It was in June last year that Nitin Menon was included in the ICC’s Elite Panel of Umpires , and in eight months’ time, the Indian official has managed to capture the imagination of cricket pundits with the discipline he showed in the recently-concluded four-match Test series between India and England.
The 37-year-old officiated in all four Tests between India and England and was seen at the top of his game, giving top-class decisions on challenging wickets. Rarely was a decision of his overturned by the third umpire and he was so impressive that even cricketing greats like Sunil Gavaskar took note of his performance.
In an interaction with ANI , Menon spoke about how challenging the series was for him as an umpire and how he wants to see more Indian umpires being named in ICC’s Elite Panel. He also threw light on how technology is not 100 per cent accurate which is why the ‘Umpire’s Call’ needs to be stuck with.
“Well, obviously, you feel happy when your performances get noticed. But, we do not get carried away because there are a lot of matches left. Honestly, yes, not only me, but Anil Chaudhary and Virender Sharma also did a very good job. So, everyone is feeling very happy and proud,” said Menon, who is the youngest umpire on ICC’s Elite Panel.
“See, all this scrutiny of Indian umpires is done by people who do not understand the game of cricket. We know our job and abilities. We generally do not bother about this criticism when we are on the field of play. We really do not think about all these things, we just try to give our best. We know honestly that we are as good as other umpires in the world, so we do not really bother about the criticism of the Indian umpires,” he added.
What is umpire's call in DRS, ball tracking and why it is being criticised
When asked how tough it can be for umpires when there are players constantly trying to put pressure on them, Menon said: “See, the thing is if we keep doing our job honestly and in a Test match, the players see us doing our job and when they are confident of our ability, when they see our decision-making, automatically they start respecting our decisions.
“Obviously there will be some moments which will take place in the heat of the moment because it is a high-stake game. There is nothing personal between anyone, as I said, when players start knowing and understanding the umpires better, they start developing respect and mutual understanding. There is nothing like pressure from individual players because, at the end of the day, we are there to give our best and whatever the game expects of us, we generally do that,” he added.
‘Umpire's Call’ has been a huge debating point in the cricket world since the onset of the Decision Review System (DRS) and many former players have urged the ICC to do away with this. However, Menon highlighted why this needs to be stuck with. “See, first of all, Umpire’s Call means regarding decisions which are very close, the decisions which are 50-50 which can go either way, goes with the call of the on-field umpire. It is not a completely perfect decision that has been overturned, so it is a 50-50 decision which can go either way, to the batting side or the fielding side. When we know that technology is not itself 100 percent correct, so that is when you need the Umpire’s Call,” said Menon.
“When we know technology is not 100 percent correct, so whatever the on-field decision is given, since it is a very marginal call, so we will stick with the decision the on-field umpire has given. This concept needs to be understood by the general public because they are not aware of why Umpire’s Call concept is there in DRS. It is basically because it was a marginal call and 100 per cent technology cannot say whether it was hitting the stumps or not,” he added.
Lastly, speaking about how more and more people can take up umpiring in India, Menon said: “There are a lot of very good umpires in India who are officiating in the first-class level. They need to consistently perform, there will be ups and downs but they should trust their own abilities and sometimes there will be a case where they are not selected to the next level, but they should not be disappointed and they should do their job day in and day out. If they keep doing their job consistently for three-four years, automatically they will get noticed and they will make it to the next level.”