Umpire Anil Chaudhary, who was supposed to officiate the now-suspended three-match ODI series between India and South Africa, is currently stranded at his ancestral village in UP because of the 21-day countrywide lockdown imposed by the central government due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chaudhary, who has so far officiated 20 ODIs and 27 T20Is in his umpiring career, revealed how he is facing a major communication issue in his village, having to even climb up trees in search of mobile network.
"I’m here with my two sons since March 16. I was visiting the village after quite some time so I planned to stay for a week but then the lockdown was announced and now I’m following the directives, while my mother and wife are in Delhi," the 55-year-old told PTI-Bhasha from Dangrol in UP’s Shamli district.
"The biggest problem is the network here. I can’t talk to anyone or use the internet. To be able to do that I have to go outside the village, climb up a tree or go to the rooftop. Then also the network is not available all the time."
Chaudhary has posted pictures over social media of him trying to make a call from the top of a tree. He needs internet connectivity to be able to access ICC’s online programmes for umpires, the absence of which is also affecting his son's studies, with several educational institutes opting for online classes to finish the curriculum.
“One of my son studies in the Hindu College, his classes are going on but he is unable to attend them," he said, informing how the village has been dealing with mobile network issues for the past one year despite being less than 100 km away from the national capital, Delhi.
"This network problem has been there for the past one year but because of the lockdown, it is affecting studies. This village is only 85km away from Delhi," Chaudhary added.
The chief of the village, says Chaudhary, has already written a letter to the district in-charge to make a complaint on the matter.
"We sent a letter 10 days ago but we are yet to receive an answer."
Chaudhary has been quite vocal in urging people to understand the gravity of the situation and practise social distancing.
"I have asked people here not to gather around, avoid playing cards together, continuously wash their hands with soap," he said.
"I have also distributed some masks to them and all of them are maintaining social distancing."
(Inputs from PTI)