India's Nitin Menon becomes youngest umpire to enter Elite Panel
Indian umpire Nitin Menon, on Monday, became the youngest ever to be included in the International Cricket Council's Elite Panel of Umpires for the 2020-21 season. The 36-year-old replaced England's Nigel Llong for the upcoming season. Notably, he is only the third Indian to break into the prestigious group after former players Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Sundaram Ravi. Here is more.
Menon was earlier a part of the Emirates ICC International Panel of Umpires. He was picked by a selection panel comprising ICC General Manager (Cricket) Geoff Allardice (Chairman), former player and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar, and match referees Ranjan Madugalle and David Boon. With several Indian umpires facing criticism lately, Menon has stood out with his consistent run.
The other members of the Elite Panel of Umpires are Aleem Dar, Kumar Dharmasena, Marais Erasmus, Chris Gaffaney, Michael Gough, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough, Bruce Oxenford, Paul Reiffel, Rod Tucker and Joel Wilson. Among them, Dar has officiated in the most number of internationals (386).
Nitin Menon is a son of former international umpire (Narendra Menon). Interestingly, Nitin had a brief international career as a player, wherein he represented Madhya Pradesh in a number of List A games. However, he called it quits and became a senior umpire at the age of 23. He has already officiated in two ICC tournaments (2018 and 2020 Women's T20 World Cup).
Menon made his (international) umpiring debut in 2017, wherein Team India played a T20I game against England at the Green Park Stadium. In a career spanning three years, he has now officiated in 43 matches at the international level (Tests - 3, ODIs - 24, T20Is - 16) He has also been the TV Umpire in 12 internationals, taking the overall tally to 53.
Menon's father pushed him to take the next stride. "In 2006, BCCI conducted an exam for umpires after a gap of 10 years," Nitin said. "My father told me to take a chance and give the exam saying 'if you clear, you can always take up umpiring as a profession', so I took the Test and in 2006, I became an umpire."
"The Ranji Trophy is very competitive, and then when we do well we get a chance in the IPL. When I stood in my first international game, there still was a bit of pressure, but I quickly started feeling more at home," he added.
As per his qualification in the Elite Panel, Menon is eligible to officiate in the Ashes, which will be held in Australia. He will also be a potential candidate to stand for the five-match Test series between India and England, slated for next year. However, his eligibility for Ashes will only be cleared if the ICC revokes its recent policy of promoting local umpires.