Exclusive: ICC to appoint Ricky Ponting to umpires panel
In a dramatic revelation exclusive to Cricket 24x7, an ICC source who preferred not to be named has announced that the ICC is considering appointing Ricky Ponting, Australia's captain, as an umpire in their panel. An agreement has been struck with Cricket Australia which will allow Ricky Ponting to be the first player to umpire even though he has not retired from the game. Although Ponting has never publicly expressed interest in the role, his comments last January
about umpires being stressed out and the need to expand the panel do offer a hint.
There are apparently multiple reasons for this move by the ICC:
- The ICC umpires panel has taken a hit in the recent past, with the exits of Darrell Hair, Ian Robinson and Peter Parker. In addition, Simon Taufel had spoken about the possibility of quitting and Steve Bucknor didn't have a great start to the year.
- The ICC, and the other cricket boards, are encouraging former players to take up umpiring and Paul Reiffel has moved up the Australian umpiring ranks to now become an ODI umpire. Ricky Ponting is part of the natural progression. His appointment isn't expected to impact his media commitments. As for impacting the captaincy, Cricket Australia sources revealed that it couldn't possibly get worse anyway.
- The ICC is embarking on a cost-cutting measure. So we could potentially see some of the bad umpires replaced over a period of time by players and the individual cricket boards would pay the bills.
- The most important criterion, and the clincher, is that Ponting has already displayed, twice within a year, his ability to be pro-active and one step ahead of the umpires. The ICC has been extremely impressed by Ponting's eagerness & willingness to declare out Sourav Ganguly in early 2008 and Jacques Kallis a couple of days ago, both at Sydney in controversial circumstances, when the on-field umpires, unsure about whether the ball had carried (to Clarke & McDonald respectively), had referred it to the TV umpire who was still taking a look at the replay for the 23rd time from the 7th possible angle.
It is expected that Ponting would first be drafted in to the International Panel and then promoted to the Elite Panel. It is not yet confirmed if Ponting will be allowed to umpire in games that he captains in, but it is likely to be the case if the ICC is really serious about cutting costs.
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