Fourth official in focus

Sports

The television sting aired on Tuesday that exposed cricket umpires agreeing to give favourable results in lieu of fee has also trained the spotlight on the reserve umpire or the fourth umpire. Rarely seen under normal match circumstances, the reserve umpire is part of the inner circle of officials and is therefore privy to vital match information.

The reserve umpire, like the match referee, on-field umpires and the third umpire, has access to information including that regarding the nature of pitch, playing XI and weather conditions prevailing.

This pre-match information that helps betting syndicates fix odds is what two Sri Lankan umpires - Sagara Gallage and Maurice Winston - were purportedly relaying to undercover reporters during the sting operation aired on Monday.

When the International Cricket Council conducts their 'urgent investigation' after studying the tapes aired by India TV, they will need to take a call on further checks and balances with regard to reserve umpires, who are picked by the home boards from their national panel, and over whose selection the ICC has no direct control.

Boards' prerogatives

Chairman of the Indian cricket board's sub-committee Niranjan Shah said that the BCCI does appoint umpires from its national panel as fourth umpires. "It is up to the boards to decide to appoint someone from the national panel as the reserve or the third umpire," Shah said.

Only in games in which the Decision Review System is used does the reserve umpire need to be picked from the International Panel.

"Fourth umpires, except when there is DRS, can be chosen by the home board from their top domestic panel. Fourth umpires at DRS matches need to be International umpires," ICC's head of media and communications Colin Gibson told The Indian Express.

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