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    December 28, 2006

    In the interests of neutrality

    News just in from Durban is that umpire Mark Benson has taken ill and third umpire Ian Howell will replace him until Benson is well.
    Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher have a chat with umpire Benson standing at square-leg. Now Smith walks across with Benson towards umpire Asad Rauf. Hold on.. Benson is not feeling well .Smith now goes back to his players and Asad Rauf escorts Benson to the boundary line. Benson looks pretty ill. Wonder what happened and wonder how Smith got to know about it. Both the umpires have walked off the field.

    We have a replacement. Ian Howell replaces Mark Benson. We shall keep you updated as soon as we get to know about the nature of Benson's illness and his progress.
    The only problem I have with this is that, without casting any aspersions on Ian Howell's competence, this would negate the concept of neutral umpires in the test match. Instead, given that the square-leg umpire's role is pretty minimal (given that he can always turn to the third umpire for help), the replacement umpire must only stand at square-leg.

    In fact, I've suggested a rotation plan for all four umpires in a game nearly three years ago. This of course is assuming that all four umpires are suitably qualified, and the ICC does away with the 'neutral umpires' policy. Here's what I wrote-up. Effectively, all the 15 (max.) sessions are umpired such that no umpire does any more than 3 consecutive sessions and only umpires a maximum of 8 sessions in the test. It'd be trivial to adopt this, with some modifications, for one-dayers too. Martin Crowe put forward a similar idea during his Cowdrey 'Spirit of Cricket' lecture at Lord's in July.

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    Thus spake Jagadish @ 1:28 PM |
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