England in West Indies 2008-09 January 24, 2010

The loneliness of the long-distance umpire

England's series in South Africa showed that the ICC's elite officials have never been less appreciated or more abused, writes Jamie Jackson in the Observer.

What is wrong with the job? There is the loneliness; the long hours; the exhausting travel; and the intense scrutiny by the media, especially by former players on TV. There are arguments over the use of technology; open indignation from players; and a perceived lack of support from the ICC when the muck flies. Among those who have officiated at the top level are plenty who believe that the modern-day umpire is an ­ isolated individual engaged in a ­thank- less task for relatively modest reward – around £65,000 a year. The working conditions can breed an unhealthy ­paranoia.

Vic Marks, in the same paper, says that the referral system certainly needs some tinkering.

There has been much talk of the principle that "the umpire's decision is final" and how it represents one of the absolute and inviolable tenets of the game – as if the game was designed for the benefit of the umpires rather than the players or spectators. The notion that the umpire's authority is constantly undermined by the UDRS makes little sense to me.

Michael Carberry was ready to quit cricket in 2005. Now he’s on the brink of a first Test cap for the tour to Bangladesh, writes Simon Wilde in the Sunday Times, which also ranks England's performers on the the trip to South Africa.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo