ICC appoints Van der Bijl as the Umpires' and Referees' Manager

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Dubai, May 23 (UNI) As part of a major initiative designed to bolster the department and improve the overall standard of officiating at the elite level, the International Cricket Council (ICC) today appointed the former Natal and Middlesex fast bowler Vintcent van der Bijl as the Umpires' and Referees' Manager.

Van der Bijl will work as part of the ICC Cricket Operations Department under ICC General Manager, Cricket David Richardson, and will have overall responsibility for the management and smooth running of the umpires and referees section.

''I am delighted with Vince's appointment. He was a fine player who later became a successful businessman. More recently he has been working with Cricket South Africa helping to develop the next generation of players. He is hugely respected and very well liked, said Richardson.

Current ICC Umpires' Manager Doug Cowie will report to Mr van der Bijl and oversee the direct development, mentoring and coaching of the umpires as well as feeding back performance-related information.

One of the best bowlers never to play Test cricket, van der Bijl represented Natal and Transvaal in his native South Africa during the 1960s, 70s and 80s where he broke several wicket-taking records.

He also took 85 first-class wickets for Middlesex at an average of 14.72, third in the averages behind Joel Garner and Richard Hadlee, and was named one of Wisden's five cricketers of the year in 1981.

In order to increase the level of support to umpires, five regional umpires' managers, soon to be appointed, will be responsible for working with umpires on the Emirates Elite and International Panels from those regions as well as all visiting umpires. They will report back to Mr Cowie as part of his overall umpiring strategy.

These appointments are being made in line with recommendations of the ICC Umpires' Task Force consisted of ICC President-Elect David Morgan (chairman), ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle, Cricket Australia Umpires' Manager Geoff Allardice and Mr Richardson which met in London last September.

At its meeting in Dubai at the end of October 2007, the ICC Board approved those recommendations and the recruitment process got underway.

The task force also recommended that the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires be expanded from 10 to 12, a measure that was implemented earlier this year with the addition of Steve Davis of Australia and Asoka de Silva of Sri Lanka to the list.

''The task force conducted a survey of top umpires and the results showed us that we needed to provide speedier feedback and ongoing mentoring to them,'' said Richardson.

''So one of the key recommendations was that five regional coaches be brought on board to provide support to our umpires and that is what we are doing now,'' he added.

He said, ''The five Regional Umpires' Managers all have first-hand experience with the trials, challenges and rewards of umpiring at a high level. They all have credibility and respect in the cricket world and they know the issues that face umpires these days. I have no doubt these appointments will be good for the umpires and the game.'' ''These appointments are part of the ICC's commitment to ensuring that the standard of international cricket umpiring remains high and that we get the most out of our best officials,'' he stated.

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