No. 40 April 16, 2011

Neutral umpires

They made their first appearance when a Pakistan captain invited two Indian umpires to stand in a Test against West Indies


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Did the world become a happier place after neutral umpires came in? © Associated Press

1992

Cricket's first decisive step towards quelling the age-old accusations that had dogged home umpiring came on November 7, 1986, when Indian umpires VK Ramaswamy and Piloo Reporter stood in a Test against West Indies in Lahore.

The move was masterminded by Imran Khan, who was sick of the carping after every series in Pakistan, and he furthered the idea by inviting John Hampshire and John Holder (both from England) for the home series against India in 1989-90.

The ICC soon realised it was the way forward. One neutral umpire per Test was appointed on an experimental basis in 1992, and the system was adopted two years later. The natural progression to two neutrals was made in 2002, starting with India's tour of the West Indies.

As a result, umpires became the most travelled members of the cricket community, and were no longer charged with partisanship. But the irony is this: home teams have fared better since the introduction of a neutral umpire, with a win-loss ratio of 1.57:1 compared to 1.43:1 before.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003

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