Ahead of the highly anticipated India-England series, International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed the appointment of home umpires for the first two Tests. Since cricket resumed amid the ongoing pandemic, umpires from overseas have been hosting the games. With the latest announcement, the trend of home umpires officiating the Tests will return.
The pair of Anil Chaudhary and Virender Sharma will make their maiden Test appearances in the first two Tests of the four-match Test series between the two countries. The ICC, on Thursday, announced that Nitin Menon, the only Indian official on the Elite panel umpire from India, will be standing in both the games and will be joined by the debutants.
Both Chaudhary and Sharma are part of ICC’s International Panel of umpires. Chaudhary will stand in the first Test match and Sharma will replace him in the second. C Shamshuddin, the third umpire for the first Test will hand over the duty for the following match to Chaudhary. Former fast bowler Javagal Srinath has been appointed as the sole match referee for both the first two Test games, starting from February 5 and February 13 respectively.
The roster of officials for the third and fourth Tests, which run from February 24 to 28 and then from March 4 to 8 in Ahmedabad will be announced later by the ICC. All the white ball games, following the Tests, including five T20Is and three ODIs, will also have Indian umpires.
In a normal scenario, the ‘neutral umpires’ policy is preferred by the world body for bilateral games. However, the pandemic situation and restricted travel facilities, forced temporary suspension of the policy. This sparked debates worldwide. Last year, West Indies Test skipper Jason Holder questioned the ICC that if players can be asked to adhere to bio-secure environment norms then why can Elite umpires not be asked to travel for bilateral series. For the Test series between Bangladesh and West Indies, England’s Richard Illingworth was facilitated as a neutral on-field umpire because hosts Bangladesh did not have qualified umpires in the ICC’S Elite Panel.