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A special landmark is around the corner for BCCI match referee Sunil Chaturvedi. The upcoming Ranji Trophy game between Delhi and Hyderabad, starting December 25, will be Chaturvedi’s 100th first-class match in the post.
Chaturvedi, a former wicket-keeper batsman who played for Uttar Pradesh, notched up seven hundreds and scored 3864 runs in his 13-year cricketing career. He effected 105 dismissals - 88 catches and 17 stumpings during his 72-match first-class stint.
He made his debut as a match referee in November 1999 when he officiated in the North Zone Ranji Trophy game between Himachal Pradesh and Services in Una.
When asked how and why he decided to work as a match referee after a stint as a cricketer, he said: "I wanted to stay connected with the game even after I retired as a player. I thought of getting into coaching or commentary full-time, but around that time the BCCI introduced match referees for domestic games. All the state associations were asked to nominate one person each for the role. The minimum requirement to become a referee was 25 first-class games. I'm grateful to the UPCA that they nominated my name. Match referees were known as 'observers' for the first few years."
Chaturvedi, who has worked as a match official in Duleep Trophy, Ranji Trophy and Z.R. Irani Cup in addition to officiating in the first-class matches involving the ‘A’ teams from India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and South Africa, also spoke about the challenges that are involved in the job. He had a message for future aspirants.
"Integrity, leadership qualities, confidence to take quick decisions, man-management, communication skills, in-depth knowledge of the games and its rules - these are some of the important attributes that a match referee must possess. If anyone ticks these boxes, they must go ahead and take up this profession," he said.
"It is a satisfying job because it's an important one. Cricket, in the world over is getting increasingly professional, and I feel referees play an important role in driving forward this change. In competitive sport, with so much at stake, things can spiral out of control in no time. The referee's presence ensures that doesn't happen," he concluded.