Sachin Tendulkar is one of the big names missing the Twenty20 World Championship
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The Twenty20 World Championship was launched amid much hype in Johannesburg last week, but the event has already lost a bit of gloss with the news that three leading Indian batsmen won't be taking part and the umpires will be their usual emotionless selves.
A daunting international schedule can be blamed for the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly, who have all decided to rest during the September 11-24 tournament, but the world's most flamboyant umpire, Billy Bowden, will be missing due to an ICC suspension.
Bowden is one of the umpires suspended for the Championship due to his involvement in the World Cup final fiasco in Barbados and his inimitable style certainly would have fitted in with the whole Twenty20 concept.
In South African domestic Twenty20 cricket, umpires have in the past exaggerated their signals, some bounding around in manic glee, but the umpires for the international event will go down a more conservative route.
"We obviously like everything to be high-tempo, but we would not want any umpire to feel out of their comfort zone. Locally, we have left it up to the umpire, but the Twenty20 World Championship has very much an international flavour and the ICC will tell umpires to officiate in their normal, stock-standard way," tournament director Steve Elworthy told Cricinfo on Monday.
Nine umpires - Mark Benson, Billy Doctrove, Daryl Harper, Asad Rauf, Simon Taufel, Steve Davis, Ian Howell, Nigel Llong and Tony Hill - have been appointed for the event. Bowden, Steve Bucknor, Aleem Dar, and Rudi Koertzen are the umpires the ICC have sanctioned following their mistakes in the World Cup final.
Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly announced last week that they would not be available for the tournament. But as the big opening day nears on September 11, Elworthy said he was thrilled with ticket sales thus far.
"We're very encouraged. A lot of the bigger matches have been sold out, such as the opening game, the semis, the final and a couple of the double-header days."