ICC’s announcement of Richard Illingworth and Richard Kettleborough as the on-field umpires for the India vs Australia World Cup 2023 final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad has started giving sleepless nights to the Indian fans. The names of the match officials were revealed on Friday night, two days before the big final on Sunday. This will be the second time Kettleborough will be in the middle for the showpiece occasion. The 50-year-old previously stood alongside Kumar Dharmasena in the 2015 final, which saw Australia overcome New Zealand at the MCG.
Kettleborough’s appointment however may not be very good news for India. This is not the first time he would officiate in an ICC tournament knockout match involving India. Since their last ICC title in the Champions Trophy in 2013, India have been involved in eight knockout matches in various ICC events and Kettelborough was a part of the umpires panel in seven of those.
He was the on-field umpire in five knockout India matches – the 2014 T20 World Cup final vs Sri Lanka, the 2015 World Cup semi-final vs Australia, the 2017 Champions Trophy final vs Pakistan, and the 2019 World Cup semi-final vs New Zealand. He was the TV umpire in the two World Test Championships finals that India lost to New Zealand and Australia. The only ICC knockout match of India, Kettleborough was not a part of was the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final vs England. That, however, did not change India’s luck as they lost that match by 10 wickets.
Illingworth is not far behind as far as India’s jinx is concerned. He was the on-field umpire in four out of India’s last eight ICC knockout matches. The English pair of Illingworth and Kettleborough were in fact, the on-field umpires during India’s last World Cup semi-final against New Zealand.
Why are Illingworth and Kettleborough so frequent in India matches?
ICC’s playing conditions make it mandatory to have neutral umpires in ICC events. Since India and England have met each other only once in an ICC knockout match in the last 12 years, Illingworth and Kettleborough – both Englishman and ICC elite panel officials – have been the most common umpires during India matches.
Vastly experienced umpires
Illingworth and Kettleborough, who were promoted to the ICC International List on the same day in November 2009, both acted as on-field umpires during this week’s semi-finals. Illingworth oversaw India’s victory over New Zealand, with Kettleborough in charge of Australia’s thrilling win against South Africa.
Both men are previous winners of the David Shepherd Trophy, awarded to the ICC’s Umpire of the Year.
Kettleborough, who reached a century of ODIs as an umpire earlier in the tournament when Netherlands took on Sri Lanka, took home the prize in three consecutive years between 2013 and 2015 and Illingworth added his name to the illustrious list in 2019 and 2022.
Match officials for ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 final: India v Australia, Ahmedabad, 19 November
On Sunday, the pair will be joined by Joel Wilson as third umpire, fourth umpire Chris Gaffaney and match referee Andy Pycroft, all of whom were part of the officiating teams across the semi-finals.
On-field Umpires: Richard Illingworth & Richard Kettleborough
Third Umpire: Joel Wilson
Fourth Umpire: Chris Gaffaney
Match Referee: Andy Pycroft