Special Correspondent

Aimed at tackling substandard umpiring

20 odd umpires to be identified at the end of the 2007-08 season

S. Venkataraghavan to grade them

Mumbai: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to initiate a unique concept of ‘umpire’s coach’ from the 2007-08 domestic season for all senior tournaments. The move is aimed at tackling substandard umpiring hands-on and to overhaul and fine-tune the quality of umpiring for the domestic season.

Technological assistance will be provided to the ‘umpire’s coach’ to monitor, assess and correct, should on-field umpires make mistakes on decisions, including line calls at the conclusion of a match.

There have been large-scale reports of dubious decisions by umpires in the BCCI’s senior and junior tournaments. Captains and coaches have not lost the opportunity to take grievances to the BCCI every year. “In many cases it’s true, but we did not have a system or yardstick whereby the performance of an umpire could be evaluated properly. There’s no system to pin point mistakes. We are hopeful the umpire’s coach concept will find a solution and enhance the quality of umpiring in India’s domestic tournaments,” said Ratnakar Shetty, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), BCCI.

Video backup

Initially the BCCI will post 10 retired umpires for the senior tournaments. They will have the benefit of viewing the match on a monitor. Six cameras will be used to record the match and all incidents — appeals, line calls, including, no balls. A dedicated software, programmed by the Indian cricket team’s analyst S. Ramakrishnan will automatically ‘tag’ all the incidents.

“The umpire’s coach will get an opportunity to sit with the on-field umpires to show the mistakes made and correct them after the match. The BCCI will pick 30 or 35 elite panel umpires for the senior tournament matches. The Match Referee will report to the BCCI, but the umpire’s coach will have a major role in assessing the on-field umpires.

“We plan to identify 20 odd umpires at the end of the 2007-08 season. Former ICC Elite Panel umpire S. Venkataraghavan, who is the Director of Umpires, BCCI, will grade these umpires. Venkat can visit any venue and see the video recordings,” said Mr. Shetty.

Reliable and effective

Mr. Shetty revealed that there have been instances of umpires requesting captains to be lenient while assessing them. “The captains awarded marks to the umpires, but from the forthcoming season, the umpire’s coach has been given the responsibility. The idea is to develop a reliable and effective system to ascertain the quality of an umpire and make sure that matches are officiated capably and efficiently leaving no room for doubt.”

Meanwhile, it’s understood that ICC is satisfied with the progress made by Suresh Shastri and Amish Sahebha, India’s representatives on the ICC’s panel of umpires for ODIs since last October. Doug Cowie, the ICC’s Umpires and Referees manager has informed the BCCI that Shastri and Sahebha, have done well in the limited chances they have got.

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