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ICC's policy of neutral umpires questioned

The ICC has drawn flak from former cricketers for considering umpires' nationality over their 'excellence' in big games like WC final.

cricket Updated: May 02, 2007 17:22 IST

The International Cricket Council has drawn flak from former cricketers Darren Lehmann of Australia and England all rounder Derek Pringle for considering umpires' nationality over their "excellence" in big games like World Cup final.

The duo believe the ICC must move beyond parochialism and mistrust that forced the introduction of "neutral" umpires, who were responsible for the farcical finish to last week's World Cup final.

Lehmann, the Australian Cricketers Association President, said the gaffe could have been avoided if Simon Taufel, the ICC's umpire of the year for the past three seasons, had officiated the final between Australia and Sri Lanka.

Taufel was not considered for the final because he is an Australian and the ICC uses neutral umpires in ODIs.

"I have a view that the best umpires should umpire the best games regardless of what country they're from because they'll do the best job," Lehmann said.

"If there are two Sri Lankans who are the best umpires, then so be it; they umpire the final between Australia and Sri Lanka," he was quoted as saying by 'The Australian'.

"The finish was a farce, (with officials) not knowing the laws. Having five officials involved, it's not good enough. Thankfully it didn't affect the game at all. If it affected the result, it would be a big issue," he added.

Pringle said the final mess raises questions over ICC's policy of choosing umpires from its elite panel and Taufel's absence from the final was "nonsense".

"Neutrality should not be an issue when you are pursuing excellence," Pringle wrote in London's 'The Daily Telegraph'.