Former England captain and writer Alec Stewart has called for the return of home-based umpires in international play.
In an opinion piece written for BBC.co.uk, Stewart stated that the Ashes series this year exposed glaring mistakes in the way the matches were officiated.
Stewart is England's highest appearance maker in tests.
The well-known test match commentator blamed the mistakes on fatigue, saying that only four non-Australian or English umpires belonged to the International Cricket Council Elite Panel: Tony Hill of New Zealand, Khamar Dharmasena of Sri Lanka, Marais Erasmus of South Africa, and Pakistani Aleem Dar. These four rotated throughout the four-game series that England won in convincing fashion, culminating in a 74-run win at Chester-le-Street.
"If some of the most talented and respected officials happen to be English or Australian then why shouldn't they be appearing in the Ashes?" Stewart asked his readers.
While acknowledging the possibility of biased refereeing -- such as the 1987 argument between England captain Mike Gatting and official Shakoor Rana of Pakistan - Stewart explained that the risk will be likely mitigated by modern technology. Even as he deplored the new Decision Review System, he also wrote that the DRS eliminates bias by allowing teams to contest incorrect calls.
The new organisational structure for umpires - in which they are employed by the ICC itself, not the national associations, allows for periodic performance reviews and ends the risk of biased calls.
In the end, Stewart said, it all boils down to keeping the umpires fresh, physically and mentally.
"If umpires were allowed to officiate for some of the year in their own countries, they would have the added benefit of being able to spend more time with their families... The paying public deserves to see not only the best players, but also the best umpires the game has to offer," Stewart wrote.
Indeed, as the recently-concluded Ashes shows, reforms are badly needed in cricket. The ICC is reportedly open to debating Stewart's proposal.
Other parties, though, are cool to the possibility.
"Why not have English and one Australian umpire?" asked commenter beardsmoreforengland.
Amateur-level umpire Colin Forsyth rushed to the defense of his Elite Panel colleagues.
"The problem surely lies with the ICC in the fact that there are too few foreign umpires on the elite panel," Forsyth commented.
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