“It’s not difficult to be impartial because most umpires are neutral. It doesn’t matter who the batsman is…”
Test cricket is the ultimate challenge even for umpires. Five days mean many pitch and weather changes. We have to take various factors into consideration when we do our homework.
Sometimes, players show displeasure at a decision. Every one has a right to be disappointed. There was one T20 match where I was the third umpire and one of the teams complained about some of my decisions. It hurt. I maintain, though, that all the decisions were correct.
By and large, players realise umpiring is a tough job and take decisions in their stride. Often, they compliment us. I was umpiring in a Ranji Trophy semifinal between Railways and Bengal. Sourav Ganguly was bowling and appealing a lot. In three or four overs, he made about seven appeals. I negated all. He knew I was right and after the last appeal, he patted my back. “Hope to see you in more matches,” he said.
I don’t remember my first verdict in international cricket. I do remember Kapil Dev bowling from my end and sending down an 11-ball over.
Watching the world’s best players is an umpire’s greatest reward. Though I saw many contemporary players, I enjoyed watching two oldies—Graeme Pollock and Barry Richards—the most. It was at the BSI World Masters in 1995. Even at that age, they hit the ball like a table tennis ball. And stole singles on eye contact.
We rarely feel like going to the loo in the middle of a session. It is a bit difficult in winter, though. We also don’t feel hungry during sessions.
Caught behinds, those where the edge is slight, are perhaps the most difficult to judge. Those down the leg side are even harder.
For umpires, a gentleman player is one who walks. Kumar Sangakkara and Adam Gilchrist are gentlemen.
It is not difficult to be impartial because most umpires are neutral. It does not matter to them who the batsman is. Often, they do not know the score. The only thing that matters is the right decision.
Very few umpires have fans. (The late) David Shepherd perhaps did. I met him once. We had a cup of tea at the Taj in Mumbai.
(This umpire was on the International Cricket Council’s international umpires’ panel )