Ponting calls for cricket to ditch neutral umpires

Ponting calls for cricket to ditch neutral umpires
Rory Burns hit his first Test century to give England the chance to build a big first-innings lead over Australia. (Reuters)
Updated 03 August 2019

Ponting calls for cricket to ditch neutral umpires

Ponting calls for cricket to ditch neutral umpires

MELBOURNE: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting on Saturday called for cricket to ditch its requirement to have neutral umpires after a number of incorrect decisions in the first Test of the Ashes series in England.

Aleem Dar of Pakistan and West Indian Joel Wilson have drawn criticism after a number of their calls were overturned by the review system during the opening days at Edgbaston.

Ponting, who is part of the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) influential Cricket Committee, said he would ensure the matter is discussed at their next meeting.

“It’s already been spoken about a lot among the players. If it’s not brought up (at that next MCC meeting), I’ll make sure it’s added to the agenda,” he told the Cricket Australia website.

“I would like to think the game has come far enough now for the game to not have neutral umpires.

“People might say that with all the technology we’ve got now, it doesn’t matter that much. But it’s not a good spectacle when pretty obviously wrong decisions are made,” he added.

“There’s been a lot of negativity about the DRS (Decision Review System) over the years, but we’re pretty lucky that we had it (at Edgbaston).”

The International Cricket Council mandated the use of neutral umpires in 2002, meaning English and Australian officials — widely considered among the best in the world — cannot be part of the Ashes series.

Ponting pointed to England’s Richard Kettleborough as a top umpire forced to miss out.

“Surely Richard Kettleborough and the like would want to be umpiring the best series. The best umpires can end up missing out on all the big tournaments,” he said.

“It could force umpires into retirement a bit early as well when someone like (former Australian umpire) Simon Taufel is spending most of his life (overseas), which is a bit harder than spending your time in Australia.”

Former Australia spinner Shane Warne, another member of the MCC Cricket Committee, also criticized the umpiring on day one of the Edgbaston Test, calling it “horrific.”

“England are bowling very well. The umpiring has been horrific from ball 1 & so has the reviews process of the right ones from Australia,” he said on Twitter.

The MCC’s Cricket Committee, guardians of the laws of the game, is an independent body comprising current and former players and umpires who meet twice a year to discuss issues around the sport.