Simon Taufel emphasises on umpire succession planning at Colin Cowdrey lecture

Simon Taufel also expressed that DRS is here to stay but the focus should be on using it in the best possible way © Getty Images

London: Jul 25, 2013

Former umpire Simon Taufel has called for more countries to produce leading officials in a bid to boost “succession planning” while admitting technology poses a “double edge” for decision-makers.

The Australian, who retired from umpiring after the World Twenty20 in October, was speaking on Wednesday while delivering the 13th MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture at Lord’s, said the ongoing Ashes series between England and Australia “highlights one significant challenge — that of succession planning”.

England and Australia between them provide eight members of the International Cricket Council’s 12-strong panel of elite umpires.

That means only four men — Pakistan’s Aleem Dar, Sri Lanka’s Kumar Dharmasena, South Africa’s Marais Erasmus and New Zealand’s Tony Hill — are currently eligible to officiate in the Ashes, with the current five-match series set to be followed by another five Tests in Australia starting later this year.

“The neutrality guidelines mean that eight of the 12 Elite Panel umpires are not eligible to officiate [in the Ashes]. We have a real need to encourage and support the other Test playing countries to invest more resources in this area. This representation trend by two countries needs more competition from the others,” said Taufel, now the ICC’s umpire training and performance manager.

“Umpiring is everyone’s business, everyone seems to have an opinion on it but we need to alter the mindset and have all the countries investing more in the future of match officiating,” he added.

England lead the Ashes 2-0 but both the first two Tests have featured controversial incidents regarding the use of the Decision Review System (DRS).

While the likes of former Australia captain Ian Chappell have said DRS should be solely in the hands of the umpires, with player reviews a thing of the past, Taufel was coy over whether any changes should be made.

“The technology genie has been let out of the bottle and it’s not going to go back in. I would simply advocate that we look at ways to be as pragmatic as possible so we can get more correct decisions and deliver more justice,” said Taufel.

“I do have an important message on this topic though as it is often asked, ‘what is your view on the DRS?’ I’m not sure that this is the right question. Perhaps we should be asking ‘are we using technology in the best way to serve the players, supporters, umpires and values of our game?’

“No matter what system of technology review/referral we implement in our game, it will not be perfect or 100 percent. There are trade-offs and compromises with every system adopted. Today, everyone umpires the game by watching television. The invasive nature of this broadcasting has a double edge to it — it does put more pressure on players and umpires,” said in his lecture.

“Not too much now happens on a cricket field that is not captured by a camera, a microphone or piece of technology. This has the ability to bring out the best in the game and also the worst,” said Taufel.