On Monday, umpires ranked 1 to 4 in Group C were instructed to officiate in Ranji matches next month, while those between 5 to 32 were not assigned any match.
At a time when umpiring standards in domestic cricket have come under intense scrutiny, their arbitrary postings for the Ranji Trophy matches in December have raised a few eyebrows. The BCCI ranks its umpires based on their performances, with the higher-ranked officials getting priority in allotment of domestic matches.
On Monday, umpires ranked 1 to 4 in Group C were instructed to officiate in Ranji matches next month, while those between 5 to 32 were not assigned any match. Surprisingly enough, umpires ranked between 33 and 35 made the cut. Currently, there are 110 umpires spread across Groups A, B, C and D, with Group A being the elite category comprising seniors such as S. Ravi and Anil Chowdhury, who are regulars in the Indian Premier League and international matches.
Taking note of these lopsided appointments, Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) joint secretary Avishek Dalmiya wrote to BCCI Assistant General Manager (Cricket Operations), KVP Rao, questioning the rationale behind this move.
In a strongly-worded letter, which The Indian Express has accessed, Dalmiya wrote: “One fails to understand the above position as it is very disheartening and discouraging for the umpires who are in the Rank 5 to 32 because it is a dream of every umpire to officiate in Ranji Trophy matches. It is more so, since allotments for matches of other tournaments to be played in December this year were also made yesterday (Monday) itself.”
Dalmiya’s biggest grouse is that five umpires from Bengal, who are in Group C, will be deprived of officiating in first-class matches. Going forward, he asked Rao to explore the possibility of tweaking these postings based on the ranking system, which the BCCI has put in place.
We’re just into the second round of this Ranji season, and umpiring howlers have already been one of the major talking points. The ongoing Delhi-Himachal Pradesh game at the Feroz Shah Kotla has already seen four umpiring errors in the first two days itself. The most glaring of them being of Rishi Dhawan’s ‘caught’ dismissal on the final session on Tuesday, when there was clear daylight between bat and ball. What’s even worse is that the two umpires for the match are Navdeep Singh Sidhu and Tapas Sharma, both elite umpires from Group A.