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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 17:47 GMT
Sensible strategy in place
Mike Denness - not included in the elite panel
Mike Denness - not included in the elite panel
BBC Sports News correspondent Gordon Farquhar explains the thinking behind the selection of the ICC's elite five-man match referee panel.

The ICC insist its selection for the new five man referees panel was based on aptitude and ability not political expediency.

But the inclusion of Wasim Raja, Gundappa Viswanath and Ranjan Madugalle will help them in their efforts to prevent world cricket from splitting apart.

There have been all kinds of tough words spoken since the Mike Denness affair threatened a schism within the game, and the role and authority of the match referees has been hotly disputed since.

The previous system of allowing each of the 10 Test playing nations to nominate two match referees seemed perfectly fair, but has led to controversy of the kind the Governing body doesn't want, and can ill afford.

Having a dedicated full-time panel, whose average age is ten years younger than the previous collective, makes sense too.

Consistency key

These elite five will be extensively trained and will be able to put all their efforts into getting things right - or at least getting things more consistent.

They'll work closely with the elite panel of eight full time umpires, to be announced next week, and will have a new disciplinary code with its much clearer list of sanctions as their main weapon.

The ICC wants them to become ambassadors at every Test match, with the full authority to make decisions and enforce the rules.

They hope they will command respect, and become the guardians of the game. At least for the time being, the doubters will have to give them a chance to make it work.

See also:

01 Mar 02 |  Cricket
ICC names all-star referees
01 Mar 02 |  Cricket
ICC match referees profiles
30 Jan 02 |  Cricket
ICC ignores India's panel snub
12 Jan 02 |  Cricket
Imran: no need for referees
28 Dec 01 |  Cricket
ICC seeks top umpires
14 Nov 01 |  Cricket
Madugalle to head referees panel
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