Sad news yesterday that David Shepherd lost his battle with cancer.
A top bloke and great umpire throughout his career in the white coat, an ump that everyone in the game respected, as he umped the game with an authority built on a jovial smile and a joke.
Suppose he’ll ultimately be remembered by most for the little hops when the score was on Nelson, an idiosyncrasy that added to the charm of the man and the game, built out years of superstition that cricketers build up and not some stupid affectation of others. Whereas Shep did it to “help” either side from losing a wicket, it wasn’t to the detriment of the game – who could forget Courtney Walsh hopping along with him – or to get his phizog in the limelight such as others. Shep being an old pro of a player knew that the fans were there to see the players not the officials, unlike a certain Billy Bowden.
And how many officials in modern sport would fret so much over getting decisions wrong as Shep did after the England v Pakistan game at Old Trafford in 2001, when he incorrectly gave out three English batsmen after the Pakistan bowlers had over stepped the crease for no-balls. How many would be so disappointed that they would be seriously thinking of packing it all in? Shep did, but was thankfully talked out of it by those that knew it he was too good at the job to go out on such a sad note.
After a pretty handy county playing career it was followed by 22 years at the top, overseeing 92 Tests and 172 one-day internationals, as an ump. The kind of figure and character we probably won’t see the like of again on the field of play.