Vrinda Rathi Becomes India’s First National Woman Umpire
By CricShots - Oct 23, 2018 5:07 pm
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In any sporting event across the globe, umpires do play a crucial role in order to make sure that the play happens within the laws of the game. This is precisely the outlook of 29-year-old Mumbai-based Vrinda Rathi, one of India’s first women umpires, who is now eligible to stand in the cricket matches at the national level. As per the reports in Times of India, she reckons that the role of an umpire is about being a “facilitator of play” instead of a mere “mechanical enforcer of rules”.

Vrinda Rathi

Vrinda is a Mumbai-based fitness coach who spends her weekends umpiring in the city’s dusty maidans officiating Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) matches and now this is an opportunity of a lifetime for her. Recently, she cleared the BCCI’s Level-2 Umpiring Exam, thus becoming eligible for umpiring in international women’s cricket and junior boys’ matches.

She got an inspiration for the same when she was on a short stint as a scorer in the 2013 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, where she saw Kathy Cross, an international umpire who retired from the game earlier this year. At the time Rathi was a BCCI affiliated scorer. After the World Cup, she decided to undergo training and appeared for local and state-level umpiring exams.

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During a conversation with TOI, Vrinda said, “Umpiring requires you to hone your skills under the scorching sun. The job calls for both physical endurance and mental toughness. More than body language, communication, and interpersonal skills, it’s astute decision-making that defines a good umpire.”

After passing her Level-2 exams, Vrinda will look to officiate at least 60 match days on an average, from September to April every season. Clearing the BCCI exam, which entailed written exams, a test of theoretical knowledge, alongside viva and practical tests, was a long two-year process for Rathi.

Rathi umpiring in a Mumbai

Once again, as any other profession women enter for the first time, there were unfounded fears of her ability to officiate matches. Describing the same, Rathi said, “When everyone around knows that you mean business at the center of the field, your gender does not matter.”

Chennai’s N Janani is the other international woman umpire from India. Moreover, Rathi reckons that women are better suited to become umpires with their ability to remain patient over an extended period of time and what she calls “lack of rigidity”.

Vrinda explained, “Ego is something an umpire cannot afford. Boys also control their aggression in [the] presence of women umpires.”