A handful of senior match referees are extremely disappointed at the BCCI’s decision to retire them because they have crossed the age of 60. Experienced and respected match referees who will not be on the duty roster from season 2013-14 are Bengal’s Raju Mukherjee, Karnataka’s B. Raghunath and Punjab’s Balbir Singh. They are into their 60s with a few more other ‘senior citizen’ match referees.

The BCCI has already asked the member associations to nominate two persons within the age of 60 for match referee placements for the forthcoming season.

In the last season, around 50 match referees on the BCCI panel received a daily fee of Rs.15,000 for first-class and one-day matches, and Rs. 7,500 for Twenty20 matches. Senior match referees averaged between 30 and 40 days of duty across junior and senior tournaments.

“The umpires committee of the BCCI made a proposal to retire match referees who have crossed the age of 60. It was also decided to conduct medical examinations on the umpires, umpire-coaches and match referees once they cross the age of 55. The appointment of the match officials falls under this committee,” said Prof. Ratnakar Shetty, General Manager, Game Development, BCCI.

Clearly, the umpires committee and BCCI’s decision may not go down well with the senior match referees who are bound to feel that India’s tough cricketing environment at junior and senior levels need their experience.

On the face if it, it appears that the BCCI is keen to bring in cricketers who are recently retired, and are young enough, into mainstream cricket.

The BCCI, though, could still reconsider retaining the services of Mukherjee, Raghunath and the others who have been playing a vital role in the running of the game, especially in the senior tournaments.

Perhaps this topic may be discussed at the working committee meeting to be held at Kolkata on July 28.

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