Nitin Menon inducted into ICC Elite Panel

Nitin Menon inducted into ICC Elite Panel

In this file photo taken on January 21, 2020 umpire Nitin Menon awaits Langton Rusere, the third umpire's decision on the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Dinesh Chandimal during the third day of the first Test cricket match between Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka at the Harare Sports Club in Harare. Credit: AFP Photo

Less than a year after making his debut as a Test umpire, Nitin Menon has graduated to ICC’s Elite Panel of umpires for the 2020-2021 season, replacing England’s Nigel Llong after International Cricket Council conducted its annual review on Monday. 

At 36, the former Madhya Pradesh cricketer, is the youngest on the illustrious panel, and is only the third from India to make the grade after S Venkataraghavan and S Ravi. Menon has officiated in three Tests, 24 One-Day Internationals and 16 Twenty20 Internationals. He has also officiated during the 2018 and 2020 editions of the Women’s T20 World Cup.

"I obviously didn't think I was going to make it to the Elite Panel so early in my career," Menon told DH on Monday. "It came as a surprise to my family too, but I am very thrilled. This is a rare opportunity and I feel like I am ready to make the most of it." 

A selection panel consisting of ICC General Manager - Cricket, Geoff Allardice (Chairman), former player and commentator Sanjay Manjrekar, and match referees Ranjan Madugalle and David Boon, picked Menon, who was earlier part of the Emirates ICC International Panel of Umpires.

"Only a few days ago I was talking to my father and he was telling me that I was good enough to become part of the Elite Panel. We were talking about Indian umpires are actually very good but still haven't been recognised. It was almost a year since we had an umpire on the Elite Panel and that was a concern," he offered.   

Menon, like his father Nadrendra Menon, became a state-panel umpire in 2005 before clearing the BCCI’s all-India umpiring exam in 2006. His domestic stint kicked off during the 2007-08 season.

"I knew I was going nowhere as a cricketer. I didn't have much of a career, and I knew I wouldn't make it as one for several reasons, but my father believed that I could become an umpire and since I was young, he believed, I would do well and stay on for longer and learn," he recalled. 

"Ranji Trophy was a great initiation to my umpiring career. I had to prove myself at that level to get a chance in the IPL. And once you're in the IPL, it's like you're officiating in an international game. It's intense and since I started young, I was able to understand the pressures that come with it and how to handle it."

Only a couple of weeks ago, Menon was excited at the possibility of covering more games after the ICC decided to temporarily suspend the requirement to appoint neutral umpires. Menon had mentioned then that he and three others - Anil Chaudhary, C Shamsuddin and Virender Sharma - would have the platform to make it to the Elite panel. 

Little did he know then that the upgrade would arrive in under a month.

"It's my job now to do a good job because a lot of Indian umpires will look at me for guidance. It's a bigger role and it's more coveted," he said.     

ICC Elite panel of umpires: Aleem Dar, Kumar Dharmasena, Marais Erasmus, Chris Gaffaney, Michael Gough, Nitin Menon, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough, Bruce Oxenford, Paul Reiffel, Rod Tucker, Joel Wilson. 

ICC Elite panel of match referees: David Boon, Chris Broad, Jeff Crowe, Ranjan Madugalle, Andy Pycroft, Richie Richardson, Javagal Srinath