The Investec Ashes 2013 July 18, 2013

Reopen debate on neutral umpires - Richardson

David Richardson, the ICC chief executive, has said that the issue of neutral umpires is once again up for debate in light of events leading from the first Ashes Test, with the workload on the four neutral officials available for the England-Australia Test being scrutinised.

With the ICC recently pushing the pair of Billy Bowden and Asad Rauf to the associate panel, the ICC elite panel, which comprises 12 officials, is left with only four umpires available for the Ashes considering the other eight are from Australia and England. And it is these four - Aleem Dar, Marais Erasmus, Tony Hill and Kumar Dharmasena - who are scheduled be rotated over the next six months to officiate in the remaining eight Ashes Tests.

"Whether we need to re-debate the whole neutral umpires point again, which we have done on numerous occasions, perhaps with DRS, maybe the need to have neutral umpires is not what it used to be. I don't think umpires ever cheated but the perception of them cheating was a problem," Richardson told the BBC's Test Match Special.

Last year, Simon Taufel, a former elite umpire, who is now the ICC umpire training and performance manager, told ESPNcricinfo, that neutrality was not an issue anymore.

"The elite panel has the 12 best umpires in the world and they do the majority of international cricket, but you do have to provide opportunities for other umpires coming through from home boards to show their skills and ability, allow them to work on their game. So it is always a balancing of the development. There is no perfect system," Taufel said.

Steve Waugh, former Australia captain, agreed with Richardson's view. "I would welcome that," he said. "Players would be comfortable with the best umpires umpiring the biggest games. With the DRS system around, the eyes of the world are on their decisions. It is a good thing for the game. And as Dave said, it does put a bit of pressure on the four umpires.

"It would be good to see an Australian umpire, for whom, like a player, this would be the pinnacle of his career - umpiring a Test match at Lord's. Right now it is difficult for him to do that. Just like an English umpire would like to be umpiring at Lord's."

For the moment Richardson said the ICC had more resources at hand in case it became necessary to appoint separate umpires for the remainder of the Ashes series in England or Australia later in the year. "We are not restricted those four. We have got 26 other international panel of umpires who would be eligible to be appointed if we needed them.

"These are guys nominated by their home boards and form almost the second tier of umpiring. People like Billy Bowden haven't been relegated to the wilderness. He could argue he is the thirteenth-best."

Waugh said that during Tuesday's MCC world committee meeting, one of the suggestions was to allow the umpires getting a couple of reviews to facilitate correct decisions. "We tossed up the idea whether the umpires should have two reviews themselves. May be that is something to look at in the future. The bottom line is there have been more good decisions over the last couple of years because of the system in place. In general it works well in conjunction with good umpiring."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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