International Test cricket is set to return to Pakistan after 10-year-hiatus and preparations for the highly anticipated tour are in full swing. International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed umpires and match referees for the landmark Test series between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, starting from December 11 in Rawalpindi.
Andy Pycroft will be supervising the playing control team for the series opener which comprises seasoned umpires including Michael Gough and Richard Kettleborough while Richard Illingworth is nominated for the third umpire role. Shozab Raza from Pakistan is designated as the fourth umpire.
The second Test will be in Karachi from December 19-23 in which Jeff Crowe has been assigned for the match referee duties while veteran umpire Bruce Oxenford from Australia and Joel Wilson from Trinidad and Tobago will be the on-field umpires. Both umpires are part of the ICC Elite Umpire Panel.
Also, Gregory Brathwaite is going to be the third umpire while Ahsan Raza is appointed the fourth umpire for the Karachi Test.
It's worth mentioning that Michael Gough and Joel Wilson will be returning to Pakistan in a span of two months as they were present for the ODI series against Sri Lanka in Karachi that Pakistan won by 2-0.
Pakistan kicked off their ICC Test Championship campaign with the Australia series that they lost by 2-0 and now they would be yearning to redeem themselves against Sri Lanka in their backyard but the touring party is coming with a full-strength squad which harbingers a tooth and nail battle.
It is still early days as far as the championship is concerned but as of now, Sri Lanka are placed on the fourth spot in the points table while Pakistan are languishing at the eighth position just above South Africa.
India and Australia have both played seven Tests thus far; the former has a whooping 360 points while the latter has bagged 176 points.
11-15 December – 1st Test. Michael Gough and Richard Kettleborough (on-field), Richard Illingworth (third umpire), Shozab Raza (fourth umpire); Andy Pycroft (match referee)
19-23 December – 2nd Test. Bruce Oxenford and Joel Wilson (on-field), Gregory Brathwaite (third umpire), Ahsan Raza (fourth umpire); Jeff Crowe (match referee)