The ICC (International Cricket Council) Cricket Committee has recommended to have domestic umpires in international matches in view of the Covid-19 epidemic which could pose a major challenge for Indian match officials. Many current and former match officials of the country believe that it will be challenging for India’s domestic umpires due to less experience in international matches, especially Test matches.
Last year, Indian umpire S Ravi was dropped from the ICC Elite Panel Umpires and after this there is no Indian umpire in the list. Its worth mentioning that umpires for Test matches are selected from this list only. Among the ICC international panel umpires falling below this category are four Indians, of which only Nitin Menon (three Tests, 24 ODIs and 16 T20 Internationals) has Test experience. Apart from these, C Shamshuddin (43 ODIs, 21 T20 Internationals), Anil Chaudhary (20 ODIs, 20 T20 Internationals) and Virendra Sharma (two ODIs and one T20) are not experienced in Test matches.
Despite not having experience, these umpires can ply their trade in the home Test series against England in January.
The ICC will appoint local elites and international panel referees and umpires. In the country where there is no match official in the elite panel, match officials from the international panel will be appointed. In India, only Javagal Srinath is the match referee of the elite panel, while Anil Chaudhary, Shamsuddin and Nitin Menon can officiate in home matches after the recommendation is approved.
A current international umpire said that umpiring only in domestic matches would make his job difficult, but he would enjoy the challenge. ‘If you are the home umpire and the home team is demanding to stop the game due to poor lighting, then you will be more likely to accept that demand than the neutral umpire. Similarly, if the home team did something wrong with the ball, then there is a possibility of some relaxation from the home umpire,” an umpire was quoted in a report as saying by Amar Ujala on anonymity.
‘The ICC had decided to keep neutral umpires for the right reasons. I hope that this arrangement will be for a short time. The challenge of Indian match officials will increase. I can say from my experience that most umpires do not want to officiate in their home team’s match because it keeps the pressure high,” he added.