MCC ignores Punter’s plea for neutral umpires
The Marylebone Cricket Club insist neutral Test umpiring is still the best way forward for cricket despite calls to the contrary from former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.
Ponting, who sits on the MCC rules panel, said after the opening Ashes Test was dominated by a number of woeful decisions, the use of DRS should see the best umpires officiate in the biggest series regardless of their nationality.
Last week's Test at Edgbaston saw rookie West Indian umpire Joel Wilson and Pakistan's Aleem Dar have 10 decisions between them overturned by DRS.
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Wilson, in only his 13th Test, equalled the record for reversals when eight out his decisions were successfully appealed by the players.
However, after a meeting at Lord's on Monday between MCC chairman Mike Gatting, assistant secretary John Stephenson and panel members Shane Warne and Kumar Sangakkara, it was agreed that increasing the numbers of elite level umpires across the world was the best way forward.
Seven of the 12 elite level panel are from Australia and England meaning they ineligible to stand in the Ashes and Stephenson believes that lopsided membership needs to be addressed.
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"It was obviously a bit of a focus after the last match," said Stephenson. "Ricky Ponting mentioned the prospect of bringing back non-neutral umpires and it is something being discussed by the ICC Cricket Committee as well. "But the feeling is neutrality still works.
"Unfortunately there is quite an imbalance with ICC elite-level umpiring panel where you have certain umpires adjudicating in certain series.
"But we think it's time for the base to be broadened and to train up more umpires to get to the elite levels.
"Overall we think neutrality does work. But with DRS and technology maybe it's something we need look at in the future.
"In one-day cricket we have one non-neutral umpire standing and in Twenty20 we have it as well. Maybe further down the line it can be a thing."