An umpire should be professional in the best sense of the word “phlegmatic, unobtrusive, dignified, courteous of absolute integrity and ever prepared to discharge his duties fearlessly and impartially. The good umpire is dedicated to the task of conducting a game so that the players get the utmost enjoyment from it. This needs the highest possible standard of umpiring and he devotes a portion of his leisure to studying, refreshing debating points of law and reinterpretation and improving his technique in every way seeking to ensure that he becomes a master of his craft. The finest umpires are those who appear to make the fewest mistakes. Even our best umpires can be mistaken in fact, but the possibility of errors may be reduced by acquiring a thorough knowledge of the Laws of the Game and by unremitting concentration. Without the ability to concentrate, or the self-discipline to attain concentration, all else is to no avail.
IPL 10 this season opened up Pandora’s Box and gave an indication that the standard of umpiring in India is becoming from bad to worse. The problem relating to the poor standard of umpiring is not addressed properly in the past and it is time to pay attention to this vital department of the game. Indian umpires lack exposure and that is revealed at the highest level with silly mistakes, which even club level umpires will not commit. The so called elite panel of umpires are frogs in the well and never exposed to strenuous tests at the domestic level and things are taken for granted at the lowest level. After all, cricket is a gentleman’s game and we need to play it in true sporting spirit. In this regard, the umpires play a pivotal role in conducting the game in a most dignified way.
Dickie Bird, the renowned umpire his book “Not Out” had mentioned that he followed conventional way of umpiring and succeeded at the highest level. He never took out his index finger unless he was very sure about the decision and that was how he handled this thankless job. To err is human but erring always is favouritism. The finer points of the game should be at the finger tips before a person takes up umpiring in good earnest and reveal highest standard from the league level matches. Of late, ex-players, scorers and statisticians are taking up the job of umpiring.
Indian umpires should learn the art of umpiring by reading more books, have group discussions on various aspects of umpiring and should possess highest level of fitness. Eye tests should be made compulsory every year and umpires need to wear specs in case they have the problem with their eyesight. MCA on their part should provide a straight view gallery for umpires to see matches played in India at all levels. The declining standard of umpiring in India is a reason to worry. We get one Venkat or a Ravi once in 10 years and that is a very bad track record. Despite having the benefit of DRS, Indian umpires were faltered to deceive. Erratic umpiring has become a bane of Indian cricket and unless steps are not taken in time to improve the standard from the lower level, the future of Indian umpiring is rather bleak.
There are lot of differences between bad and poor umpiring and Indian umpires failed to cross the standard quality. Young talented umpires should be given a chance skipping seniority. As of now, the Indian umpires are groping in darkness and the IPL matches exposed them openly.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)