David Boon to become ICC match referee
David Boon sees his new role as an ICC match referee as a way to help uphold the spirit of cricket and grow the game. Boon has stepped down from Australia's selection panel to take up his new position at the ICC, where he will replace his fellow Australian Alan Hurst, who is retiring after nearly seven years as a match referee.
Boon has also resigned from his full-time job as general manager of cricket operations with Cricket Tasmania, and from July he will travel the world as a match official. After learning the ropes with the chief referee Ranjan Madugalle during the England-India series, Boon's first series in charge will be Zimbabwe's home matches against Pakistan in September.
"It is a big change. It's a new challenge," Boon told ESPNcricinfo. "I've been involved in the administration of Tasmanian cricket for 12 years and with Cricket Australia as a player and then a selector for 21 or 22 years. To be involved in world cricket is very exciting. The role to me is one that typifies a lot of the things I believe in and the traditions of the game. The game should be upheld with the meaning that surrounds it.
"It has to be portrayed to the cricketing public in the right light for it to advance and grow, and this position has a role in achieving that. It is a game that crosses over cultures and joins countries. It's played in vastly different religions and cultures, but the bottom line is that everybody plays cricket. It's really important for world cricket that there's strength among nations and among players in continuing to grow the game."
The move to the ICC will be a major change for Boon, 50, although he will be used to the touring lifestyle, having travelled extensively with the Australian squad as both a selector and as a batsman who played 107 Tests and 181 one-day internationals. Boon has been on Australia's selection panel since 2000, and his departure will leave Cricket Australia searching for a replacement to join Andrew Hilditch, Greg Chappell and Jamie Cox.
His job as a selector hasn't always been easy, and the panel has copped its share of criticism over the past few years, especially for its handling of Australia's spinners. However, Boon said he was proud of his achievements with Cricket Australia, as well as with his home state; he will leave Tasmania in possession of the Sheffield Shield after they won the title in 2010-11.
"I've enjoyed the last couple of years of those challenges [as a selector]," he said. "I think Australian cricket is still very strong. We've got some really good young players coming through. I honestly think that the future is bright.
"I've been very proud to have been involved in both Tasmanian and Australian cricket. Tasmanian cricket has very much established itself, it's grown and got very strong. I'm very proud to have led a cricket department down here during the most successful on-field period that Tasmanian cricket has had. It's a bit sad to leave but I've been involved in Tassie cricket for 38 years and it'll never be far from my thoughts."
Boon will be the only Australian on the seven-man ICC panel with the departure of Hurst, 60, who will leave the game having stood in 45 Tests and 102 one-day internationals. Hurst's final matches in charge will be the third England-Sri Lanka Test in June and the five ODIs that follow.
"I have been privileged to work with a group of highly skilled and dedicated referees and umpires and have made a lot of friends in the international cricket community," Hurst said. "I am very appreciative of the opportunity that Cricket Australia and the ICC have offered me and it will remain one of the valued times of my life. I now look forward to moving on to the next phase in my life, spending more time with family and pursuing a range of interests and hobbies."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo