There was a lot of criticism about the standard of umpiring going down in World of Cricket. To err is human but to err on a line call when replays are there is a blunder. It is usually said that the line belongs to the umpire and even the third umpire err at times, which includes pressing the red button instead of a green button to cause a stir. If an International umpire fails, he gets blacklisted and removed from the elite panel of umpires. At the same time, when an umpire is doing extremely well in a particular season, then he is rewarded by the ICC in its annual function.
An umpire is the only single person who, alone can make or ruin a game of cricket. If he makes it, your average cricketer takes the fact for granted. If he ruins it, your cricketer grumbles, forgetting that, for far too long, cricketers have paid too little attention to the umpiring of their matches. Players have only half knowledge about DRS but they make big cry all the time. Just like batting, bowling, and fielding, umpiring also play a crucial role in deciding the course of the match. As an umpire of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, I was able to officiate matches at Delhi, Chennai, Coimbatore, and Mumbai. Umpiring is a thankless job but at the same time, it is a very interesting profession also.
It is quite imperative to note that players learn by experience. When Gary Sobers was asked to follow-on in West Indies in a match curtailed by rain for four days, the leeway ought to be 150 runs and not 200 runs as in the case of a five-day game to enforce a follow on. Gary was surprised but quickly learned from the mistake. Geoff Boycott was once caught red-handed for not knowing a basic rule in Australia. Hit wicket rule is misconstrued and misused as well. My brother was given out hit wicket when he was in the process of taking a run and the bat accidentally fell on the wicket. That compelled him to learn the Laws of the Game and he became one of the first-rate umpires in DDCA. It is all in the game. At times, umpires are forced to give decision so that an outright win can be possible to attain points in a league game. Again, if you give a star batsman out LBW, the fielding side will look at you with a strange look as though you committed a murder.
An umpire should be professional in the best sense of the word “phlegmatic, unobtrusive, dignified, courteous of absolute integrity and very much prepared to discharge his duties fearlessly and impartially. The good umpire is dedicated to the task of conducting a game so that the players get the utmost enjoyment from it. This needs the highest possible standard of umpiring and he devotes a portion of his leisure to studying, refreshing debating points of law and reinterpretation and improving his technique in every way seeking to ensure that he becomes a master of his craft. The finest umpires are those who appear to make the fewest mistakes. Even our best umpires can be mistaken in fact, but the possibility of errors may be reduced by acquiring a thorough knowledge of the Laws of the Game and by unremitting concentration.
Once I was officiating a TNCA League match at Chennai and some of the team’s members were considered to be showing rough behaviour and go the extent of beating opposite team players and umpires with cycle chain if something goes wrong against their wishes. As the match ended, the notorious team captain lost the match but shook hands with me for my exemplary standard of umpiring. That saved me the day as the match went up to the mandatory overs stage. Umpiring is really a thankless job. Reading more books on cricket umpiring and attending a seminar on umpiring at the highest level and going through cricket umpiring question answers will help you to learn the finer points of umpiring.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)