Let’s Talk about Umpiring

Everyone loves the sport – it can be anyone – and wants to be a player, a big player, who represents the country at various levels. However, there are very few who dreams of contributing the sport in a different way, with the way of umpiring. This blog covers the job aspects of those personal, who have decided to contribute to the game of cricket by officiating the matches.

Not an Easy Job

In my childhood, I would envy those international umpires. It doesn’t take too much running, and you control the game. Not just the game, but those star cricketers as well. They’ll do as an umpire say. I mean, isn’t that fun? What does it take to be a cricket umpire? Play some cricket (not necessarily though), pass some exams and you are there. After many years, I realized that it isn’t actually that easy after all. It takes ages and ages of experience, book full of rules in your mind and yes, hardly a mistake. Make a single mistake and you start attracting negative attention.  I realized these difficulties when I started playing professional cricket. It isn’t the easiest job after all.

Demands Courage and Concentration

It takes courage and a lot of concentration to be an umpire in the game of cricket. An umpire has to concentrate ball after ball, even from the position of the leg umpire. A small lapse of concentration and you are a news tomorrow morning. A small mistake can turn matches on to its head, especially in those crunch moments which decides the game. It takes courage to stand there and control the game, make decisions, and face the criticism.

On the final ball of the 2019 IPL final, umpire Nitin Menon had to decide whether the batsman is LBW. The historical moment of the tournament depended on his split-second decision, and he made the right one. Unfortunately, no one lauded his decision. However, umpire S Ravi made a mistake of missing a no-ball in the game between RCB and MI and he was criticized by one and all.

Job Stress

An umpire’s life is being lived out of a suitcase.  It is about living away from home for a longer period of time, which is stressful. As an individual, Umpire pays a heavy cost of living away from the home. The individual has to be fit all the time, else lapse of concentration is guaranteed. With the introduction of T20 cricket, umpires are facing the danger of injuries due to audacious and powerful hitting of the leather cherry.

Use of Technology

Use of technology in the sport is nothing new, but its extensive use is a concern. At times, it makes the umpiring job tough than supporting it. The missed or wrong decisions are being shown immediately on large screens. The DRS (Decision Review System) has the power to overturn umpire’s decision. At times, that puts a lot of pressure on the umpire’s mind during that split second. That I think is taking its toll on run time decision making.

However, technology is aiding the umpires, to make the game better. Umpire can shout help from the third umpire for the doubtful decisions (except LBW). In the case of no-ball doubts, the third umpire’s consultancy can be asked for. In fact, the best one is of LBW decision being retained even if the ball just about clips the stump. This brings confidence to decision making.

Some Legendary Umpires:

1. Dickie Bird (England) 2. David Shepherd (England) 3. Steve Bucknor (West Indies) 5. S. Venkataraghavan(India) 6. Simon Taufel (Australia) 7. Rudi Koertzen (South Africa) 8. Billy Bowen (New Zealand) 9. Aleem Dar 10. Ian Gould (England)

Please feel free to add the names in comments if I’ve missed good umpires in the list.

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