The Life of an Umpire

Cricket Umpire
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In the gentleman’s sport of cricket, it would not be complete without the humble man in a white coat and hat, watching over the game.

In fact, there are two on each end of the pitch- this helps to get a greater scope of what is going on. Thanks to new technology a third umpire settles off the field- and has many resources and tools to make a final informed decision- tools like the snick-o-meter, which records the sound of the ball hitting the bat. And ball tracing which follows the path of the ball to see where it would end up, to determine if it would hit the wicket.

Unlike a referee that just implements the rules and runs around and blows whistles. An Umpire on the other hand has more responsibility; they inspect the equipment, choose which balls to play with, decide the duration of breaks during a match, judge whether the crease is up to standard, Umpires can even call off matches due to weather and bad lighting and even fine players for misconduct.

There is no doubt cricket has had a facelift. Long are the days where overweight hairy men would bowl and bat and most of the crowd would fall asleep. See my article on “How T20 cricket revolutionised cricket”  With the introduction of T20 cricket, the format encourages sponsors, partnerships, and shares of ownership are bought by corporations. Just like a dragon’s den situation. In return, they get a huge audience as potential customers. Therefore millions and millions are invested, this adds more pressure for the Umpires.

They face serious sticks and sometimes get their lives threatened if they make a decision that does not agree with the fans. Thankfully the third umpire can lighten the load by taking some of the blame, but some fans still don’t see it like that. With the responsibilities and in some cases lives at stake. Umpires get compensated for their time at 100 thousand dollars a year. This works out at 3k per ODI match 5k for a test match 1.5k for a T20 match and 3k for ICC Tournament. All of this and not much attention is given to Umpires outside of the pitch.

The life of an umpire is hard, with over 200 days of work abroad a year, it would make it difficult to raise a family. It was this precise reason why the legendary Umpire Dickie Bird was never married. He wrote an autobiography that sold millions of copies, he was knighted and had a statue made of him with the famous finger. Dickie bird had it all-but the biggest regret is not being married. He said he was married to cricket and got very close but decided otherwise.

Aleem Dar from Pakistan is one of the most experienced umpires in the game. With over 100 test matches and over 200 ODI matches, under his belt and winning umpire of the year 3 times in a row. His house is decorated with trophies and pictures of himself with cricketers and Bollywood film stars. This success is due to accurate decisions, Aleem dar can tell if a ball traveling over 80mph has kissed the bat or not. This is even before the third umpire looked at the cameras. Aleem is over 50 years of age, supports a beard, and has a wife and two kids. Yet his expertise is still in demand. Aleem Dar is part of the elite panel of umpires. This consists of umpires from all over the world to officiate in Test matches and ODI matches.

The Covid 19 epidemic has affected the world, many people are suffering and many competitions have been put on hold. Pakistan was one of the first countries to be hit. However, Aleem Darr felt the need to kindly distribute free food from his restaurant “Darr’s delighto” in Lahore.

So next time you watch a cricket game remember that being an umpire is not as easy as it looks, it involves a lot of responsibility and dedication. Some have regrets whilst others have managed and wouldn’t change a thing.

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