March 24, 2023

Gayathri, a former cricketer whose career was cut short by injury, is currently officiating in the second round match between Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh in Jamshedpur. Janani, an ex-software engineer, is umpiring in Surat for the game between Railways and Tripura, while Rathi, a former scorer, is in charge for the Goa vs Pondicherry match in Porvorim.

Hailing from various backgrounds, the trio, already well-respected on the women’s circuit, made history courtesy BCCI’s decision to draft women umpires on the men’s domestic circuit.

A long-time cricket lover, the 36-year-old Janani had approached the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association (TNCA) a couple of times to become an umpire. A few years after the the state body changed its rule to allow women to officiate, she cleared the BCCI’s Level 2 umpiring exam in 2018 and had to think little before quitting her IT job to pursue umpiring. Narayan has since also officiated in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), in 2021.

Rathi, 32, is from Mumbai. She used to score local matches before clearing the BCCI scorers exam. She was the official BCCI scorer for the 2013 Women’s World Cup. Later on, she moved to umpiring.

Janani and Rathi are seasoned umpires and were also included in the ICC panel of development umpires back in 2020.

Veteran umpire coach Denis Burns, who has worked closely with Indian umpires and overseen their rise to the international level, had hailed the duo’s promotion to the ICC development panel.

“I think Janani and Vrinda represent the ‘new wave’ of female umpires in India,” he had said.

Delhi-based Gayathri, 43, dreamed of becoming a cricketer but a shoulder injury quashed her hopes. She started umpiring in 2019 after clearing the BCCI exam. Venugopalan has already served as a reserve (fourth) umpire in the Ranji Trophy.

While there are already several female umpires officiating in men’s cricket in England and Australia, out of 150 registered umpires with the BCCI, only three are women.

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