, whose new book, For Whom the Bell Tolls, is a collection of light verse covering everything from the London riots to Angelina Jolie.

“I’ve discovered one of the beauties of poetry is that you can say things in just six lines that it might take you 2,000 words to express in prose,” he said. “One of my worries is about the future of books and bookshops – so I wrote a poetic rant about the rise of the Kindle.”

Robert Hardman, who has covered the lives of the British monarchy for more than 20 years, enjoyed privileged access to the royal family as he researched his book, Our Queen – Inside the World of Elizabeth II.

“Only one other monarch – Queen Victoria – has celebrated a diamond jubilee and that was a very different world,” he told the assembled guests.

“I wanted to make this a picture of a modern monarch rather than a biography.”