Umpires turn to Skype for improvement

The top 11 umpires log on to Skype three days a week to share a variety of ideas and knowledge for their allround growth.

Bangalore: As part of a multi-faceted fast-track programme designed to improve the umpiring standards, a few top Indian umpires are using Skype as a tool to raise their standards, besides being asked to compulsorily speak in English for better communication during matches and learn the basics in handling computer.

The BCCI, whose umpires’ review committee has come up with these ideas, may also hire the top 10 umpires on full-time contract in order to meet their goal of having an Indian as part of the ICC’s Elite Panel. No Indian has been part of this panel for a few years.

All these steps are being taken ahead of the 2012-13 season, beginning this month.

The most innovative of these measures to improve is turning to Skype, through which umpires chat and can also make cheap calls. The top 11 umpires log on to Skype three days a week to share a variety of ideas and knowledge for their allround growth, as per the new ambitious programme designed by the three-member BCCI umpires’ review committee.

Former India captain and Elite Panel umpire S Venkatraghavan heads that which also includes former ex- Test umpires VK Ramaswamy and AV Jayaprakash, who came up with the idea to use Skype as a tool for better coordination and exchange of ideas.

“There’s definitely an improvement in the quality of umpiring in the last five-six years. And we are continuously updating the umpires’ education programme and assessing their performances through umpire coaches. We have taken several measures for raising the umpiring standards further,” Ratnakar Shetty, chief administrative officer of the BCCI, told MAIL TODAY.

These days the 11 top umpires log on to Skype at specified times to share their thoughts. “Members of each group are supposed to log on to Skype three days in a week at pre-decided times to discuss various topics, like how to improve communication between match officials, protocol, different situations and some common words that are used with TV director during the recording/ telecast of matches.”

That is not all. “Umpires who can’t converse in English have been told to attend English classes at good institutes and produce the certificate after completing the course. They’ve also been asked to do a certificate course in basic computer knowledge,” he said.

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