TOI has learned that the Indian cricket board (BCCI) was keen on roping in the services of more umpires from ICC’s Elite panel but only three overseas Elite umpires have agreed, while others have turned down the request. As for the Elite panel of match referees, only Javagal Srinath is present.
The Indian cricket board usually hires around six foreign Elite umpires during an IPL season. There was an assumption that there would be more Elite umpires this season since there is no international cricket happening in the IPL window.
Sources, however, said BCCI is still pursuing the umpires.
“BCCI had approached quite a few Elite umpires but they have rejected the offer. For instance, Kumar Dharmasena, who has been a regular in IPL over the years, has categorically said no to BCCI. He said he would be busy with cricket in Sri Lanka,” a source said.
The other umpires have not clearly spelt out their objection but it is likely they are being cautious. “The Elite panel umpires draw a heavy package from ICC’s contract. So, they are not exactly jobless. They don’t want to take any risk in these times,” the source added.
Chris Gaffaney from New Zealand and Richard Illingworth and Michael Gough from England are the foreign umpires, along with the latest inductee in the Elite panel, India’s Nitin Menon. All three have confirmed.
India’s International Panel umpires Anil Chaudhary, C Shamshuddin, Virender Sharma and KN Ananthapadmanabhan and former Elite panel umpire S Ravi are also on the list. While 12 umpires are entrusted with the on-field and TV umpire duties, three will only do the job of the fourth umpire.
They will act as third umpire in case any on-field officials are replaced by the TV umpire in case of emergency. BCCI sources said this could turn out to be good exposure for Indian umpires, who have been severely criticised in the past.
Two Australian umpires who were part of the initial list made in March have now been replaced by their English counterparts. “BCCI preferred umpires with experience of officiating matches in a bubble. That’s why the two Englishmen have been hired,” the BCCI source said.
Once the formal letter is issued, a seminar will be conducted to ensure consistent performance. The senior umpires in India have already undergone TV umpire simulation exercises and the BCCI had also conducted online quiz programmes during the lockdown.