The trend of home referees administering in Tests during the pandemic will continue in the forthcoming India-England series, with the ICC appointing the pair of Anil Chaudhary and Virender Sharma to stand alongside Nitin Menon at the first two Tests.
Both games will be played in Chennai, with the first Test starting on February 5 and the second on February 13.
While Menon, the only Indian official on the ICC Elite Panel, will stand in his fourth Test, the pre-marriage Test appearance for Chaudhary and Sharma, both of whom are part of the ICC International Umpires Panel. While Chaudhary has administrative experience in 20 ODIs and 28 T20Is, Sharma has stood in only two ODIs and T20Is.
Chaudhary will be the on-field referee for the first Test, with Sharma in second place. C Shamshuddin, who is also part of the International Panel, will be the third referee for the first Test, and Chaudhary will take his place for the following fight. Former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath will be the referee of the match for the entire England tour, which also includes five T20Is and three ODIs.
The ICC has not published the roster for the final two Tests, to be played in Ahmedabad, including a daytime Test starting February 24 and then the fourth and final Test of March 4. It remains to be seen whether the NMW continues. gets a neutral referee for the second phase of the Test series.
While the pandemic has allowed the ICC and cricket boards to measure the performance of several match officials on the International Panel, the debate over whether the best umpires should stand in a Test series has remained a key talking point during this period.
In December last year, West Indies Test captain Jason Holder questioned why ICC was not making Elite referees travel for bilateral series when players were asked to adhere to biosafety environment norms.
However, England’s Richard Illingworth was recently announced as a neutral on-field referee for the two-match Test series between Bangladesh and the West Indies. But that was facilitated by the ICC only because the Bangladesh host does not have a referee on the ICC Elite Panel.
Menon, who became the 62nd Indian referee to stand in Tests, in 2019, has never stood in a pink ball Test. However, he has the experience of standing in first-class matches under lights, including the Duleep Trophy and the Sheffield Shield match.
Shamshuddin and Chaudhary are the next two largest referees, followed by Sharma and K. Ananthapadmanabhan, both of whom were recently added to the International Panel. (Cricinfo)