Former Australia skipper Ricky Ponting has criticised the level of umpiring in the ongoing first Ashes Test at Edgbaston. The opening day of the game was marred by several umpiring mistakes as Joel Wilson and Aleem Dar failed to do justice to their reputation. In fact, there were more than half-a-dozen wrong decisions given by the umpires.

Eventually, four of Dar’s and Wilson’s errors were corrected up by DRS but three were not. Ricky Ponting has now suggested that the time has come for the game to reconsider the need for neutral umpires in international cricket.  In 2002, the ICC had mandated the use of neutral umpires in all international cricket. Consequently, some of the best umpires in the world are not being able to officiate in the ongoing Ashes.

Steve Smith (Credits: Twitter)

“I would like to think the game has come far enough now for the game to not have neutral umpires,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.

“People might say that with all the technology we’ve got now, it doesn’t matter that much. But it’s not a good spectacle when pretty obviously wrong decisions are made. There’s been a lot a negativity about the DRS over the years, but we’re pretty lucky that we had it last night.

“It’s already been spoken about a lot among the players. If it’s not brought up (at that next MCC meeting), I’ll make sure it’s added to the agenda. Surely (English umpire) Richard Kettleborough and the like would want to be umpiring the best series. The best umpires can end up missing out on all the big tournaments,” added Ponting who is part of the MCC’s influential Cricket Committee.

Ponting also said that the neutral umpires rule could also force some officials to early retirement.

“It could force umpires into retirement a bit early as well when someone like (former Australian umpire) Simon Taufel is spending most of his life (overseas), which is a bit harder than spending your time in Australia,” said Ponting.

Australia, meanwhile, rode on their former skipper Steve Smith’s heroic century to recover from 122 for 8 and post a competitive 284. In reply, England closed the day on ten for no loss.

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