Keralite K N Ananthapadmanabhan has made it to the International Cricket Council (ICC) International Panel of Umpires. The former Kerala captain passed the umpiring test in 2006 and has been officiating in first-class matches since 2008.
Ananthapadmanabhan, fondly called Ananthan, is the fourth Indian umpire in the current international panel after C Shamshuddin, Anil Chaudhary and Virender Sharma while Nitin Menon is the lone Indian in the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires. Only three umpires from Kerala - Jose Kurishinkal, Dr K N Raghavan and S Dendapani – have so far officiated in international matches.
Ananthan, who played 105 first-class matches, was a highly-rated leg-spinner at the domestic level. However, his playing career ran parallel to that of leg-spin legend Anil Kumble and Ananthan failed to realise his dream of playing for the country.
But, he has been determined to give something back to the sport and turned to umpiring. It’s been a steady progress for the former Indian Overseas Bank employee.
“I am really happy that I have been included in the international panel. It’s been my aim to officiate in international matches. I knew I was getting close in the last two-three years. I have been an on-field umpire in the IPL (Indian Premier League) for the past four seasons. I stood in the finals of Ranji Trophy, (Syed) Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 and (Vijay) Hazare Trophy one-day championships last season. Nitin Menon got elevated to the Elite Panel (in June) and I could make it to the international panel,” Ananthan told Onmanorama over the phone.
Ananthan has been officiating in the high-pressure IPL from 2016 and he hopes that it will stand him in good stead. “The intensity of IPL is something else. There is so much at stake and I am sure the IPL experience will help me when handling international games,” he said.
Ananthan feels the use of technology is good as it reduces the number of errors. “Umpires are humans and naturally they will make mistakes. The use of technology is definitely cutting down the number of errors. It’s a part of the game’s evolution and the umpire has to adapt to the challenges.”
Ananthan was in the spotlight earlier this year when he stood from both ends during the second day of the Ranji Trophy final between Saurashtra and Bengal after his colleague Shamshuddin suffered an injury.
“Unfortunately Shamshuddin got hit on the first day. I was mentally prepared to stand from both ends throughout the second day. But luckily I had to do the double duty only in the morning session as a replacement umpire joined me after lunch,” said Ananthan.
Ananthan, who will turn 51 next month, is also a qualified coach and has been running an academy on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram. But the umpiring duties have kept him away from the academy for the past couple of years.
“The parents chose my academy for the sole reason that I will be coaching their children. But my commitments have forced me away from the academy,” added Ananthan.