Indian umpire Nitin Menon, who showed remarkable accuracy in his debut series as an ICC 'Elite Panel' umpire, felt pressure situations brought the best out of him.
The 37-year-old from Indore, who was inducted into the ICC elite panel of umpires in June last year, officiated in all four Tests between India and England besides three of the five T20s and three ODIs.
"The last two months have been great. It gives one great satisfaction when people notice and appreciate your good work. This series was always going to be a very challenging one because of the hype associated with it.
"As for the white-ball series, it was between the two top-ranked teams in the world. Taking all these factors into consideration, I am pleased that we did well as an umpiring team," said Menon.
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Practice makes perfect
Out of the 40 referrals taken against his decisions during the series, only five were upheld. In a normal scenario, Menon wouldn't have officiated in back-to-back games over two months. So, how did he cope up with the pressure match after match?
"I believe umpiring is all about mental toughness. More the pressure, the better is the focus. If we can give our best performances when we are under pressure, that is the true reflection of how strong we are mentally.
"It's not new for me to officiate in back-to-back matches, thanks to the amount of domestic cricket organised in India. On average, we do eight four-day first-class games on the trot in Ranji Trophy, with travel in between from one venue to another.
"Even in the IPL, we do around 14-16 games without a break, so all this experience has really helped me in this series. Like players, umpires also have form. I always feel that when in good form, I should do the maximum number of games without any break," Menon said.
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Due to his consistent performances, Menon has got closer than ever to his dream assignment -- the Ashes -- but for that to happen, the COVID related restrictions have to ease.
"I enjoy it thoroughly (in the middle). If I don't enjoy my job as an umpire, then it will reflect on my performance. Enjoying the game is another way of releasing the pressure. We have the best seat in the house to watch the game.
"And whenever I find time, I make it a point to watch international cricket as it helps me professionally. I have particularly enjoyed watching the Ashes since the time I used to play cricket," said the soft-spoken official.
The bio-secure life has been tough on the players and Menon finds it equally challenging for the match officials.
"It is very challenging. It is tougher on off days because we cannot go out of the hotel. This is where having a good team atmosphere becomes crucial. We are like a family in the bubble. We have to look after each other, make sure our colleagues are in the right frame of mind, help them out, meet as often as possible and spend time together," he said.