Every sport has a designated person who governs the flow of the game. This official ensures that the sport is played in true spirits in accordance with the laws of its game. In cricket, these officials are designated as umpires and referees. This overview focuses on the former.
There are two on-field umpires and two off-field umpires in cricket. The off-field umpires are called the third umpire and the fourth umpire. The third umpire is the one who has a range of technological advances at their disposal. They help in decision-making including referrals done by umpires and players.
The fourth umpire is also known as the reserve umpire. In professional cricket matches that take place at an international level, the appointment of this umpire is mandatory. The duties of this umpire include the following:
- Bringing new balls and bails
- Carrying drinks for the on-field umpire
- Checking batteries in the light meter
- Observing the pitch during lunch and tea intervals
The appointment of the fourth umpire is done by the home side’s governing body nominees from the International Cricket Council’s panel of chair umpires. Furthermore, there are no gender barriers in the appointment of the fourth umpire. A female can be a fourth umpire in a men’s game and vice-versa.
If one of the on-field umpires cannot take the field due to any circumstance, then the third umpire replaces them as the on-field umpire whereas the fourth umpire takes charge of the duties of the third umpire.
The fourth umpire is decided by the International Cricket Council well in advance of the scheduled fixtures. These are however, subject to change.