Warne slams umpiring standards

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The Independent Online

Former Australian test leg-spinner Shane Warne has criticised some of cricket's leading umpires, New Zealand's Billy Bowden among them, and described the level of officiating in the game as hitting its lowest point in two decades.

Releasing his plan for the future of the game, Warne said umpire salaries should be increased while he criticised South African official Rudi Koertzen, flamboyant New Zealander Billy Bowden and Australia's Daryl Harper.

"The standard of umpiring is as low as I've known it in 20 years," Warne wrote in his column for The Times.

"Yes, it is a difficult job and technology exposes any mistakes, but some of the performances in the Ashes series so far have been pretty ordinary.

"Players will accept that the odd bad decision gets through now and again. At the moment, there are just too many."

Of the present panel, Warne said Pakistani umpire Asad Rauf was "pretty good" and Australia's Simon Taufel "isn't bad".

"Rudi Koertzen has been a good umpire, but unfortunately his time has passed," Warne added of the South African, who has made some controversial decisions during the current test series between Australia and England.

"Billy Bowden is inconsistent, which we saw at Headingley. I think Billy can be very good, but sometimes he gets a bit carried away.

"Talking to players and having a friendly nature is imperative, not the `I'm the boss' schoolteacher approach of Daryl Harper - who is unpopular with players - and the attitude that they never make an error. Billy is another who cannot admit a mistake."

Warne believes umpires should be fast-tracked to the top level, where salaries should rise from about $100,000 to nearly three times that amount on a retainer and match-fee basis.

But he was against the use of technology for anything but line decisions unless the gadgets were foolproof or an umpire made a glaring mistake.

"In that case the third umpire should get on the walkie-talkie and tell his mate in the middle to change his decision," he said.

Warne, a vocal supporter of the Twenty20 format, also called for an end to one-day internationals.

"This is a big call, but cricket evolves and the 50-over game has passed its sell-by date," he said.

"It's amazing to think that after the Ashes series England and Australia play seven one-day games, which take about a month.

"Sorry, but that's just greed on the part of administrators. From now on, we should be playing tests and Twenty20 internationals, with a Twenty20 World Cup every two years."

He also reckons batsmen should be banned from switch-hitting.

"If switch-hitting cannot be banned, then the leg-before ruling must be tweaked so that a batsman changing his stance has a second off stump," Warne said.

Sourced from: The New Zealand Herald