BCCI
An aspiring umpire has claimed that exams in 2018 were rigged (IANS Photo)

The standard of umpiring in the ongoing Indian Premier League has left a lot to be desired, be it S Ravi’s failure to spot a no-ball or Anil Chaudhary adjudicating Colin Ingram leg before when the ball was pitching outside leg stump. The spotlight is back on the process followed in the recruitment of umpires in Indian cricket.

And now, an aspiring umpire has written to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), asking the board office bearers as well as the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) to take a re-look into the umpiring exams conducted in the country.

Speaking to IANS, a senior BCCI official said that it was indeed a worrisome factor and one that needed to be immediately looked into by the Indian board. The official added that exams need to be conducted with utmost professionalism and the points brought up by the mailer can’t be ignored.

“This is a serious concern which is being raised by all parties, but specifically with regards to the manner in which selection of umpires is being done. Serious questions being raised again and again is not healthy. Of late every issue under the sun is being looked at through the prism of conflict of interest. But it surprises me that despite the repeated warnings there has been no communication or intimation about the steps being taken to deal with it with regard to the umpires’ examinations.

“If what is being claimed is true – person setting the paper is also running an academy to train individuals – then you are opening the BCCI to serious ridicule and severely compromising the quality of individuals who can be groomed to be international umpires. People with talent are in that case facing the highest degree of unfairness if an undeserving candidate already knows the content of the question paper,” the official said.

Another BCCI official echoed the sentiments and said the lack of an umpires committee had given rise to these issues which have been ignored by those running the show.

“The CoA which had a strength of two at that point in time decided to do away with the umpires committee. They further gave indication of their tunnel vision by failing to interact with the office bearers to convene a Special General Meeting to have an umpires’ committee constituted as per the new BCCI constitution. That committee could have worked till the Annual General Meeting takes place and could have taken care of such issues with ease.

“As a result, there is no transparency regarding these decisions relating to umpires as there is absolutely no information in this regard and all you hear is sudden plans of induction. At whose door does the buck stop is the million rupee question. Is it GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim or CEO Rahul Johri or the CoA? As per the order of the Supreme Court, the CoA was put in place to supervise the administration of cricket and supervision is a different role than the actual administration, and this is where the BCCI is suffering.” he rued.

“No one in the higher management has an experience of more than about 2 years in cricket administration and for an organisation of the role and scale of the BCCI, it is nothing short of disastrous.”

In the letter, accessed by IANS, the aspiring umpire said that utmost care should be taken to ensure that every step was well documented so that there was no chance of any dubious practice.

“You all are highly educated professionals, yet out of sheer concern and wish for the betterment of umpiring, I wish to provide a few points. Please provide xerox copies of answer sheets after result declaration along with model answers. Please have answer sheets protected by hologram and barcode. We are ready to pay fees for the xerox copies and for the hologram, barcode. Please have separate people setting the paper, separate people as educators and separate people as examiners.

“Please have video coverage of things taught in class, during the exam and during paper checking. Also, have screening of people meeting the exam aspirants at the hotels,” the mail read.

This isn’t the first time that questions have been raised on the conduct of umpiring exams in India. In July 2018, an aspiring umpire questioned the process of selecting umpires for domestic duty in the country.

Writing to the CoA and the BCCI office-bearers, the aspiring umpire claimed that the exams conducted in June 2018 were rigged. He alleged that this had happened in 2017 as well and claimed to have complete information on the “racket”.

“Sir, umpiring exam questions and answers are known to candidates beforehand. Happened for June 2018 exam. Had happened in 2017 exam. Please give appointment. I can tell names of people involved and people benefiting or have criminal investigation done by police or CBI. I will be first to tell names of people involved…

“Candidates also know answers beforehand. For them, the preparation before exam is by-hearting answers of 30 to 35 questions which will come in the exam. Lots of malicious activities going on. Please step in soon, else this racket will destroy umpiring,” he said in the mail.