Umpires are not just the pair of on-field guys standing in the 22 yards under pressure of making right decisions for the fruitful result in any cricket match. In fact, Umpires are a group of guys that maintains the Law and playing conditions of Cricket councils, boards, associations and stake holder’s along with the players, teams and coaches involved in it. They are available in the form of TV umpire/ third umpire, on field umpires, Match referees or Match officials to maintain disciplines in the game and are an inseparable part of cricket. As a game of cricket is improving day by day in technology and short format being loved by most of the global crowds, umpiring is getting much more challenging mentally rather than physically as mentioned by lot of Cricket pundits.
Umpire’s Decision Is The Last Decision
Let us go back at some of the past memories about umpiring and its effect on cricketing result. The first thing that comes in mind when remembering the umpires in the past is “Umpire’s Decision is the last Decision”. A quiet familiar sentence you would hear before the start of any game or any format in Cricket. It changed the course of many games. The fate of a cricket match seeking results would definitely be in one particular cricketing decision given by umpire that would turn down as a game changer if it is mistaken by any individual umpire attached with that particular game.
Long before when TV umpires were not a part of the game, umpiring decisions was solely in the hand of on-field umpires carrying a lot of pressure and burden to themselves. They watched each ball closely till the stumps bowled by any Bowlers and maintained discipline among the 11 oppositions and 2 batsmen in the middle. We could easily feel about the difficulty they faced in the 60’s and 70’s with the giant members of West indies, Pakistan, England and Australia with most of the players above 6ft tall, long hairs and gigantic postures. One name that comes into mind remembering 70’s umpiring, Dickie bird, a short postured umpire who had such a huge respect for the game. He was humorous and very punctual. A strong hearted decision maker, which earned him huge respect in the cricketing fraternity then and still he is remember for some brave decision that he made in the cricket ground.
Umpiring has served the cricketing culture in the past like handling the players for any physical push, sledge or verbal fighting. To stand more than 5 hours with a bent back in the past, to give a decision on the go with the single frame provided and appeals all around the field was always a tough ask for any umpires in the past. Even players were not allowed to raise their bat to indicate any inside edge. Bowlers could hardly question about the harsh decision if made by umpires. So it was more pressure as their decision was irrevocable and would directly affect the course of any game. And as crowd were directly involved and an open place without any restrictions, umpiring was a dismal task in the past compared to present days of cricket.
In an article of The Telegraph in 2013 as mentioned in www.telegraph.co.uk, the funnier part of the old days umpire especially Dickie bird could be read in the article that mentioned how involved the umpires used to be and what farsightedness they carried to the game. Not a lot has changed regarding the physical stress what the umpires had in the cricket field. But the involvement of technology has given much more help to learn from their mistakes quickly there on the spot.
DRS and “The Future of Umpiring”
The introduction of the DRS still proves that if the infield umpire gives the decision out most of the time it is correct as 95% of the decision since the introduction of DRS has been a substantial prove of the importance of Umpires on the field. In a recent interview by Simon Taufel to www.cricinfo.com , Taufel stated that,” DRS is rather umpire friendly and the umpires could learn a lot from it at an instant so that they would not repeat the same mistake again and again.” In fact he talks about how former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healey has inspired him with his words that switching on and off after every over is switching the energy levels up and down in a cricket field for the umpires who have very less rest during the matches as a wicketkeeper could only complement the situation.
“Taufel currently is in the Elite members of Umpires of ICC but is still learning and inspiring young talents to come up and lead from the front”
According to him, age barriers won’t bother the leadership quality and learning wish of any individual team. If you are physically fit, mentally tough and cope up good with the game of cricket nothing is much more enjoying than being an ICC umpire.
Although, apart from Simon Taufel, Aleem dar, Rudy Koertzen, Billy Bowden, Kumar Dharmasena, David Shephard has come up to the scene and has played an important part under pressure of spider cams, GoPro, DRS , hotspot and Snicko. They have proved that the culture of umpire will remain until the game remains in this earth. Cricket marching along must take umpires too towards development so that the culture of umpire, players and their respect and affection with each other makes the cricketing culture alive, the classic and archive of Cricket must be modified, upgraded but should never extinct.
The pressure that the umpires handle should be praised and more youngsters should be trained to join the panels in umpiring for the evolution of young talents in umpiring. This would definitely save the culture of Umpiring in cricket and as a whole Cricket itself would be lively.