Cheer the umpire

Updated: Oct 24 2004, 05:30am hrs
Across the world, cricket lovers cheer batsmen, bowlers and fielders, but umpires hardly get noticed. Dickie Bird was one whom the crowds couldnt afford to ignore. Piloo Reporter, was another, adored as PD in the cricketing fraternity. His unique signalling of a boundary, which noted commentator Henry Blofeld described as Milkshake, was perhaps the first instance of flamboyance creeping into the white-coat-wearing traditionalists bas- tion. As PD reveals in his autobiography, An Umpire Remembers, the Milkshake boundary signal was deliberately developed just to do the opposite of what his inspiration Mr Mamsa did with a very understated signal.

PD takes as much pride in becoming the first neutral umpire as he despises the term neutral. Every umpire, irrespective of whether his home team is playing in a game being supervised by him, is neutral. Considering the flamboy- ant nature of the man, one would have expected a lot of spicy stuff in the book. PD does so, to a great extent, but he cuts short the narration in many instances.

On the whole, PDs autobiography recollects how a man with limited cricketing abilities, but obsessed with the game, dumped the childhood ambition of becoming a star cricketer for a more realistic goal of being in the game by becoming an umpire.

Compiled by Devendra Prabhudesai;
Rupa & Co; Pp 187; Rs 295
What stands out though is PDs love for the appreciation expressed on a job well done. Be it by former India stumper Madhav Mantri in his first Kanga League Division A match in 1965 or by Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd and Colin Cowdrey after the 1989 Nehru Cup final. PD fondly remembers the words, Good job, umps.