ICC President David Morgan has hinted that top umpires like Simon Taufel of Australia could get to stand in games featuring his home country very soon. "I think the progress with the DRS has been extremely good indeed, to the extent that I think we should be thinking about the best umpires being appointed to Test match cricket irrespective of whether they come from the participating teams or not," Morgan told 'Cricinfo'.
Taufel, the winner of ICC's Umpire of Year trophy for five of the past six years, has not stood in an Australia match since 2001. Five of the 12 umpires on the ICC's elite panel are from Australia and England, which leaves only seven neutral officials to choose from when the two countries meet. Morgan said scrapping the neutral system is a possibility which might come true by the Ashes.
"I wouldn't put it any higher than a possibility but I think that in the fullness of time it's more probable than possible," Morgan said. DRS has so far evoked a mixed response among players and experts. Critics of the system feel it is not foolproof and undermines the umpire's authority. "I know that certain countries are very supportive and certain countries were wishing that it should happen even before DRS was thought about," Morgan said.
Morgan said umpires would be supportive of the idea of scrapping the neutral system as they too would not want to spend too much time away from home. "If you think of the international cricket schedule, with the exception of Pakistan, all international cricketers play about half their cricket at home. International umpires stand in away games only. "That makes it a much more difficult lifestyle for them, to the extent that some very good umpires have declined appointment to the elite panel simply because they don't want to be away throughout the working schedule," he said.