Humble television sets have indeed changed the umpires and in the hustle bustle of IPL they are coming up with innovative mannerisms to have the footage on them even after the match is over. In yesterday’s match between Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders, when Ashok Dinda was playing and he appealed for caught behind against Virender Sehwag, the umpire Rudy Kirstein was at his theatrical best. He was in the process of raising her finger to declare Veeru out, then stylishly he put the finger in his pocket, and then with a swagger in his posture, he gave a comic look to Dinda. He also gave him a sneering look and bluntly told that Sehwag was not out.
Compare this scenario with the good old days, when umpires were devoid of emotions and were happy in just declaring a batsman out; otherwise it was all deadpan expression. Interest in the art of umpiring to a great extent was created with advent of Dickie Bird who used to be animated in his mannerism and that was the reason he was among the first celebrity umpires. David Shepherd who had certain superstitions that he displayed during umpiring followed him. Whenever a batsman reached 111 or Nelsen, or a team’s score reached 111 Shepherd would start dancing on his toes till the score moved to 112.
But this was the time when television still was in infancy as far as discovering cricket as a money making machine was concerned. Umpires really moved into the zone of theatrics in a big way after the advent of Billy Bowden from New Zealand. He introduced his own style of umpiring, be declaring a batsman out, or declaring a boundary. His crooked finger of right hand became his trademark, and whenever Billy Bowden henceforth does the umpiring, he also gets same amount of footage as the cricket players on the field.
Billy Bowden could introduce mannerism probably owing to the fact that he was a cricket player earlier, and could understand the pressure for a fielder and a batsman in the field. His mannerisms seems to be an effort to reduce the tension and create an atmosphere of congeniality.
But one thing is for sure that with the advent of IPL umpires on the field have started dressing up smartly and are cultivating mannerism that would make them stand out from the crowd and provide them the footage along with the players in the same proportion.
By: Suman Rai