Umpiring is a challenging task not just in cricket but in any sport. Umpires must soak up the stress from officiating high-stakes matches and yet, maintain a calm demeanor. The best umpires are favorites of players and spectators alike. There are numerous cricket umpires in the lengthy history of international cricket who are well-liked by all.
Despite the adoption of technology in cricket, the umpire’s role is as crucial as ever. Their decisions umpires make leave an indelible mark on the game and its reputation. Thus umpiring is a role to be taken seriously.
Some of the most well-known umpires are well-known personalities, often as popular as the cricketers who take to the field. If you claim to be an avid cricket fan and are now looking forward to learning how to play fantasy cricket, then surely you must know of some of the most phenomenal umpires who have left their robust legacy behind.
1. Dickie Bird:
Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird, the most beloved of all cricket umpires, made his umpiring debut in 1973 during the third and the last Test of the three-match series between England and New Zealand at Leeds.
Dicke Birds officiated 66 tests in all, the last of which was in 1996. However, his final match was between two county sides in 1998. The likes of Dickie Bird, with all his quirky mannerisms and sense of humor, are a rare occurrence on the cricket field.
2. Nitin Menon:
Nitin Menon’s cricketing career was primarily restricted to the Indian domestic circuit, and he decided to take on the role of an umpire and make it his profession. He made his international debut as an umpire in a T20I match held at Kanpur in 2017 between India and England. The opportunity to officiate at a test match came two years later, in December 2019.
He had the honor of being inducted into the Emirates ICC International Panel of Umpires in 2016-17. According to India Today, Menon was only the third Indian in the Emirates ICC Elite Panel of Umpires after Srinivas Venkatraghavan and Sundaram Ravi.
3. David Shepherd:
David Shepherd started his playing career in first-class cricket and essayed the role of a middle-order batsman for Gloucestershire in county cricket. After finishing his playing career, he donned an umpire’s hat in 1981. His World Cup debut as an umpire came in 1983 in England, with Pakistan facing off against Sri Lanka at Swansea.
His first test match was the fourth test of the 1985 Ashes Series held at Old Trafford, Manchester. In all, he stood in 92 test matches, the last of which was June 2005. Adding to that tally were 172 one-day internationals, including 1996, 1999, and 2003 World Cup finals.
David Shepherd’s odd habit was lifting both his legs off the ground one after another every time the score reached the Nelson, as it was called. In a Nelson, the score would be 111 or its multiples (for example, 222, 333).
4. Steve Bucknor:
If David Shepherd had the Nelson as his trademark, the Jamaican umpire, Steve Bucknor, too, had a distinctive mannerism. He earned the nickname ‘Slow Death’ because he took an eternity to raise the fatal index finger that signaled a batsman was out. Steve Bucknor has officiated in the cricket and football World Cups and was a FIFA referee in a World Cup qualifier.
Bucknor stood in five World Cup Finals and 100 Test matches, including 14 Ashes tests. His first test was in 1988-89, and his 128th Test between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town in March 2009 was his last.
Bucknor’s last match as an umpire was an ODI between the West Indies and England. At the end of the match, both teams sent him off with a guard of honor.
5. Billy Bowden:
Complementing Steve Bucknor’s finger of death was Billy Bowden’s “crooked finger of doom.” Billy Bowden was a cricket umpire from New Zealand who used his crooked finger to dramatic effect when sending the batter back to the pavilion. His initiation as umpire was in March 1995 at Hamilton, where New Zealand took on Sri Lanka in a One-Day International.
His first test match as an umpire was in March 2000, and in 2002 he was admitted into the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires. Billy Bowden was the youngest ever umpire to officiate in 100 ODIs, precisely twenty years after his first match in 1995. After induction to the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, Bowden officiated a further 82 test matches, 192 ODIs, and 21 T20 matches.
6. Simon Taufel:
Simon Taufel got his first opportunity to play the role of Umpire at the One Day International (ODI) held on January 13, 1999, in Sydney between Australia and Sri Lanka. He was 27 when he stood for his first match.
In December 2000, he oversaw his first Test match on Boxing Day Test between Australia and the West Indies in Melbourne.
Taufel was assured of his place in cricketing history when he won the ICC Umpire of the Year Award for the fifth time in a row in 2008. When he retired in 2012, his final tally was 174 One Day Internationals, 34 T20 Internationals, and 74 Test matches.
These umpires are just some of many familiar to the players and the audience alike for their quirks and mannerisms. They have officiated at the highest level of cricket as part of the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires and are also well known for holding themselves accountable to the highest standards of the game.