ICC to name elite umpires' panel in Feb

Published: Friday, December 28, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne: The elite panel of eight umpires to officiate in Tests would be announced in February, the International Cricket Council said on Friday.
ICC chief executive Mal Speed also confirmed cricket's governing body would use two neutral umpires in all Test matches from April. There had been reports in newspapers on Friday that the ICC was considering backing away from its plan which would result in local umpires never again officiating in a Test match in their countries. Currently, one home umpire and one neutral umpire officiate in Test matches and while that may have eliminated allegations of bias, it has not necessarily improved the standard of umpiring. Speed hopes the move to dramatically reduce the number of umpires officiating in international cricket will improve the standard of officiating. "We will have (a panel of) eight umpires that will do 95 per cent of the Test matches," Speed said. "Then we will have a supporting panel which will consist of two umpires from each (Test playing) country so in total there will be 28 umpires that will be eligible for international cricket. "In contrast we had 74 umpires who stood in international matches last year and that's too many." Umpires will be selected by Speed and chairman of the cricket playing committee, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar. For One-day Internationals from April, the ICC will use one home umpire and one international umpire as opposed to the current practice of two home umpires. The neutral umpire for One-day internationals will probably come from the supplementary panel of 20 with the elite eight-man panel concentrating on the Tests. In addition an elite five-man panel of referees, to be headed by Sri Lankan Ranjan Madugalle, will also be appointed to oversee games. The referees and umpires will be on two-year contracts. Speed said the ICC would give players a chance to have their say on who should be appointed to the umpiring panel. Both Speed and ICC chairman Malcolm Gray have met with the Australian and South African players during the second Test match here. Speed said with an elite panel of umpires the ICC would be able to provide far more assistance to umpires in a bid to eliminate poor decisions. "If an umpire is clearly out of form we will work with him and we will work a lot harder with umpires than we have done previously," he said.

2001 plagued with off-field controversies
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