Friday, March 26, 2010


Be it a Twenty20 IPL match or a Bangladesh - England Test match, whenever the score stands at 111 or any of its multiples, I think of one of the jolliest figures I have seen on a cricket field - David Shepherd.

One of the most popular umpires in cricket, David Shepherd expired on 27th October 2009 - exactly 150 days ago.

Shep's umpiring records:
Tests: 92
ODIs: 172 (including 3 World Cup Finals)

David Frith, a founding editor of the Wisden Cricket Monthly, in his tribute to the great ump, said:
"His geniality sometimes got the better of him. At Lord's, when Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy scooped up a low edge and fairly quickly shook his head to indicate that it wasn't a catch, umpire Shepherd gave him a burst of appreciative applause. Yet while he was not beyond offering the odd pleasantry to a player, it was never in an ingratiating way. He never sought the limelight. He didn't need to. His rotund shape and florid face stamped him as a favourite character, and he had an outstanding talent for calming incipient frenzy out in the middle."

Simon Taufel, the 5-time ICC Umpire of the Year, said:
"Shep's umpiring style convinced me that in order to be a good umpire, you needed to be a good person first."
"I could never fault Shep's fairness, integrity or desire to umpire well. He took enormous pride in his work and in his performance - if he ever made an error, he took it personally, which showed me that he truly cared about what he was doing. Shep's umpiring record speaks for itself, but my fondest memories of Shep will be of the man - a true gentleman, a kind spirit and a great bloke."

As his retirement loomed, Shepherd was lauded wherever he went. He was given a guard of honour by the New Zealand and Australian teams during the series between the two countries in March 2005. After his last Test, that between West Indies and Pakistan at Kingston, Jamaica in early June 2005, he was presented with a bat by West Indian captain Brian Lara. He was in fact given special dispensation by the ICC to umpire in an England Test at Lords as his final Test, but turned down the opportunity to maintain the ICC's neutral umpiring policy for Test matches.

That was his biggest virtue. Which human being would not want a chance to sign off in style? He could have easily taken the offer from ICC and still be remembered fondly. Yet, he chose not to. He was an umpire - and umpires follow all the rules.

To one of the most respected officials ever in cricket, we miss you!

No comments: