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Short season ‘stunting’ umpires

EZRA STUART in Dominica

Short season ‘stunting’ umpires

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A SENIOR West Indies umpire has raised his finger on the short,  scaled-down regional first-class  cricket season.
International Cricket Council (ICC) panel umpire Billy Doctrove  says that the limited amount of cricket which is played at that level in the Caribbean is stifling the progress  of West Indian umpires.
“Our short domestic season is  a setback, not only for players but for umpires because our domestic season is about three months,” Doctrove said here last weekend in an interview with MIDWEEK SPORT.
This year, teams only played six regional first-class matches as the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) opted  for a one-round tournament instead of the home-and-away format, spread over two rounds, which was played in 2009.
“We don’t play enough cricket in the West Indies, so that is affecting players as well as umpires because umpires in the region, only do about two or three games for the season and that’s not sufficient to prepare you for the international arena.
“If we can play more cricket, similarly, the players and umpires can benefit from that,” suggested the 54-year-old Doctrove, who has umpired in 29 Tests and 91 One-Day Internationals.
Doctrove, who was promoted  to the ICC International panel in 2006, also wants to see a change in direction  of the West Indies Cricket Umpires Association whereby younger officials are fast-tracked at the regional level.
“I believe that we have some umpires who can get on the Elite panel but  I believe that the whole policy that we have now in relation to umpiring, we need to revisit it,” he said.
“If you look at the ICC, what they doing now is looking at younger umpires. I think that is where we ourselves have to go through if we have to look at the long-term benefits of umpiring in the West Indies,” he pointed out.
“I think we need to try and possibly identify some younger umpires and  push them.”
Doctrove, who came under the microscope during the recent  World Twenty20 final for a decision which he gave against Australian wicketkeeper/batsman Brad Haddin, said it was “tough” having to make  a decision on the spot, only to be  criticised by people who watched television replays three and four times.
“The technology sometimes can be our best friend if it shows you got it right, but sometimes it can be our worst enemy if you get it wrong,” he said.
But, he acknowledges that technology is now “part and parcel of the game and umpiring” and advises umpires to just do their best at all times.
“I don’t think technology will ever  go away, so we just have to acknowledge  the fact that it is here to stay,”  Doctrove said.
“We have to try and ignore the fact that there is technology and we are  on television, that people will look at it.  We just have to try and umpire  to the best of our ability as we normally do,” he advised.