The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shepherd: We get just that one chance

Hyderabad: It’s not easy for umpires these days. They are under constant scrutiny of magnified and replayed TV images and each fault gets magnified whenever it occurs.

David Shepherd, for one, isn’t complaining. The 63-year-old Englishman has officiated in 75 Tests and “130-odd ODIs”. He admits even he makes mistakes, but doesn’t blame the accentuated use of technology for his faults getting noticed.

“It’s difficult these days no doubt. We are judged not just by players but also by the viewers. In earlier days, only players could tell how bad or good umpires were,” the veteran and respected umpire said on Friday, the eve of the needle contest between India and New Zealand in the ongoing tri-series.

“You see, there are replays after replays for the viewers. We get just that one chance to judge what exactly is happening,” said the portly former Gloucestershire batsman. “You see, I had to be a batsman, being a bowler in my shape was not possible,” Shepherd grinned.

“But if all this helps the game it’s fine. Line calls, for example, are better judged by TV umpires and no doubt, it has helped all concerned. Mistakes by umpires, however, are normal to occur. Every human being makes errors.”

But Shepherd didn’t agree that referring leg-before decisions to TV umpires would help. “I am sure technology has advanced, but not too sure about the extent of this advancement. I am not convinced that all that is shown in the form of TV graphics is accurate. The hawk-eye, as a case in point, does not always give you the true picture,” he told The Telegraph.

Shepherd said he religiously watches replays once the match is over. “I see what I have done, how I have fared. And I do regret it when I see myself making errors. Regrets are there, but I won’t tell you which are the ones!”

Shepherd made clear that increasing the number of umpires from eight to 11 on the ICC’s elite panel has made it easier for those on it. “It was very tight, if you take into account the fatigue factor…So much of travelling, in different conditions. It’s good to have 11 rather than eight and the fact the umpires from the international panel are also being called to officiate helps.”

He revealed that officiating in India is one of the toughest. “The crowd can make so much of noise that it becomes difficult to concentrate at times. Almost every time, there is this incredible amount of sound.

“Also, with so many close-in catchers in position in almost every match here, it becomes difficult to rule on bat-pad verdicts. In England, in comparison, there are seldom so many men catching around the bat. It makes an umpires job that much easier there.”

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