In a late change, the ICC has tweaked the duties of the officials for the fourth Ashes Test, swapping the Sri Lankan pair of Kumar Dharmasena and Ruchira Palliyaguruge around. This means Dharmasena will partner South African Marais Erasmus in the middle at Old Trafford, as well as in the final Test at The Oval, while Palliyaguruge, originally listed as one of the on-field umpires, will be the TV umpire for the final two Tests of the series.
As per the original appointments, Dharmasena, who had paired with Erasmus in the eventful men's World Cup final at Lord's in July, was scheduled to be the TV umpire for the Old Trafford Test.
ESPNcricnfo understands that Palliyaguruge, who is on the ICC's International Panel, was always scheduled to be the TV umpire for the final Test of the Ashes, starting September 16. But his duties at Old Trafford were changed because the ICC wanted two Elite Panel umpires officiating on the field in the final two Tests of the marquee series, which is locked 1-1.
Although the ICC did not make the reasons behind the changes public, it isn't a secret that the standard of umpiring in the first three Tests has been iffy, with Joel Wilson, Chris Gaffaney and Aleem Dar all making a number of errors.
Australia's equally poor reviewing was also exposed when Wilson incorrectly judged Ben Stokes not out in an lbw decision off Nathan Lyon during the penultimate over of the Headingley Test.
Incidentally, Trinidadian Wilson was one of the two umpires (along with England's Michael Gough) elevated by the ICC in July to the Elite Panel after the annual review done by a panel comprising Geoff Allardice (ICC general manager - cricket), the match referees' pairing of Ranjan Madugalle and David Boon, and Sanjay Manjrekar (commentator, former India batsman).
Dharmasena and Erasmus, too, were in the spotlight during the men's World Cup final between England and New Zealand at Lord's when England were incorrectly awarded six runs instead of five in an overthrow incident in the final over of the match. England went on to win the final.
Dharmasena subsequently admitted the error but said he would never regret the decision. He was also involved in an incident with Jason Roy in the semi-final between England and Australia when he incorrectly gave Roy out caught behind.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne