India now has three female match officials on the ICC Panel with umpires Janani Narayanan, Vrinda Rathi getting  inducted recently with GS Lakshmi on the International Panel of Match Referees. Janani, 34, and Vrinda, 31, were inducted into the International Panel of ICC Development Umpires in March this year. Janani hails from Chennai  and Vrinda from Mumbai. They both have officiated in domestic matches in India since 2018.

Congratulating the umpires on the promotions and induction into the ICC Development Panel, Veteran ICC umpire-coach Denis Burns said, “I think Janani and Vrinda represent the ‘new wave’ of female umpires in India. I first worked with them last year when I conducted the induction course for new umpires in Chennai. S Ravi and the BCCI International Panel of Umpires assisted me. I have had the privilege of facilitating courses in India for over 10 years and the enthusiasm, commitment and work ethic of last year’s group was extraordinary,” BCCI.TV reported.

“By investing in umpiring the BCCI have raised the status and recognition of umpiring in India. Umpiring is now a full-time occupation for many young, aspiring officials. This was evident in the induction course. All attendees were highly motivated and eager to develop their knowledge and understanding of the Laws and their skills as potential TV umpires,” Burns further added.

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“It feels great to know that Vrinda and I have been inducted into the ICC’s development panel,” said Janani, who is a fan of the late David Shepherd of England and retired India umpire Srinivas Venkatraghavan.

Janani is not a cricketer but Rathi played with the Mumbai University as a pace bowler.

“This gives me the chance to learn from seniors on the circuit and improve in the years to come. Cricket has become part of my daily routine since the 90s and I look forward to be associated with the sport at a higher level,” she said in an ICC release.

Vrinda was inspired to take up umpiring during the 2013 women’s ODI World Cup in India after watching retired woman umpire Kathy Cross of New Zealand officiate in the tournament. “Having played cricket and also officiated as a scorer, this was a natural progression for me and I am happy at the way things have unfolded,” Vrinda said.

Sessions during lockdown

So what do umpires do when there’s no match to officiate and loads of free time? Making most of the break, Janani and Vrinda have been taking part in online discussions and video simulations with a large group of Indian umpires. Janani said the exercise has helped her understand the role of a third umpire better.

“Our sessions last for an hour. I am not used to third umpiring and it’s something new that I am learning. By practicing this, we will be ready whenever we get televised matches. Though this drill we get accustomed to the order we need to follow and the exact phrases we need to use. We have looked at many different dismissals and Denis’s feedback is highly useful,” she claimed.

Vrinda believes these sessions will help her improve decision-making abilities. “Denis has so many different videos of different dismissals. We have studied the boundary footage, boundary catches, no-ball videos and also the DRS. He has been very patient with me and encourages me to do better every time. It has been a confidence booster and I even take notes and refer to them later even after the session is over,” she expressed.

Once the lockdown is over, we are sure both the inspiring umpires will make the most of the opportunity and could achieve much more.

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Feature Image Credit: BCCI Women/Twitter

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