Well-travelled Barbadian umpire Gregory Brathwaite has been tipped to become the next Test umpire from the region.
West Indies Cricket Umpires Association secretary, Vivian Johnson, said the 50-year-old Brathwaite was currently among a group of officials on an “emerging panel” of international umpires soon expected to graduate to the longest format.
“Based on reports, Gregory is in what we would call the ‘emerging panel’ of the international panel of umpires,” Johnson said.
“We have four members on that panel – the international panel – and he is integrated into the emerging panel. That means he is being earmarked for Test cricket in the future. That’s where they move from; it is on that level.
“The ICC competitions that are held internationally like the women’s tournaments and T20 tournaments, some of our umpires are asked to go to those tournaments, and Gregory has been going to them and getting a lot of finals and semi-finals.”
Brathwaite has already stood in 44 One-Day Internationals, the last coming on England’s high profile tour of South Africa last February, and has also officiated in 28 T20 Internationals.
Recently, he was third television umpire for the final of the Women’s T20 World Cup in Melbourne last March, and was also good enough to stand in the final of the women’s 50-overs World Cup three years ago in England.
Brathwaite is one of four Caribbean umpires on the ICC International Panel, alongside fellow countryman Leslie Reifer, Guyanese Nigel Duguid and Jamaican Patrick Gustard.
Currently, Trinidadian Joel Wilson is the only regional official on the ICC’s Elite Panel, having already stood in 19 Tests, including two of the five high profile Ashes Tests last summer.
Johnson said Gustard, Duguid and Reifer were also making strides, along with woman umpire Jacqueline Williams – a 44-year-old Jamaican who made her international debut last year and had already stood in five ODIs involving associate nations.
“Jacqueline Williams has been doing exceedingly well so she’d been recognised worldwide,” Johnson pointed out.
“Cricket umpiring is a long game – it takes time. Since 2010 when we formed a [new] regional panel, it took nine years for one of those to be elevated to the Elite Panel which we are grateful for, so it’s a long game.
“There are countries who don’t have representatives there so we’re hoping that over time we’ll get two, we’ll get three but we have to continue the training and we have to make sure the umpires remain sharp, are doing the games that will get them to that level and keep them at that level.”
Johnson said WICUA, in association with Cricket West Indies, had been collaborating to ensure the region produced high quality officials.
“We’re working hard. The board (CWI) has been putting in a lot of training and a lot of programmes for the umpires to succeed at the highest level and it is paying off,” said Johnson.
“As a matter of fact, I will go back as far as 2010 when we had a meeting at the board level in Antigua and we decided we were going to be fast-forwarding and using a lot of young umpires to give them the requisite training and experience so that within a requisite number of years, they would be advancing to that [international] level.
“For many years we’ve had exchange programmes with Bangladesh and England so many of these umpires we’re speaking about, they went on these training programmes to sharpen their skills, to see what other cultures were all about.”
Jamaican Steve Bucknor remains the most successful umpire to emerge from the region, having stood in 128 Tests and 181 ODIs before quitting in 2009.