Calcutta: David Shepherd, a member of the ICC’s Elite Panel, feels the pressure has increased on umpires since its inception. “It is really tiring for two umpires to adjudicate for a whole series. So, the percentage of errors can go up,” Shepherd said.
He thinks there has to be more than eight umpires for the successful running of the Panel. “We need at least 12, that will perhaps give all of them the sufficient amount of rest.”
Shepherd added this panel offers limited scope for juniors. “It doesn’t give enough exposure for the junior umpires. Moreover, the scope is limited in one-day Internationals as well with only one umpire outside the top panel getting the chance.” He, however, feels that the Elite Panel should be given a fair trial before coming into any final decision.
Shepherd is not against the use of technology for judging “line decisions”. “I feel the use of technology in the Champions Trophy in Colombo has been a huge success.”
He said the extent of saying that he doesn’t mind if the umpire becomes redundant one day. “If to have an error-free game, we don’t need an umpire some day, I don’t have any problem.”
But he added that it should always be kept in mind that the flow of the game isn’t being hampered. “The authorities should see to it that too much time is not wasted for making a decision. That mars the flow of the game.”
Talking about the Match Referee’s role in the game, Shepherd said: “I think it’s a very good step. It has seen to the fact that the players don’t lose their head on the field.” Shepherd is against television screens on the ground showing replays. “If someone gives a wrong decision and it’s shown over and over on the screen, it does create a pressure on the umpire.”
When asked whether he regrets any wrong decision in his 21-year career, the veteran umpire said: “All the wrong ones. And I can assure you, I have done many mistakes. But I can assure you, all of them have been honest decisions and I have tried to evolve a better umpire from each wrong one I have given.”
He also felt that the umpiring in the sub-continent is one of the toughest assignments, if not the most. “It’s totally different adjudicating at home. But here, with such wonderful spinners around and the close catchers shouting, it does become difficult.”
Asked about plans of retirement, Shepherd said: “I’m 62 and it may be sometime in the near future.”