By Vishesh Roy
New Delhi [India], July 1 (ANI): With International Cricket Council (ICC) ban on the use of saliva to polish the ball, bowlers across countries have been vocal about alternatives to compensate for the perceived loss of swing but umpire Nitin Menon, the newest inclusion in ICC's elite panel, says doing so would not be in the spirit of the game.
Menon's inclusion on Monday to the ICC's Elite Panel of Umpires makes him the youngest ever to be included in the panel.
As a precautionary measure against the coronavirus, the apex cricketing body has decided to ban using saliva to shine the cricket ball and this decision has attracted polarising opinions.
In an interaction with ANI, Menon said: "We will see what happens in England because they are practising not to use saliva on the ball, so I think most of the teams are practising that way so it shouldn't really be a problem. Using other alternatives apart from saliva would not be in the spirit of the game."
Talking about his inclusion into the Elite Panel, Menon said: "I was happy when I found out that I have been included in the Panel of Umpires. I was expecting to be included next year but it is good that I am now in the panel. Everyone in my family is very happy."
ICC has also re-introduced non-neutral umpires for bilateral series as part of its interim playing regulations to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. However, with rising COVID-19 cases in India, Menon may have to wait till next year to officiate in an international match.
"The next series is in India in January so maybe we have to wait till then to officiate, but if the situation improves before then that time frame, then maybe we can get a chance before that," Menon told ANI.
Giving his take as an umpire, Menon also said that matches being played behind closed doors won't affect much the concentration of umpires. He also said that he really wants to officiate in the Ashes series between England and Australia.
"Ashes would be one series that I really want to officiate in, The series is traditional and it is hard to officiate in that particular contest," Menon said.
"Honestly, matches behind closed doors would not be much of a change, we are concentrating the same way with or without crowds, so I don't think it would make much of a difference," he added.
Menon is the third and currently the only Indian after Srinivas Venkataraghavan and Sundaram Ravi to feature in the ICC's Elite Panel of Umpires.
Nitin, who recently stood in his maiden Test, has officiated in three Tests, 24 ODIs and 16 T20Is. He has also officiated in two ICC Women's T20 World Cups.
His elevation comes on the back of his consistent performances in the ICC panel of international umpires, where he was first named in 2016. A former cricketer Menon represented Madhya Pradesh in U-16, U-19, U-23, and List A matches from 1996 to 2004.
At 22, he decided to follow the footsteps of his father Narendra, a former first first-class cricketer and an international umpire. He cleared the BCCI umpiring exam in 2006 at the age of 23 and started officiating in domestic matches from the 2007-08 season. (ANI)