As has been a familiar sight over the last few years, an umpire from South Africa will stand in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals and semifinals. Dennis Smith, 42, will officiate with Hyderabad’s C Shamsuddin in the quarterfinal between Mumbai and Maharashtra.
The umpires exchange programme between the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Cricket South Africa and Cricket Australia is beginning to yield results not just for the visiting umpires but also for the Indians. As part of this, Shamsuddin and Anil Chaudhary will be officiating in first-class games abroad next month. While Shamsuddin will travel to South Africa to officiate in a couple of their domestic first-class fixtures, Delhi’s Chaudhary will travel to Australia, Ratnakar Shetty, general manager, game development, BCCI, told dna on Monday.
“Overall, these exchange programes have been helping both the Indian and foreign umpires,” Shetty said. “In their annual review, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has expressed happiness that the exchange programme has been working well. Our current lot of umpires — S Ravi, V Kulkarni besides Shamsuddin and Chaudhary — are gaining good experience by officiating in other countries.”
On his part, Smith told this paper that he was “expecting to learn a lot from officiating in India”.
“This will be the first time I will be umpiring in the sub-continent. Basically, what I want to gain from here is the experience not just from the cricket field but socially too.”
Currently a member of the ICC Elite Panel, fellow South African Marais Erasmus visited India a few seasons ago as part of this programme. “I spoke a lot with Marais about umpiring in these conditions. I have also spoken with the ICC about what to expect here. I am pretty well prepared,” said Smith.
Having played first-class cricket from 1993 to 2000 with Easterns, Smith has been on the umpire’s panel in his country from 2004. Asked about any incident that stood out, Smith, who has also officiated in domestic matches in Australia and New Zealand, said: “I got hit in a club game in the suburbs of Johannesburg at the start of this season. It was not funny at that time. Looking back at it on TV, it was very comical. The ball got deflected and hit me on the knee. First I was down on the floor and then I was off. It was a night game, we played under candles, not lights! It was pretty dark and I was not very happy about.”