March 13, 2002

Asoka De Silva Named in ICC Elite Umpires Panel

Leading Sri Lankan umpire Asoka De Silva was today named among the eight best umpires in world cricket, after being included in the ICC's new full time Elite Panel. In alphabetical order, the full line up of Panel members is:

* Steve Bucknor, West Indies
* Asoka De Silva, Sri Lanka
* Daryl Harper, Australia
* Rudi Koertzen, South Africa
* Dave Orchard, South Africa
* David Shepherd, England
* Russell Tiffin, Zimbabwe
* Srinivas Venkataraghavan, India

Commenting on the appointment of the game's leading umpires, ICC Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed said: "The constant, high pressure demands of international cricket means that umpiring at the highest level now has to be a full time profession, rather than a part time job. The eight men chosen to join the Elite Panel are all proven performers at Test level, who command the respect of the captains and players."

Two umpires from the Elite Panel will stand in all future Test matches and there will be one member standing with a home umpire for One Day Internationals.

All Test match captains were asked to make nominations for the Panel on behalf of their teams. These contributions were given serious consideration in making the final choices from the current panel of 20 international umpires.

The other major factor in choosing the Panel was the marks achieved by individual umpires over the past four years. These are the marks awarded by captains at the end of each Test match, which assess the umpire's performance against a range of criteria.

"Umpiring is one of the toughest tasks in international sport and this panel represents the best decision makers in the game. Their skills will help improve the overall standard of umpiring at international level and set an example for the next generation of top class umpires to follow," said Malcolm Speed.

Final selection of the Panel was made jointly by Speed, together with Sunil Gavaskar, Chairman of the ICC's Cricket Committee-Playing.

England's Peter Willey was originally invited to become a member of the panel but after considerable consideration declined the invitation citing family reasons:

"I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to be a member of ICC's Elite Panel said Willey, however, I would be required to be away from my family for a considerable amount of time if I took on the role; with this in mind I have decided that, at this stage of my career, I must put the needs of my family first."

On average, each member of the Panel will stand in 12 Test matches and 15 One Day Internationals, a potential on-field workload of 75 days per year. Umpires have agreed two year, full time contracts with the ICC and will meet together for the first time at the Referees and Umpires Workshop near Cape Town, South Africa from 21st to 24th March.

This intensive induction programme will include seminars covering legal and procedural matters relating to cricket discipline, IT training, the psychology of decision making, a presentation from the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit, medical, fitness and media training.

The first series to be played under the new system of Elite Panel umpires and Match Referees will be the triangular tournament in Sharjah starting on 10th April and involving Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. This will be followed by the West Indies v India Test series in the Caribbean beginning on the 11th April and the Zimbabwe v Australia Test series starting on the 13th April.

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