ICC to re-introduce neutral umpires soon: official

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Photo: REUTERS/Nikhil Monteiro/Files

Dhaka: The International Cricket Council will soon re-introduce neutral umpires despite the Covid-19 pandemic providing an opportunity to give home umpires more exposure, chairman Greg Barclay said on Monday.

"There were some benefits (of Covid) for cricket," Barclay told reporters in Dhaka.

"One of them was the chance to use umpires at home. It has given home umpires some exposure to international cricket.

"I think that's good. It spread the base a little bit wider. But, we are at the other side of Covid. So we are reintroducing neutral umpire arrangement... You will see neutral umpires back up and running again," he said.

Umpires from host countries have been used exclusively since 2020 when the pandemic imposed worldwide travel restrictions.

The arrangement came under sharp criticism during Bangladesh's recent tour of South Africa when the visitors raised allegations of bias against two local umpires in the Test series.

South African umpires Marais Erasmus and Adrian Holdstock stood in the series, where Bangladesh had been on the wrong end of several close calls.

Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who did not play the series, was among a chorus of Bangladeshi social media users criticising the umpires.

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) said it would file formal complaints to ICC match referee manager over claims of biased umpiring and "unbearable" sledging.

Bangladesh partially restored neutral umpiring in the country's ongoing series against Sri Lanka when it appointed England's Richard Kettleborough and West Indies' Joel Wilson alongside local umpire Sharfuddoula.

ICC chairman Barclay added that the body had no plan to make it compulsory for Twenty20 franchises to release players for national duty like other sports, especially football.

Football clubs are obliged to release players to a national representative team if they are called up.

Bangladesh were unable to call up pace bowler Mustafizur Rahman for the ongoing Test against Sri Lanka despite injuries to two key frontline seamers Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam.

Mustafizur, who was playing Indian Premier League for Delhi Capitals, has been included in the Bangladesh Test side for next month's tour of the West Indies.

"T20 competitions are domestic competitions. Movement of players is an issue for the members, not an ICC issue," Barclay said.

"We don't have an arrangement with the players. I would just leave that for the member boards to answer," he added.

"The Future Tours Programme is being put together at the moment. I am hopeful we will be able to accommodate everything necessary." AFP

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