On Friday, Cricket Australia agreed not to replace retired umpires Simon Fry and John Ward for the upcoming season in their 12-member national panel as part of the cost-cutting measures to cope with the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both of them had retired earlier this year. With Cricket Australia not replacing them, and Darren Close replacing Geoff Joshua, who had not extended his contract, means the panel has been reduced to 10 umpires.
In conjunction with the reduction in the number of umpires, the 10-member panel will have to officiate in more matches compared with last season. Senior umpires were approached in April to find ways to cut expenses, and they soon decided to amend their Memorandum of Understanding with the governing body.
Peter Roach, Head of Cricket Operations of Cricket Australia, thanked the umpires and said it was a mutual decision to cut headcount. Roach mentioned to cricket.com.au, “When we were faced with the position of having to find 25 per cent savings this year, the umpire leadership group willingly engaged in discussions and said, ‘we’re here to help.”
He explained further during the interview, “Very quickly (we) came to an outcome of finding some reductions in that MOU. The umpires had every right to say ‘no, that’s an existing deal’ but they came to the table and said they were there to help. He pointed out to the media, “We’re very thankful for that leadership group and the whole umpiring group … for being so open in their willingness to assist. They’re a terrific group of people who have the game’s interests at heart.”
Australia’s umpires are represented by three senior officials who are elected each year. Every year, the 10-man umpire panel receives a set retainer, while the four umpires who have been nominated to aslo stand in men’s internationals – Gerard Abood, Shawn Craig, Sam Nogajski and Paul Wilson. They can also earn match payments from the International Cricket Council.
Cricket Australia’s 2020-21 National Umpire Panel: Gerard Abood*, Darren Close, Shawn Craig*, Greg Davidson, Phil Gillespie, Mike Graham-Smith, Donovan Koch, Sam Nogajski*, Tony Wilds, Paul Wilson*
Supplementary Umpire Panel: Nathan Johnstone, Simon Lightbody, Troy Penman, Claire Polosak, David Taylor, Ben Treloar
*nominated to the ICC as umpires for Men’s Internationals