Ponting asks ICC to overhaul umpiring panel

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Sydney, Jan 11 (UNI) After the umpiring fiasco in the second Test at SCG, skipper Ricky Pointing has given a clarion call to the game's governing body to overhaul the controversial international umpiring panel.

Ponting wants the International Cricket Council (ICC), to enlarge its 10-member Test umpiring panel amid fears that some umpires are making errors because of exhaustion.

Benson and his colleague, Jamaica's Steve Bucknor, were heavily criticised for a series of errors in the second Test, which saw the visitors lose from a position of strength.

''I've been talking to the ICC for some time about getting more umpires on the elite panel,'' Ponting was quoted as saying by the Herald Sun.

''We talk a lot as players about how much we're playing. But the same applies to umpires. The umpires could be in Pakistan last week doing a Test match and they'll be in Perth next week doing us, with only a couple of days in between.

''As a player you never know you're tired until you get away and have a week off.'' ''That's when you realise just how tired you were. I'm sure after four months he (Benson) thought he was as good as gold, but he wouldn't know how tired he was until he gets a break.

''Players notice even when they are five per cent off. It can be the difference between playing and nicking a shot, or hitting it cleanly. I'm sure it is the same for these guys.'' The ICC has dropped Bucknor for the rest of the series as part of a deal to stop India abandoning the the tour.

Benson and Bucknor were heavily criticised after a number decisions in Sydney changed the shape and the outcome of the series.

India's team manager Chetan Chauhan labelled Benson and Bucknor's efforts as ''incompetent'', saying the Indians wanted nothing to do with the pair for the rest of the four-Test series.

''The umpiring was flawed,'' Chauhan said. ''They (the team) are upset, a lot of decisions have gone against us, a few went against the Australians, as well, but it really affected us.

''If we had got 50 per cent of the decisions the result would have been different.

''We are not saying this because we have lost the game. It was for everybody to see,'' he said.

It is estimated that up to 10 controversial decisions turned the game into a battle field with charges of racism being handed out to spinner Harbhajan Singh, along with a three-match ban.

The most blatant error occurred when Bucknor ruled Andrew Symonds not out after a strong Indian appeal for caught behind when the Australian all-rounder was on 30. Symonds went on to make an unbeaten first innings score of 162 to change the course of the match.

Benson was always going to be relieved for the Perth Test, with his place taken by Pakistan's Asad Rauf.

Bucknor's dumping paved the way for New Zealand's Billy Bowden to stand in the third Test, starting on Wednesday.

The ICC is due to review its panel of elite umpires in April.

UNI XC TB AM AS2247

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