Cricket: Bird launches initiative

DICKIE BIRD, David Shepherd, Nigel Plews and Ken Palmer were nominated yesterday as the four English umpires for the 20-strong international panel.

The other eight Test-playing nations were asked to put forward two men to join the panel, from which one neutral umpire will be chosen to officiate at every Test match, alongside the local umpire. Bird will have the honour of launching the scheme when he takes charge of New Zealand's first Test against Pakistan in the middle of next month.

It is likely that India or Pakistan will supply two umpires for England's forthcoming series in the Caribbean. India have nominated the respected pair of Srinivas Venkataraghavan and V K Ramaswamy, while Pakistan have chosen the World Cup officials, Khizar Hayat and Mahboob Shah.

NATIONAL GRID INTERNATIONAL UMPIRES PANEL: England: H Bird, D Shepherd, N Plews, K Palmer. India: S Venkataraghavan, V K Ramaswamy. New Zealand: B Aldridge, S Dunne. Pakistan: Khizar Hayat, Mahboob Shah. South Africa: K Liebenberg, B Lambson. Sri Lanka: B Cooray, K Francis. West Indies: S Bucknor, L Barker. Zimbabwe: I Robinson, K Kanjee. Australia to nominate early February.

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