Mumbai made a winning start to their 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season after beating Baroda by 309 runs on Thursday. While Prithvi Shaw stole the show with his quick-fire double hundred, it was Baroda all-rounder Yusuf Pathan who grabbed most of the headlines. The out of favour cricketer refused to leave the field after been given out by the on-field umpire in the second innings.
Pathan was adjudged out for bat-and-pad catch to short-leg. However, replays showed that the ball had hit only the pads and did not find the edge of the bat. An infuriated Pathan held on to the pitch for almost a minute after being declared out, until Mumbai captain Ajinkya Rahane requested him to nip the matter in the bud.
Since first-class cricket in India is deprived of the Decision Review System, the aggrieved could not save his wicket.
India's sub-standard umpiring landscape
While India has produced some of the best cricketers in the world, it has historically been short of quality supply of umpires. The poor standard of Indian umpiring has been debated upon for years now. The Board of Cricket Control in India has done little to improve the umpiring landscape, with howlers happening every now and then in domestic cricket as well as the Indian Premier League.
However, with new BCCI President Sourav Ganguly having taken guard, the umpires are hoping that the standard of umpiring in the country will finally improve.
Ganesh Iyer, who has stood in first-class games for 14 years, has come up with several issues that need to be addressed in the umpiring landscape. Speaking exclusively to Sportskeeda, Iyer said:
There are several things I would expect from the new President for the umpires. The National Academy of Umpires in Nagpur needs to be revitalised and activated. Then there should be a one-time honorarium for all first-class umpires in line with the players. SOP also needs to be created for umpiring appraisals.
Iyer also emphasized on the importance of having scorer examinations, a practice that he says stopped 20 years ago.
Scorers' examinations should be held all over India. The last exams were held in 1998, it has been 20 years. There should also be strict medical tests for match officials with no leeway for any shortcomings.
Recently, retired Australian umpire Simon Taufel had stressed on the importance of having managers for umpires, through which they can know of their assessment. Similarly Iyer, a former co-ordinator of the Umpires Committee of the BCCI, feels that there should be a national manager for all umpires.
There should be a professional national umpire manager who can act as a link between umpires and administration which can be a redressal forum.
Sportskeeda also caught up with Piloo Reporter, the only Indian umpire to stand in an ODI World Cup. Interestingly, it was Reporter who was the umpire when Ganguly made his Ranji Trophy debut. The 81-year-old recalled:
I was the umpire when Sourav made his Ranji Trophy debut in the 1989-90 final between Bengal and Delhi. He was just 17-18 years old then and had smashed some five fours. After that whenever I visited Calcutta for any match, Sourav was always very kind to me. He is extremely experienced so definitely he will address all the issues in the board one by one, including umpiring. I hope he turns out to be as good an administrator as he was as a cricketer.
Reporter, who umpired in 14 Tests and 22 ODIs, further added to the aspects that need to be addressed in order to elevate the umpiring standards in the country:
I think medical tests need to be held for all the umpires. Some of them are umpiring without being medically fit. Some are hard of hearing but still umpiring. This is something the board needs to look into. During my time, all umpires underwent frequent medical tests and with most Indian umpires over 50 years of age, medical tests are a must. Someone may have diabetes, someone else may have blood pressure.