In the upcoming India-England series, the pattern of home umpires officing in Tests during the pandemic will continue, with the ICC appointing the pair of Anil Chaudhary and Virender Sharma in the first two Tests to stand alongside Nitin Menon. In Chennai, both matches will be played, with the first test beginning on 5 February and the second starting on 13 February.
Though Menon, the only Indian official on the ICC’s Elite Team, will be in his fourth test, both Chaudhary and Sharma, both of whom are part of the ICC’s International Umpire Panel, will be in the maiden test. While Chaudhary has experience in 20 ODIs and 28 T20Is, Sharma has stood in only two ODIs and a solitary T20I.
For the first Test, Chaudhary will be the on-field umpire, with Sharma replacing him in the second. The third arbitrator for the first test will be C Shamshuddin, also part of the International Jury, and will be replaced by Chaudhary for the following match. The match referee for England’s entire tour, which also includes five T20Is and three ODIs, will be former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath.
The roster for the final two tests to be played in Ahmedabad, including a day-night test starting on February 24, followed by a fourth and final test starting on March 4, has not been confirmed by the ICC yet. If the ICC will get a neutral umpire for the second leg of the Test series remains to be seen.
Although the pandemic allowed the ICC and cricket boards to assess the performance of many International Panel match officials, during this time, the debate on whether the best umpires should stand in a test series remained a key point of discussion. Last December, West Indies Test captain Jason Holder questioned why when players were asked to conform to bio-secure environmental standards, the ICC was not allowing Elite umpires fly for bilateral series.
For the two-match Test series between Bangladesh and West Indies, however, England’s Richard Illingworth was recently named as a neutral on-field umpire.
But it was only facilitated by the ICC because Bangladesh’s hosts do not have an umpire on the ICC’s Elite Team.
In a pink-ball test, Menon, who became the 62nd Indian umpire to stand in Tests in 2019, never stood. He has the experience, however, of standing under lights in first-class matches, including the Duleep Trophy and a Sheffield Shield game. The next two senior umpires are Shamshuddin and Chaudhary, followed by Sharma and K Ananthapadmanabhan, both of whom were recently appointed to the International Panel.