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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • teamxxx on April 19, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    well in my opinion,The great Imran Khan has given the world of cricket so many things, like(playing wasim,waqar,mushtaq,saeed anwar,inzamam and aaqib with a little experience of first class),reverse swing utilisation on sub continent tracks,attacking approach as a captain(to attack with your strengths) and then the invention of neutral umpiring has given the cricket fans a trust,a trust of fair game.even the standard of umpiring has improved a lot.which is a good sign for cricket.Thank You Imran Khan for your services.

  • Meety on April 18, 2011, 2:24 GMT

    Trust Imran to push thru something like that. He truly is one of the great players to be greater then his sporting achievements.

  • vknair on April 17, 2011, 23:29 GMT

    Had thought that umpires didnt have statistics "except Steve Bucknor vs. India". Some posts on this being a great move by Imran Khan - agree whole-heartedly.

  • cric_fanatics on April 17, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    @chaudhary khuram...people who play test matches on abu dhabi highways for the sake of a draw shouldn't make such absurd comments...

  • cric_fanatics on April 17, 2011, 18:56 GMT

    @anand...auss were a great team mate..and still they are a decent team...udrs or not...but yeah on some occasions ricky takes up the responsibility of the udrs on himself...:)

  • bonaku on April 17, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    Cool stat rajesh !!!! Never thought of this. But that was a brilliant move.

  • happycric on April 17, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    @maverick26 - you are comparing smallest ground in India with biggest ground in australia. It is not fair. I believe MCG is one of the biggest cricket ground in the world.

  • maverick26 on April 17, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    @ satish619chandar: having flat tracks which dont hve anything for the bowlers and boundaries with lightning fast outfields at 60-65m as compared to 90m in MCG. Isnt that an home advantage?

  • manish053 on April 17, 2011, 7:28 GMT

    it was good move and from there cricket umpiring entered in a new era where a man stood alone in ground get new respected image and also got new approtunities.Going ahead this move has curtailed power of men stood in ground and now he is only to stood in ground has to follow person sitting in pavilion called third umpire. I would be happy if S. rajesh get something by comparison DRS in order to see how much umpire's decision stands after applying DRS by players. Standing natural umpiring was good move to avoid quilling issues in and outside the ground and umpires begin to get more approtunties in internatinal cricket where technique shrinked the umpire's power as well and also may be said that it reduced respect of man stood in ground among players in some extent however referee deter this thing.

  • on April 17, 2011, 6:02 GMT

    You can be biased as you like but one cannot deny the fact that Pakistan has brought a lot of good changes in Cricket.Much more than any other cricketing nation.Whether we talk about invention of reverse swing by Sarfaraz,the doosra by Saqlain,the reverse sweep by Miandad,the Introduction of One day tactics of saving wickets and slogging in the last overs by the great Imran,the trend of utilizing the fielding restrictions of the first 15 overs by Saeed Anwar.Each time Pakistan has come up with a change that has had a big impact on the way cricket is played and cricket should be thankful and proud to have such a great nation that has given the game so much.

  • teamxxx on April 19, 2011, 11:03 GMT

    well in my opinion,The great Imran Khan has given the world of cricket so many things, like(playing wasim,waqar,mushtaq,saeed anwar,inzamam and aaqib with a little experience of first class),reverse swing utilisation on sub continent tracks,attacking approach as a captain(to attack with your strengths) and then the invention of neutral umpiring has given the cricket fans a trust,a trust of fair game.even the standard of umpiring has improved a lot.which is a good sign for cricket.Thank You Imran Khan for your services.

  • Meety on April 18, 2011, 2:24 GMT

    Trust Imran to push thru something like that. He truly is one of the great players to be greater then his sporting achievements.

  • vknair on April 17, 2011, 23:29 GMT

    Had thought that umpires didnt have statistics "except Steve Bucknor vs. India". Some posts on this being a great move by Imran Khan - agree whole-heartedly.

  • cric_fanatics on April 17, 2011, 18:58 GMT

    @chaudhary khuram...people who play test matches on abu dhabi highways for the sake of a draw shouldn't make such absurd comments...

  • cric_fanatics on April 17, 2011, 18:56 GMT

    @anand...auss were a great team mate..and still they are a decent team...udrs or not...but yeah on some occasions ricky takes up the responsibility of the udrs on himself...:)

  • bonaku on April 17, 2011, 17:50 GMT

    Cool stat rajesh !!!! Never thought of this. But that was a brilliant move.

  • happycric on April 17, 2011, 17:41 GMT

    @maverick26 - you are comparing smallest ground in India with biggest ground in australia. It is not fair. I believe MCG is one of the biggest cricket ground in the world.

  • maverick26 on April 17, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    @ satish619chandar: having flat tracks which dont hve anything for the bowlers and boundaries with lightning fast outfields at 60-65m as compared to 90m in MCG. Isnt that an home advantage?

  • manish053 on April 17, 2011, 7:28 GMT

    it was good move and from there cricket umpiring entered in a new era where a man stood alone in ground get new respected image and also got new approtunities.Going ahead this move has curtailed power of men stood in ground and now he is only to stood in ground has to follow person sitting in pavilion called third umpire. I would be happy if S. rajesh get something by comparison DRS in order to see how much umpire's decision stands after applying DRS by players. Standing natural umpiring was good move to avoid quilling issues in and outside the ground and umpires begin to get more approtunties in internatinal cricket where technique shrinked the umpire's power as well and also may be said that it reduced respect of man stood in ground among players in some extent however referee deter this thing.

  • on April 17, 2011, 6:02 GMT

    You can be biased as you like but one cannot deny the fact that Pakistan has brought a lot of good changes in Cricket.Much more than any other cricketing nation.Whether we talk about invention of reverse swing by Sarfaraz,the doosra by Saqlain,the reverse sweep by Miandad,the Introduction of One day tactics of saving wickets and slogging in the last overs by the great Imran,the trend of utilizing the fielding restrictions of the first 15 overs by Saeed Anwar.Each time Pakistan has come up with a change that has had a big impact on the way cricket is played and cricket should be thankful and proud to have such a great nation that has given the game so much.

  • on April 17, 2011, 6:01 GMT

    I think umpires should be able to contribute to their nation's points in ICC table. Each umpire should be rated and credit be given to home board for the good decision they take in the form of points and rating which are currently governed only by team's wins and losses in matches. In this way the boards will have some interest to produce good umpires and send them to ICC. Right now the contribution towards elite international umpiring from a cash rich board like BCCI is below par and the umpires who surface from India prove to be very miserable when it comes to decision making on the field. It is a shame to BCCI that even Zimbabwe are able to produce better umpires than India.

  • donda on April 17, 2011, 5:51 GMT

    Only a leader like Imran Khan can take a step like that because he was not afraid of any body and he never cared about results. It was great great idea by Imran Khan and cricket fans will salute him for that. What a leader he was. Great job Imrak Khan.

  • on April 17, 2011, 4:59 GMT

    Why does all this talk about sub-continental teams providing rank turners always crops up? When India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan & Bangladesh travel to Australia,Newzealand, England, South Africa & West Indies, aren't they made to play on bouncy pitches with balls jumping into their mouths? Bottom line is that every home team seeks to take home advantages. That's why an 'away' win commands such a high premium. Whether it is in India or in Australia.

  • on April 17, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Some wrong info up thr.... first time neutral umpires were planted in 1800's in a cricket match between an Indian village called Champaner (central India) and Birtishraj.... watch Lagaan..... ;)

  • ribtuhud on April 17, 2011, 2:03 GMT

    I remember watching a Tour game in India once. Redpath was struck on the pads and even the umpire appealed! Enough said.

  • on April 17, 2011, 0:05 GMT

    it would be interesting to see what the ratio is, if one excludes tests played in australia, zimbabwe and bangladesh... that might provide some more insight...usually test series in these countries have been really one-sided over the past decade

  • on April 16, 2011, 20:35 GMT

    Imran Khan did the whole world a great favour... but west indian and indian umpiring was worst eve in those times. In famous benglur test, Iqbal qasim n tauseef ahmed hd to get 30 wickets in one innings to bowl india out. watch video for refernce. and Imran did it in pakistan,cuz it was the only place where he could get his thought implmeneted.

  • on April 16, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    who can forget the umpiring during Australia tour of india in 2001 and when Indians toured down under last time, and when teams used to tour sri lanka, thank god cricket is not played that way anymore

  • on April 16, 2011, 17:30 GMT

    I wonder what the stats of the decisions for and against Miandad in Pakistan would like before and after nuetral umpires were introduced

  • on April 16, 2011, 16:26 GMT

    Lets not single out Pakistan. Umpiring in other parts of the world were not stellar as well.. Check out the famous WI-NZ tour of 1979-80. While player behaviour were indeed poor, the umpiring could take a lot of blame for that. Nice for others to preach about subcontinent now!!! http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/237606.html

  • NumberXI on April 16, 2011, 15:31 GMT

    What is interesting is that after Pakistan failed to win that Test series - Imran Khan asked for neutral umpires because he figured Pakistan were good enough to beat India without home umpires - the neutral umpires were dispensed with for the ODI series that followed.

    While neutral umpires were an idea whose time had come, the case for neutral umpires was furthered when a debuting Australian umpire went trigger happy with LBWs when India toured there in 1992 - Darrell Hair would, of course, go on to become notorious for a number of other things, but that was the first time he made news for the wrong reasons, though not the last.

  • voyager on April 16, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    Mastermind for this idea was Noor Khan, Pakistan board chief in early eighties, and all pakistan players including Imran was supportive of that.

  • trialsofteval on April 16, 2011, 14:40 GMT

    Instead of dragging the whole gamut of things that are a problem in cricket.

    even if the Pakistani umps were partial in their verdict( god knows they were the most partial of the lot)

    Imran Khan really needs to be lauded to take the initiative, way to go Imran

  • Engle on April 16, 2011, 13:59 GMT

    In any competition, be it cricket or debating, the adjudicator/umpire/referee/judge cannot come from one of the contestants home town. That person has to be completely free from a conflict of interest position, be it real or perceived. This point should have emanated from the administrators, the so called brain trust of the game - yet it came from a cricketer who had the courage and the influence to put the game on an equal footing and make it as fair as possible for all.

  • ScriptWriter on April 16, 2011, 13:39 GMT

    We easily tend to forget that Imran Khan had no choice but to invite neutral umpires. Teams refused to tour there, courtesy their local umpires' partisanship.

  • ARIF3011 on April 16, 2011, 12:20 GMT

    The win ratio has changed not because of umpiring but because almost every test match see a result now. In earlie days most of tests used to be drawn games due to slow speed of batting and some rules of the game. Since ODI and T20 came on the scene the players temperament has chenged and gone are the days when there were maiden after maidens. Now players play for result and ration is realistic.

  • on April 16, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    The reason why this was done was because during those days, Pakistan had 13 players instead of 11.

  • KiwiRocker- on April 16, 2011, 11:21 GMT

    Omer- I agree with you regarding Khan's influence to game of cricket- Reverse Swing, Neutral Umpires, innovative game plan to save wickets and attack in slong overs were brilliant. Comparison of Dhoni to Khan is a laughable and premature. I am aware that Ian Chappal made this remark but then again Ian Chappel had also declared India, England, Australia and SA as his semi finalists...hahah! Yes right!

  • KiwiRocker- on April 16, 2011, 11:15 GMT

    Chris Howard- If players can travel so can umpires...Do you really think home umpires can do the job? India does not have a single quality umpires because Indian umpiring has always been one of the worse. I recall seeing Kumble's 10 wickets against Pakistan and some of them were beyond joke. Neutral umpires are a fine example of innovation and Khan should be hailed for that. Imran Khan was a true leader on field and outside field. Khan knew that along with West Indies team, Pakistan was the most powerful team at that time so he could influenece such fine things. It is a real shame that Indian team( so called top) is not showing leadership. Indian batsmen( Tendulkar was the most vocal) against DRS and ultimately same DRS saved him against Pakistan and he went on to score an extra 62 runs. Actually DRS along with Pakistan's pathetic fielding won that match for India otherwise Pakistan was better than India both in batting as well as fielding.Neutral umpires and DRS are good for game!

  • on April 16, 2011, 11:00 GMT

    Imran Khan was the most innovative captain and cricketer of his times.. Really...

  • wittgenstein on April 16, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    All this talk about Simon Taufel not being able to umpire Australia games, is a bit silly. Cricket is not run for the benefit of Simon Taufel or Aleem Dar or some other umpire. They are all functionaries, who take up the job because it is a good profession for them.

  • on April 16, 2011, 9:58 GMT

    this is just one of the smallest examples of the contribution Imran has made to the growth of cricket. I cant believe they can even think of comparing Dhoni to him!

  • enigma77543 on April 16, 2011, 8:51 GMT

    Chaudhary Khuram Naveed, teams used to take way more home-advantage back in those days than do they today, it wasn't unusual for sub-continental teams to prepare rank-turners for western teams & western teams having grassy & bouncy pitches for sub-continental teams but I suppose you never really intended to make a point anyway. This win-loss ratio statistic is absolutely pointless, numbers don't have meaning all by themselves; earlier, almost every team played in a "draw-oriented" manner, over the last couple of decades they've been playing in a "result-oriented" manner, touring teams would always look to at least draw an away-series while the home teams didn't want to lose on their own turf & this produced lots of draws which has messed up the win-loss ratio, not to mention teams like SL who win lots at home & lose lots away, & there plenty of other factors involved. If that statistic was to make a point then it was like saying WG was a crap batsmen because he averaged 32 in Tests.

  • mafiasam on April 16, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    @Wambling_future , It is only possible if they make unlimited UDRS challenges available in a test match, only then having one home uimpire makes sense.

  • krsriram on April 16, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    Now that umpires from the elite panel for tests are selected by the ICC and not by the host, the rule for neutral umpires could be suitably done away with. It's a shame that Simon Taufel does not stand in matches involving Australia. Also, many umpires are seeking retirement because of their jet-setting (probably even worse than the players).

  • satish619chandar on April 16, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    Though away from the topic, i d like to reply on the Indian home advantage please!! India and England are the only countries who provides flat tracks for ODIs.. SL has own advantage, BD has its own slow tracks.. Sorry but no cricket happening in Pak.. All other countries have their own home advantage tracks even in T20 formats.. The only thing is, India have batsmen who can do things in those flat tracks!! Which ur team dont have..

  • sidzy on April 16, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    watch out india is the only team not in its favour. are they in fear of losing with udrs coming into play? lets see

  • BadMoodHesh on April 16, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    The problem with UDRS is the way that it is implemented. How can you give a team only 2 referrals??? You should allow teams to refer every decision! If that is taking too long for some ppl, then tough. better to play a T20 for 4.5 hrs and get the right decisions than play for 3.5 hrs and have wrong decisions. Ravi Shastri can fly a kite!!!!

  • Biggus on April 16, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    @Anand Varna-Oh you're a bit of a silly sausage mate. Australia are only successful because of the lack of UDRS eh? Good Lord!!!

  • on April 16, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    i think at that time umpires were not neutral but conditions were fair for all teams this is why home win loss ratio is less then current ratio. now a days teams take 110% benefit of home conditions and team like India takes 150% benefit of their home conditions. so this ratio is not about umpiring but more about conditions

  • wambling_future on April 16, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    With DRS I think we can go back to only 1 neutral umpire per match and then Simon Tauffel's dream of umpiring in Boxing Day test match might come true.

  • KP_84 on April 16, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    What has the win-loss ratio got to do with it? If the author could produce a statistic showing that home teams has recieved a favourable outcome from incorrect decisions more often in the period since 2002 than in the days before neutral umpires, then that would be more relevant. Other explanations exist for the improved win-loss ratio. Sri Lanka's improvement in Tests lead to their formidable record at home over the past decade, while Australia's improved form at home (even if some would argue it was partly due to umpires) was because they were in the possession of some of the best players in the modern era in that period.

  • on April 16, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    lets see how many world cups australia gonna win with the introduction of udrs .

  • Chris_Howard on April 16, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    With URDRS, we should no longer need neutral umpires, and our umps can get back home more and see their families more.

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  • Chris_Howard on April 16, 2011, 3:04 GMT

    With URDRS, we should no longer need neutral umpires, and our umps can get back home more and see their families more.

  • on April 16, 2011, 4:30 GMT

    lets see how many world cups australia gonna win with the introduction of udrs .

  • KP_84 on April 16, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    What has the win-loss ratio got to do with it? If the author could produce a statistic showing that home teams has recieved a favourable outcome from incorrect decisions more often in the period since 2002 than in the days before neutral umpires, then that would be more relevant. Other explanations exist for the improved win-loss ratio. Sri Lanka's improvement in Tests lead to their formidable record at home over the past decade, while Australia's improved form at home (even if some would argue it was partly due to umpires) was because they were in the possession of some of the best players in the modern era in that period.

  • wambling_future on April 16, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    With DRS I think we can go back to only 1 neutral umpire per match and then Simon Tauffel's dream of umpiring in Boxing Day test match might come true.

  • on April 16, 2011, 6:40 GMT

    i think at that time umpires were not neutral but conditions were fair for all teams this is why home win loss ratio is less then current ratio. now a days teams take 110% benefit of home conditions and team like India takes 150% benefit of their home conditions. so this ratio is not about umpiring but more about conditions

  • Biggus on April 16, 2011, 6:49 GMT

    @Anand Varna-Oh you're a bit of a silly sausage mate. Australia are only successful because of the lack of UDRS eh? Good Lord!!!

  • BadMoodHesh on April 16, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    The problem with UDRS is the way that it is implemented. How can you give a team only 2 referrals??? You should allow teams to refer every decision! If that is taking too long for some ppl, then tough. better to play a T20 for 4.5 hrs and get the right decisions than play for 3.5 hrs and have wrong decisions. Ravi Shastri can fly a kite!!!!

  • sidzy on April 16, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    watch out india is the only team not in its favour. are they in fear of losing with udrs coming into play? lets see

  • satish619chandar on April 16, 2011, 7:36 GMT

    Though away from the topic, i d like to reply on the Indian home advantage please!! India and England are the only countries who provides flat tracks for ODIs.. SL has own advantage, BD has its own slow tracks.. Sorry but no cricket happening in Pak.. All other countries have their own home advantage tracks even in T20 formats.. The only thing is, India have batsmen who can do things in those flat tracks!! Which ur team dont have..

  • krsriram on April 16, 2011, 7:49 GMT

    Now that umpires from the elite panel for tests are selected by the ICC and not by the host, the rule for neutral umpires could be suitably done away with. It's a shame that Simon Taufel does not stand in matches involving Australia. Also, many umpires are seeking retirement because of their jet-setting (probably even worse than the players).