Umpiring in cricket is a critical job. You just do not have any option to fail. Accuracy and swift decision-making ability make good umpires. The game has seen quite a few good umpires since the inception.
Here we have listed five umpires who have taken the skill of umpiring to a different level.
Wisden mentioned him as the “youngest professional regularly engaged in first-class cricket’’ in 1913 when Frank Chester was playing for Worcestershire in first-class cricket. He was an all-rounder and played 55 first-class matches from 1912-1914. During this time he scored 108 against Somerset and became the youngest player at that time to score a county century, a record unbroken till 1950’s. Chester volunteered in the first World War and lost his right arm in 1917. This ended his cricket playing career but his love for cricket made him choose to umpire. He debuted as an umpire in 1922 in a first-class county match. He used an artificial arm to make the necessary signals during umpiring. His first test match was in 1924 between England and South Africa. By the time he retired in 1955, he stood in over 1000 first-class matches and 48 test matches which was a record till Dickie Bird broke it. Don Bradman went on record to honor Chester as the best umpire he had played under.
His autobiography named ‘My Autobiography’ went on to sell more than a million copies. He was given ‘guard of honor’ in his last test in 1996 at Lord’s by Indian and England cricket team. He is Dickie Bird. Born as Harold Dennis Bird, ‘Dickie Bird’ failed to continue his first love football due to an injury and started to play cricket at county level. Finally, he took to umpiring and became famous for the numbers. He debuted in 1973 as an umpire and officiated in 66 Tests which was a record at that time; 54 of those were in England. Bird was awarded the Member of the Order of British Empire in 1983 and Order of British Umpire in 2012.
David Shepherd began as a first-class cricketer and played county cricket for 14 years for Gloucestershire. A member of the 1983 World Cup umpiring panel, David Shephard debuted as an umpire in the 1985 Ashes. This bubbly umpire was famous for his fun-loving nature. He was widely known for his posture of standing on one leg whenever a team reached 111. He umpired in 92 test matches and 172 ODIs, which included World Cup finals in 1996, 1999 and 2003. He was nominated to the elite panel of umpires by the ICC in 2002, and that was the first time of such a proposal implemented by the council. He retired from umpiring in 2005 and dies at the age of 68 after suffering from lung cancer.
One of the best cricket umpires of all time, Simon James Arthur Taufel moved to umpiring after his failed career as a fast bowler due to a back injury. His progress had been impressive since the beginning. At 24 he was umpiring at the Australian first-class cricket, and in just three years time he made an international debut. His first ODI was in 1999 between Australia and Sri Lanka at Sydney and he appeared for his first test umpiring on the Boxing Day in 2000 between Australia and West Indies. It was his accuracy and decision making ability that won him five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year award between 2004 and 2008. He got chance to appear as one of the on-field umpires during the 2011 World Cup final. Taufel retired from international cricket in 2012 and took the role of ICC’s Umpire Performance and Training Manager. He umpired in 74 tests, 174 ODIs and 34 T20s.
As a first-class cricketer of Pakistan Aleem Dar couldn’t do justice to his playing career. But as an umpire, he is arguably one of the best of his generation. Aleem Das started umpiring at the age of 32 in 2000 and debuted in an ODI match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. His test debut was in October 2003 between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. His performance made him an early entrant to the ICC elite panel. His flawless accuracy was recognized in 2011 world cup when he made 15 consecutive correct decisions. He won ICC Umpire of the Year award repeatedly thrice in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Aleem Dar has stood in more than 350 matches including matches of 2003, 2007 and 2011 world cups. Statistically, he holds the record of supervising the most number of international matches. No wonder that he did a hat-trick and won three consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards in 2009, 2010 and 2011.