Members of the ICC Elite Umpires panel have sometimes come in for a bit of flak over the years. Some umpires were perhaps kept on a bit too long (Steve Bucknor) while others should perhaps never have been on there at all (Daryl Harper).
The Elite Panel system is supposed to have the best umpires in the world. If this is true why is Bruce Oxenford still there after his mindless performance as third umpire in the Champions Trophy final? And yes, Yates is being very kind in using the word mindless when far stronger words would have been more appropriate.
The Elite Panel system is supposed to ensure the best umpires officiating in tests, with no possibility of bias towards their home countries because an English umpire won’t officiate a test match where England are playing. This means that the Elite Panel umpires will spend a lot of time away from home, as Martin Williamson discusses here, reminding us that Peter Willey declined an offer to be on the Elite Panel. Mike Dickson gives a beautifully concise assessment in his appreciation of Peter Willey when he says that
Any system that gives Daryl Harper more Tests than Peter Willey must have something wrong with it.
Today’s announcement of the new appointments to the Elite Umpires panel is good news for two worthy cricketers who have become good umpires – England’s Richard Illingworth and Australia’s Paul Reiffel. It is also bad news for two umpires – Pakistan’s Asad Rauf and the flamboyant New Zealander Brent “Billy” Bowden.
Asad Rauf has been mired in corruption allegations and a police investigation and was dropped from the Champions Trophy as a result, while Bowden is known and sometimes mocked for his bent finger and extravagant signalling.
Along with the exceptional Aleem Dar, Asad Rauf has helped repair the tarnished image of Pakistani umpiring while sporting a decent mullet. Bowden came along as a breath of fresh air even if some didn’t like his style and wasn’t anywhere near as bad an umpire as Daryl Harper during his early years on the international circuit.
However, Bowden’s recent times as Third Umpire haven’t been as good as they perhaps should have been. Yates isn’t sure that Bowden has done any Oxenfords** during his recent efforts but there has been criticism on Twitter and the ICC umpires’ selection panel clearly weren’t satisfied that a new contract was justified. The same being true about Rauf although it was made it clear that the recent developments were not a factor in their decision.
Yates is still not sure the Elite Panel deserves that title. The presence of Oxenford, Kumar Dharmasena and Steve Davis suggests that there is still work to be done to improve the Panel and its performance. Note also that there are no Indian umpires on the Elite Panel and haven’t been since the retirement of Srinivas Venkataraghavan.
Are umpires who get dropped from the Elite Panel ever reselected?
Yates has been looking for a chance to use a favourite quote from The 12th Man Billy Birmingham, in his impression of Bill Lawry and this is it.
“Piss off, you’re out!”
**To Oxenford – verb – to give a batsman out as third umpire when there is not enough evidence to do so.