Saturday, August 8

Fulfilling Father’s Dream, Aspiring for Ashes: Youngest Umpire Nitin Menon’s Journey to Elite Panel

Fulfilling Father's Dream, Aspiring for Ashes: Youngest Umpire Nitin Menon's Journey to Elite Panel

Nitin Menon acquired a pleasing shock on Monday (June 29) when he turned solely the third Indian to be named within the International Cricket Council’s Elite Panel of umpires.

At the age of solely 36, Nitin follows former India captain S Venkataraghavan and S Ravi, who was dropped from the panel in 2019, within the listing. He turns into the youngest to make it to the Elite Panel, and by his personal admission, he wasn’t anticipating the elevation this early.

“I was super-happy. It was a surprise as well because I was not expecting this year. I thought it would take maybe one more year, so I was very happy,” Nitin tells Cricketnext.

Menon’s rise to the highest is an attention-grabbing story of a cricketer who gave up taking part in the game early, on the suggestion of his father Narendra Menon who was a world umpire. Cricket has seen many father-son duos taking part in for their nations, however here’s a uncommon story of a father-son pair making it as worldwide umpires.

Narendra performed 51 first-class and one List A match for Madhya Pradesh earlier than turning an umpire. Narendra served as a world umpire between 1993 and 1998, however could not fulfill his dream of officiating in a Test match. His son Nitin ticked that field final 12 months within the Test between Afghanistan and West Indies, and has taken a fair greater step on Monday.

“He was very happy when he heard the news yesterday, because his dream was to be a Test match umpire,” says Nitin. “In his times, there was no Elite Panel or something like that, but he always wanted to officiate a Test match which he couldn’t do. So he was thrilled that at least I can do more Test matches now.

“Since even he was a first-class participant, it was in our household that cricket has to be there. That’s why I took up taking part in cricket. When he stop and have become an umpire, I may see him stand in worldwide matches on TV. That positively influenced my resolution to change into an umpire. He has at all times been useful together with his steerage by means of my profession.”

Nitin began his career as a player but couldn’t make it big. While he managed two List A games, he says his performances was not enough to make him a Ranji player.

“I attempted, however my performances weren’t ok and I misplaced motivation as I assumed my profession was going nowhere as a participant,” he says. “Luckily in 2006, BCCI carried out all-India umpiring exams. My father stated simply give it a strive. If you clear and really feel that you simply’re snug with umpiring then do it as a occupation.”

Nitin cleared the exam and there was no looking back. He began with officiating in age-group matches for the first two years, and when he was only 26, did what he couldn’t as a player: made his Ranji debut in the game between Vidarbha and Goa.

ALSO READ: India’s Nitin Menon in ICC’s Elite Panel of Umpires for 2020-21 Season, Youngest in the List

Menon was only in his 20s when he was officiating teams with players his age or older, which led to ‘awkward’ situations. He says there were even times when some players tried to dominate him.

“In the primary couple of seasons, I bought age-group video games and it wasn’t a lot of an issue as I used to be 23-24,” he recalls. “In 2009, I bought my first Ranji sport – between Vidarbha and Goa. There have been a number of gamers in Vidarbha who used to play in opposition to me as a result of it’s also a central zone crew like Madhya Pradesh. Players like Akshay Wakhare, Faiz Fazal have performed with me in Under-19 cricket, so it was fairly awkward to officiate them. But finally I bought used to it and began having fun with it.


“Of course, I’ve felt that (players trying to dominate). Players can easily make out that I’m a young man, might not be experienced. So they try to put pressure, but ultimately if we’re strong on the field as an umpire. If I feel I’m doing something right and stand for myself, then the players respect that. And then when they see you over four days, they understand that although he’s young, he’s doing his job professionally so they respect you for that.”

Nitin says it is a bonus in some ways to be a younger umpire.

“Since the players are also young, you can be a friend for them rather than a strict teacher in a school who advises students to do this and that. Sometimes I feel young umpires who are friendly and talk to them rather than being strict headmasters makes it easier to manage a game,” he says.

“Physically we’re much fitter than someone in their late 40s or 50s. Another advantage is that, if you start umpiring very early, you get more experience as you grow so it is around 30s that you peak as an umpire. If you start in your 20s, you’re experienced by that time. As a mature umpire, you can come up and with experience, it’s easier to conduct games especially first-class games in India.”

Another umpire who made it huge as a relative teen was Simon Taufel. Nitin, although, says he by no means desires to be a ‘clone’ of somebody and needs to chart his personal path. His elevation can also be an enormous enhance for Indian umpires, who’ve usually been criticised in recent times. Nitin does not agree with the criticism and says places it down to elevated publicity.

“Why our umpires are criticised around the world is because of the exposure they get,” he explains. “The more exposure they get, the more mistakes are noted. Since India’s domestic system is so strong, a lot of matches are on TV, including the IPL. So Indian umpires are in the limelight all the time. Hardly any people see other countries’ domestic matches on TV in India. The foreign umpires are also doing same amount of mistakes as Indian umpires. Only thing is that our umpires are exposed more to the camera so more mistakes are highlighted. Every umpire in the world is doing the same number of mistakes as Indian umpires.”

Till now Nitin has officiated in three Tests, 24 ODIs, and 16 T20Is. As he begins his new chapter within the Elite Panel, he has set his objectives greater.

“I definitely would like to do Ashes. It’s the best Test series happening in the world. I would like to do a men’s world cup in the near future, I’ve not experienced that before. The T20 World Cup in India (2021) will be a very good experience if I can get a chance.”

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