New Delhi: Clear communication with the players and not being intimidated by aggressive calls will be key as the trio of female referees – Vrinda Rathi, Janani Narayan and Gayathri Venugopalan – break new ground and perform in the Ranji Trophy, a BCCI an official said Tuesday.
It will be a first for Indian cricket when female umpires will be asked to officiate in the men’s cricket matches, even though Gayathri has served as reserve (fourth) umpire in Ranji Trophy in the past.
With the Ranji Trophy, which begins on December 13 and coincides with the Indian women’s cricket team’s home series against Australia, the three female officials are only allowed to play certain matches in the men’s first-class competition.
Narayanan from Chennai and Rathi from Mumbai are seasoned umpires and were included in the International Cricket Council’s panel of development umpires in 2018.
Gayathri from Delhi, who couldn’t make it as a player, is one of three registered referees in the BCCI panel alongside Janani and Vrinda.
A BCCI official said dealing with the male players will be a major challenge for the female trio.
The stakes are high in Ranji Trophy and tempers can flare in the middle.
“As referees you can’t be too soft in the middle. Otherwise the players would try to intimidate them. You have to be tough and the rules have to be followed perfectly. Communication with the players is key. But all three are doing well and should be doing well,” a BCCI official, who declined to be named, told PTI.
Rathi, 32, has risen from Mumbai’s maidans, while 36-year-old Narayan gave up her easy job as a software engineer to become a referee. Venugopalan, 43, started refereeing in 2019 after passing the BCCI exam.
The BCCI still has a lot to do with female umpires already active in men’s cricket in Australia and England. Of the 150 registered referees with the BCCI, only three are women.
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“We cannot schedule their matches in Ranji Trophy, but we will give them chances according to their availability. The Australian team comes to India and is followed by the New Zealand A-side and then you also have domestic women’s cricket. We need their services there as well,” the official said.
“All three are promising umpires and according to BCCI’s vision we want to promote more female umpires in men’s cricket. We will ensure that more women take the exam in the future, but we do not set a limit.”
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