ICC’s move to improve umpiring standards

Barely three months ago the International Cricket Council (ICC) was having concerns about the below-par umpiring across formats globally.Keeping that in view —and the alleged involvement of a few umpires in spot-fixing episode in the recent past—the week-long fourth annual ICC umpire related programme beginning in Nagpur on Monday assumes significance.

Although the programme is specifically focussed on “training and development” of umpires, ICC may take the opportunity to tell umpire managers/ coaches from various countries to re-inforce into officials the need to remain focussed on the game all the time.

“The schedule of umpires’ meetings commences with the National Board Umpire Manager (NBUM) meeting, an annual twoday meeting designed to improve the umpire development programmes of the ICC and each of the Full Members,” an ICC spokesperson told Mail Today. “These meetings are about coaching, training and development, and do not focus on new technologies,” the spokesperson said. “ Spot- fixing is a matter for the Anti- Corruption and Security Unit, and the ICC does not comment on ACSU activities.” This meeting will be attended by the NBUMs, Simon Taufel, the ICC Performance and Training Manager, who is assigned to India, and the three other umpire coaches on this panel.

The programme will be run by Vince van der Bijl, the ICC umpire and referees’ manager.

The NBUM-umpires meeting will be followed by a ‘Coach the Coach’ workshop from July 17 to 20, a new initiative by the ICC. “Former international umpires Bomie Jamula and V. N. Kulkarni will represent India at this workshop,” Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI’s general manager (game development),” told Mail Today. “Besides, four umpires – S. Ravi, Anil Chaudhary, K. Srinath and O. Nandan – will represent India at a one- day workshop for third umpires on Friday.”

Speaking about the programme, Shetty said: “This is an opportunity where countries exchange with each other what they are doing on umpiring front. It is also an educational programme.” The ICC spokesperson said that it was agreed at last year’s umpire managers’ meeting that every ICC Full Member country should have one or two umpire trainers to support the domestic education programme for umpires.

“It was also agreed to hold a ‘Coach the Coach’ workshop/ meeting. The meeting will be run by Simon Taufel and the ICC umpire coaches, and will be attended by the national Board umpire managers and their nominated trainers,” said the spokesperson. “This workshop aims to produce consistent umpire coaching and training techniques globally.” This umpire coaches’ congregation is expected to be crucial as ICC wants to raise the standard of umpiring globally.

Sources say that at an ICC Board meeting in Dubai in April, ICC CEO David Richardson informed the house that umpires had performed “below expectations” in Tests, One-day Internationals and while reviewing replays as TV official. A source informed Richardson candidly said that it was “ frustrating” for teams as well as spectators.

Richardson further informed that the standards picked up since February, and the induction of Taufel, a five- time winner of the ICC Umpire of the Year award, by the game’s world governing body was a big boost.

It was a new role designed for the articulate Australian, who surprisingly quit umpiring in September last year, most probably to assume the new responsibility of the newly-created post of the Umpire Performance and Training Manager.

The source said that Taufel’s induction has helped umpires enhance focus. “They are more disciplined now. They particularly understand ICC playing conditions and interpret them more accurately,” he said.

Taufel is also credited with providing the umpires with immediate video feedback on aspects that are good at performing well. The 42-year-old, who officiated in 74 Test matches, 174 ODIs and 34 Twenty20 Internationals, used to himself prepare meticulously as an umpire and the same professionalism he has brought to the table in a different role.

Taufel also helps umpires interpret the Decision Review System as correctly as possible.

Meanwhile, Delhi’s Anil Chaudhary could well be inducted into the ICC International Panel of Umpires. It is learnt that Sudhir Asnani, one of the two on- field Indians on the panel, hasn’t had a good outing and could be replaced by the ICC. Shetty said that the names of the umpires are yet to be sent to the ICC.


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