BCCI asks ICC Cricket Committee to re-open discussion on soft signals
Non-neutral umpires will continue to officiate in international cricket, with the ICC deciding to extend the Covid-19 regulations it put in place last year till July 2021. That is one of the key recommendations of the ICC Cricket Committee, which has been approved by the global body’s chief executives’ committee (CEC) and is set to be ratified by the ICC Board when it convenes virtually later this week on March 31 and April 1.
The ICC Cricket Committee, which is chaired by the former India captain Anil Kumble, had met earlier in March and approved a hybrid model of match officials where feasible; that would allow for one neutral umpire and three home umpires in a bilateral series. But this model would be restricted to countries where the neutral officials can travel without having to quarantine.
The CEC, which met virtually last week, approved the recommendation and has sent it to the ICC Board to get a final approval. As it stands, the World Test Championship final – scheduled from June 18 from 22 in Southampton between India and New Zealand – would be officiated by a team of neutral match officials, all English. Chris Broad is likely to be the match referee, with Richard Kettleborough, Michael Gough and Richard Illingworth – the three English umpires on the 12-man elite panel – to form the umpires’ line-up for the match.
Last June, the ICC took on board the recommendation of the committee on having home umpires officiate in bilateral series mainly due to the logistical challenges of travelling during the pandemic. It was the first time non-neutral umpires have officiated in bilateral Test cricket since the ICC introduced the concept of neutral umpires in 2002.
Since then, the only exception was Illingworth standing in the two-Test series recently between Bangladesh and West Indies, which was only because Bangladesh does not have any umpires on the elite panel.
To remove any perception of bias, the Cricket Committee had agreed to allow teams an extra review across all three formats as an interim measure during the pandemic.
That move, the committee discussed this month, had worked satisfactorily, and allowed the ICC to widen its pool of home umpires who were getting exposure standing in international cricket. This February, the MCC World Cricket Committee, too, suggested that “a balance could be struck” by pairing one home and one neutral umpire as the on-field officials to provide exposure to neutral umpires as well to standing outside their home country.
BCCI wants Cricket Committee to discuss soft signal
During its meeting, the committee is understood to have also discussed the soft signal, in the spotlight during the India-England T20Is, though a number of members including Kumble favoured sticking to the protocols around it as they stand.
The soft signal came into focus, anew, when Suryakumar Yadav was ruled out after being caught in the outfield by Dawid Malan; the TV umpire said he did not have conclusive evidence to go against the on-field soft signal of out. According to the playing conditions, the third umpire does have the authority to overturn the on-field umpire’s decision but in this case it was upheld.
India captain Virat Kohli had suggested the soft signal should have an added option of “not sure” in such close decisions where the evidence to the naked eye is not conclusive. It is believed that, this week, that suggestion was made by BCCI secretary Jay Shah to the CEC too.
Most members on the committee, however, strongly supported the on-field match officials having a decisive say and not relying entirely on technology, which might not always provide definitive evidence. This is also one of the reasons the committee decided to retain the umpire’s call, which Kohli had called “confusing”. However, they decided that the concept of umpire’s call needed to be simplified in order for all stakeholders – including players – to have a better understanding. The CEC has agreed to the committee’s suggestions on the umpire’s call and sent it to the board for approval.
Saliva ban and other Covid-19 regulations to continue
The extension of the interim Covid-19 regulations means the ban on use of saliva to shine the ball as well as the allowance of like-for-like substitutes in Test cricket, in case a player tested positive for Covid-19, would also remain in place.
Those recommendations were made by the ICC’s medical committee, which once again recommended that those regulations should stay. The ICC said that only sweat would be used by teams to shine the ball. In case saliva was inadvertently applied, the on-field match officials would, after a period of “leniency” and having given at least two warnings, penalise the bowling team with five runs.
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo
Men’s Hundred – Alex Hales brings Trent Rockets back from the dead to seal two-wicket heist | Cricket
Trent Rockets 134 for 8 (Hales 40*) beat Northern Superchargers 132 (Simpson 42, Brook 38, de Lange 3-22, Rashid Khan 3-31) by two wickets
Alex Hales sparked into life in the absolute nick of time, to swipe an extraordinary victory from the jaws of a thumping defeat – and he was gifted the opportunity by a game-turning blunder from his former England team-mate Ben Stokes, as Trent Rockets sealed an incredible two-wicket victory on a pulsating night at Trent Bridge.
Chasing a sub-par target of 133, Trent Rockets’ chase had been rocked by back-to-back ducks for Dawid Malan and Joe Root, each of them extracted by their Yorkshire and England team-mate Adil Rashid in a sensational start to his spell, and after slumping to 58 for 6 after 58 balls of their chase, their prospects of a revival at once stage dipped as low as 2 percent, according to the tournament’s Win Predictor.
Rashid Khan began their revival with a typically walloping innings of 25 from 12, but once his cameo fizzled out, Rockets’ hopes rested entirely on their sleeping giant Hales, who had seemed unable to raise his game while the wickets were tumbling around him. Between balls 49 and 73, he faced a mere four deliveries, and had limped along to 16 from 25 until a moment from Stokes that evoked memories of his own game-turning strokes of fortune in the World Cup final two years ago.
From his 26th delivery, bowled by Rashid, Hales worked a single to mid-off to give up the strike, only for the delivery to be called dead ball due to an intruder on the field. After a lengthy period of remonstration, the ball was served up again, and Hales climbed into a full-blooded drive down the ground to long-off … where Stokes, right back on the rope and perhaps still mindful of his still-problematic broken finger, spilled the chance clean over the rope for six.
One ball later, Hales carved Rashid through point to ignite his innings in a more conventional fashion, and though Luke Wood was prised out by Mujeeb Ur Rahman three balls later, the mood among a 11,483-strong crowd had transformed. Matt Carter, a late inclusion after a Covid outbreak caused Steven Mullaney to miss the match due to self-isolation, backed up a fine bowling display with vital boundary-finding levers, before Hales sealed the chase in a riot of strokeplay, including a vast winning six, high into the stands at square leg.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
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BCB wants Ashwell Prince to stay on as batting consultant until T20 World Cup
He was initially appointed only for the Zimbabwe tour, and is due to return to coaching the Cape Cobras
“We had appointed him for the Zimbabwe series initially,” Khan said. “Since it will be hard to get a coach before the T20 World Cup, we took a bit of feedback and it has been generally positive. I think some of our batsmen did really well in Zimbabwe. Some of the players told us that they have confidence in him. They are satisfied with his work.
“So we plan to go ahead with him. We can confirm that he is with us till the T20 World Cup. We will take on a decision on his further involvement (after the World Cup) over the course of the next week.”
ESPNcricinfo has learned, however, that negotiations between the BCB and Prince are still ongoing, contrary to Khan’s statement.
GMT 1645 The story was amended when ESPNcricinfo learned that Prince was yet to accept the BCB’s offer.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
Recent Match Report – West Indies vs Australia 3rd ODI 2021
Shimron Hetymer returns for the home side in place of Jason Mohammed
West Indies won the toss and decided to bat against Australia
Dan Christian will play his first ODI in more than seven years – and his first List A game in four – as one of three changes for Australia in the deciding match against West Indies
Christian comes in for the injured Ben McDermott who hurt his ankle colliding with a boundary board during the second match. Moises Henriques is slated to open the batting alongside Josh Philippe.
Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, who has recovered from a hamstring injury, is also recalled to bolster the spin attack while Josh Hazlewood returns. Riley Meredith and Wes Agar miss out.
West Indies, who opted to bat first on a used surface, have made one change with Shimron Hetmyer replacing Jason Mohammed. They have not beaten Australia in a bilateral ODI series since 1995.
West Indies 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Shai Hope (wk), 3 Shimron Hetmyer, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Nicholas Pooran, 6 Kieron Pollard (capt), 7 Jason Holder, 8 Alzarri Joseph, 9 Hayden Walsh Jr, 10 Akeal Hosein, 11 Sheldon Cottrell
Australia 1 Moises Henriques, 2 Josh Philippe, 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Alex Carey (capt & wk), 5 Matthew Wade, 6 Ashton Turner, 7 Dan Christian, 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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