Umpires Vrinda Rathi (L) and Janani Narayanan. © ICC

Denis Burns, the veteran ICC international umpire coach, feels the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has done the right thing by investing in umpires and the standard of umpiring has definitely gone higher in India. He said that the inclusion of Janani Narayanan and Vrinda Rathi to the ICC Development Panel has come at the right time, which will pave way for more young and talented umpires in the country.

“I think Janani and Vrinda represent the new wave of female umpires in India,” Burns told bcci.tv.

“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.”

Burns has spent a considerable amount of time in India educating the umpires and he has seen good progress being made by those from India. He has 20 years of umpiring experience under his belt while doing the job in England. He also had a career as a university lecturer in psychology and education. Burns took up the responsibility of educating umpires in 1997 after shifting to Melbourne and worked for Cricket Australia’s umpire educator and first class referee. The veteran umpire feels the BCCI has done the right thing by investing in umpiring programs and feels it becoming full-time profession is a good sign.

“By investing in umpiring the BCCI have raised the status and recognition of umpiring in India,” he said.

“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.”

ALSO READ: India’s Janani Narayanan and Vrinda Rathi latest to find places in ICC panel

With the COVID-19 pandemic bringing all cricket to a stop, Burns is spending his time conducting online discussions, video simulations with a large group of Indian umpires.

“Our international umpires send answers to our coaches’ quiz every week and this is followed up with a group Skype session based on the quiz,” he stated.

“Vrinda and Janani join the group each week and we invite a member of the Emirates Elite Panel to join us. Both Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong have joined us so far. We go beyond the quiz questions and discuss the wider issues of managing the game and working with players and captains. Janani and Vrinda take a full part in discussions and they always come with probing questions to share with the group.”

The Decision Review System (DRS) may seem easy to the naked eye, but it has a complex nature of involving the third umpire, the television director and the other combinations of all the possible different camera angles in making the final call, which is quite a task in itself. Burns is keen to break the DRS in parts and is trying to simplify its process to the upcoming umpires.

“Every week we conduct a one-to-one third umpire simulation session and the progress of Janani and Vrinda has been excellent,” he explained. “We began with the expectations of the ICC’s accepted protocols of communication with TV directors and we are now exploring the technologies used in the DRS system. This also includes the need to develop relationships with the TV director and his crew.”

Claire Polosak is the first female umpire to officiate a men's game. ©Cricket Australia

Claire Polosak is the first female umpire to officiate a men’s game. ©Cricket Australia

“In these simulation sessions, the coach plays the part of the director and the umpire carries out a series of reviews using footage from a wide range of scenarios. The demanding environment of an Outside Broadcast Unit needs to be understood and fully appreciated if umpires are to work in an effective partnership with our media colleagues.”

Janani feels this particular exercise was very beneficial for her in understanding the role played by the third umpire.

“Our sessions last for an hour. I am not used to third umpiring and it’s something new that I am learning,” she said.

“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.”

Vrinda added that the video simulation process will help her improve decision-making abilities.

“Denis has so many different videos of different dismissals,” she added.

“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.”

Burns said the two umpires are heading in the right direction and are putting the required amount of hard work. He has been impressed by their determination and progress.