The 37-year old ICC Elite Panel umpire says pressure situations bring the best out of him
Umpire Nitin Menon, who officiated in matches across formats in the recently-concluded India-England series, has said that pressure situations bring the best out of him, and feels form matters for umpires as much as it does for players.
The 37-year-old was inducted into the ICC Elite Panel of umpires in June last year but had to wait till this February for his first major assignment. With the pandemic forcing the ICC to appoint local umpires in a bilateral series, Menon officiated in all four Tests besides three of the five T20s and all three ODIs. Menon was lauded for his consistency in his decision-making during the Test series: he had a success rate of 83.87% for on-field decisions, with 26 of 31 reviews against him struck down.
“The last two months have been great,” Menon was quoted as saying by PTI. “It gives one great satisfaction when people notice and appreciate your good work. This series was always going to be a very challenging one because of the hype associated with it – a place in the World Test Championship final at stake, both teams coming back from impressive overseas wins, challenging pitches to officiate on.
“Like players, umpires also have form. I always feel that when in good form, I should do the maximum number of games without any break.”
“As for the white-ball series, it was between the two top-ranked teams in the world. Taking all these factors into consideration, I am pleased that we did well as an umpiring team,” he said.
In a normal scenario, Menon won’t get to officiate in back-to-back games over two months. So, how did he cope up with high pressure scenarios match after match? “I believe umpiring is all about mental toughness,” he said. “More the pressure better is the focus. If we can give our best performances when we are under pressure, that is the true reflection of how strong we are mentally. It’s not new for me to officiate in back-to-back matches, thanks to the amount of domestic cricket organised in India. On an average, we do eight four-day first-class games on the trot in Ranji Trophy, with travel in between from one venue to another.
“Even in the IPL, we do around 14-16 games without a break, so all this experience has really helped me in this series. Like players, umpires also have form. I always feel that when in good form, I should do the maximum number of games without any break.”
After two months of non-stop umpiring, Menon got only a couple of days at home before he left for Chennai ahead of the IPL. The bubble life has been tough on the players and Menon said it is equally challenging for the match officials.
“It is very challenging. It is tougher on off days because we cannot go out of the hotel. This is where having a good team atmosphere becomes crucial. We are like a family in the bubble. We have to look after each other, make sure our colleagues are in the right frame of mind, help them out, meet as often as possible and spend time together.”