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History to be created at Ranji Trophy with female umpires

History to be created at Ranji Trophy with female umpires

New Delhi: When the trio of female umpires—Vrinda Rathi, Janani Narayan, and Gayathri Venugopalan—break new ground and preside in the Ranji Trophy, it would be crucial to maintain open communication with the players and avoid being intimidated by aggressive pleas, a BCCI official said on Tuesday. Female umpires will be requested to officiate in men's cricket matches for the first time in Indian cricket, even as Gayathri has previously worked as a reserve (fourth) umpire in the Ranji Trophy. The three female officials will only be able to work a few matches in the men's first-class competition since the Ranji Trophy, which starts on December 13, falls on the same day as the Indian women's cricket team's home series against Australia.

Chennai-based Narayanan and Mumbai-based Rathi are seasoned umpires and were included in the International Cricket Council's panel of development umpires back in 2018.

Delhi-based Gayathri, who could not make it as a player, is among the three registered umpires in the BCCI panel besides Janani and Vrinda. A BCCI official said dealing with the male players will be a big challenge for the female trio. Stakes are high in Ranji Trophy and tempers can flare in the middle.

"As umpires, you can't be too soft in the middle. Otherwise, the players would try to intimidate them. You have to be tough and the implementation of the rules has to be perfect. Communication with the players is key. But all these three are doing well and should do well," a BCCI official, who did not wish to be named, told PTI.

The 32-year-old Rathi has risen from the maidans of Mumbai while 36-year-old Narayan left her cushy job as a software engineer to pursue umpiring. Venugopalan, 43, started umpiring in 2019 after clearing the BCCI exam.

The BCCI still has a lot of catching up to do with female umpires already officiating in men's cricket in Australia and England. Out of 150 registered umpires with the BCCI, only three are women.

"We can't plan their games in Ranji Trophy but we will give them opportunities as per their availability. The Australian team is coming to India and will be followed by 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 very promising umpires and as per BCCI's vision, we want to promote more female umpires in men's cricket. We will ensure that more women give exams in future but we have not set a limit."

With PTI inputs

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TAGS:Ranji Trophyfemale Umpires
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