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Kumar Dharmasena and Richard Kettleborough have been promoted to the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, replacing Daryl Harper and Asoka de Silva. Dharmasena and Kettleborough, who had been serving on the International Panel of ICC Umpires, were chosen by the ICC Umpires Selection Panel as part of their annual review and selection process.
Harper and de Silva, both of whom have controversial umpiring histories and, it would seem, particular troubles with the Decision Review System, have come in for some criticism over their decisions in recent times, in the light of which their demotions are hardly surprising.
Harper was one of the umpires to officiate on England's trip to the Caribbean during the trialling stages of the DRS in early 2009 and soon ran into strife. His problems came to a head during England's South Africa tour the following winter when, as third umpire, he turned down a caught-behind appeal against Graeme Smith that had been referred to him. Harper upheld the on-field umpire Tony Hill's decision because he could not hear a sound on the replay and it was suggested that he had not increased the volume setting on his monitor which would have made the edge evident. However, after an inquiry following a complaint by England coach Andy Flower the ICC said the lapse was caused by "technical failure".
A couple of months later Harper was left out of the World Twenty20 in West Indies, reportedly for "general performance reasons".
De Silva's most recent, and controversial, gaffe came during the World Cup in India when he gave Ireland's Gary Wilson out despite replays showing the batsman had offered a shot to a delivery that replays clearly indicated had hit him outside the line. The decision came in for some intense criticism, particularly from Ireland captain Will Porterfield, and it was decided that de Silva would not officiate in a couple of key group games that he was originally marked for. At the time, he was the only umpire among the 18 deployed whose success percentage in reviewed decisions was less than 50% during the tournament.
As it is the prerogative of the relevant home boards to nominate replacements on the international panel, de Silva could well move to fill the vacancy left by Dharmasena's promotion as the decision would rest with Sri Lanka Cricket. Harper's situation is a touch more uncertain. His existing contract expires in July and as it will be the England and Wales Cricket Board, rather than Cricket Australia, nominating a replacement for Kettleborough, Harper could well be out of a job.
At 38, Kettleborough is now the youngest umpire on the Elite panel. The Yorkshireman played 33 first-class matches from 1994 to 1999 for Middlesex and Yorkshire before he was included in the ECB panel of umpires in 2006. He made his international umpiring debut in the Twenty20 between England and Australia at Old Trafford in 2009 and to date has umpired in two Tests, 16 ODIs and two international Twenty20s. Like Dharmasena, Kettleborough was also in the panel of 18 umpires for the World Cup earlier this year.
The 40-year-old Dharmasena made his international umpiring debut in 2009 and has since umpired in two Tests, 25 ODIs and three T20Is. As a cricketer, he played 31 Tests and 141 ODIs for Sri Lanka between 1993 and 2004 and was part of Sri Lanka's World Cup-winning squad in 1996.
"I am honoured and delighted to have been selected," Dharmasena said. "To umpire alongside the most respected names in this noble profession and be included on the elite panel is something I wanted to achieve ever since I started umpiring. My next target is to continue to work hard, make good decisions and justify my inclusion."
"Their promotions are a result of hard work and impressive performances and will act as an inspiration to other umpires," added Dave Richardson, ICC's general manager - cricket and convener of selection panel.
Elite Panel of ICC Umpires: Billy Bowden, Aleem Dar, Steve Davis, Kumar Dharmasena, Billy Doctrove, Marais Erasmus, Ian Gould, Tony Hill, Richard Kettleborough, Asad Rauf, Simon Taufel, Rod Tucker