This is the first time Indian umpires are making their debut in a match involving the home team after the ICC’s neutral umpire policy came into effect, thanks to the relaxation in the policy owing to travel restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Chaudhary from Delhi will officiate with India’s lone man on the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires, Nitin Menon, in the first Test in Chennai from February 5 while Sharma from Himachal Pradesh will be with Menon as an on-field umpire in the second Test starting on February 13. Chaudhary will serve as a TV umpire in the second Test, according to the ICC website.
Virender Sharma. (HPCA Photo)
The England Tests will also be Menon’s first series involving India. He had made his debut in Afghanistan’s Test against the West Indies in Lucknow in November 2019.
For match referee Javagal Srinath, the England tour will be a unique series in his ICC match official career which started in 2006. The former Karnataka pacer will be in charge of an India series for the first time after officiating 53 Test matches so far.
Like Menon, Srinath also officiated in a Test held in India – the Afghanistan-Ireland match in Dehradun 2019.
Javagal Srinath. (TOI Photo)
Meanwhile former cricketer and top-ranked BCCI umpire KN Ananthapadmanabhan will make his debut at international-level as the fourth umpire during the series. He has been appointed as the fourth official for the second and third Tests of the England tour by the Indian cricket board (BCCI). Ananthapadmanabhan, who played 105 first-class games for Kerala, was appointed to the ICC International panel in 2020 following Nitin Menon’s elevation to the elite panel.
KN Ananthapadmanabhan. (BCCI Photo)
According to ICC policy for appointing match officials, to ensure the highest possible standards and guarantee impartial adjudication, two umpires from the Elite Panel stand in almost all Test matches around the world, while one member stands with a home umpire from the International Panel of ICC Umpires for One-Day International matches.
The match referee, representing the global governing body, is also appointed from a neutral country. However, the new guidelines for international cricket following the Covid-19 pandemic is giving them a unique opportunity -the playing control team can now officiate in an international match on home soil which is otherwise not possible due to the neutrality policy.
According to the ICC’s interim changes to the playing conditions, the requirement to appoint neutral match officials will be temporarily removed from the playing conditions for all international formats owing to the current logistical challenges with international travel. The ICC will be able to appoint locally based match officials from the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Match Officials and the Emirates ICC International Panel of Match Officials.
Nitin Menon. (BCCI Photo)