Who are the greatest umpires in cricket history?
Umpiring is a very difficult task in cricket, or indeed any sport. They are wholly criticised when making a mistake but hardly praised when they make a correct decision. With the introduction of DRS (Decision-Review-System), the Umpires are being put much more into the spotlight. The best cricket umpires of all-time are those that make the least mistakes in general.
For the purposes of this article, we are only considering on-field umpires and those who have had a distinguished career are more likely to be on top of the list, due to their longevity.
10. Daryl Harper
Daryl Harper retired from umpiring in 2011, after some controversy during the India vs West Indies Test series and his contract was terminated thereafter as well. Between 2002 and 2011, he was a part of the ICC’s Elite Panel of Umpiring, featuring in 94 Test matches and 174 ODIs.
9. Marais Erasmus
Marais Erasmus is currently one of the most respected umpires on the circuit. He was with the ICC as a senior Umpire since 2008, officiating in 64 Tests and 92 ODI’s till date. Having played First Class Cricket in South Africa, he has an edge over other umpires who have not participated in such high levels themselves.
8. Nigel Llong
Nigel Llong is an English umpire, who has officiated since 2005 in international cricket. Until June 2020, he was a part of the ICC’s Elite Panel of Umpires. Like Erasmus, Llong has played First Class Cricket himself, but in England. He also officiates in the Indian Premier League.
7. Ian Gould
Ian “Gunner” Gould was a former umpire in international cricket, having retired in 2019. He played 18 ODI’s for England, only managing to score 155 runs. However, he has been a fantastic umpire for many years. He was rejected by Arsenal Football Club for being too small and he was also involved in the 2018 Ball-Tampering Scandal in Cape Town.
Gould officiated his last ODI at Headingley in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, where he was given a standing ovation by Virat Kohli.
Daryll Harper, Marais Erasmus, Nigel Llong and Ian Gould are (numbers 10-7) on our list of best cricket umpires of all-time.
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6. David Shepherd
David Shepherd umpired in international cricket between1985 and 2005. His 92 Tests remain the most by any English umpire in history. He has also officiated in 172 ODI’s.
5. Billy Bowden
Billy Bowden is perhaps best known for his crooked finger that he often raises when giving a decision on the field. He is thought to have arthritis on that finger, which is why it is shaped in such a way. The New Zealander umpired in 84 Tests and 200 ODIs between 1995 and 2016.
He was one of the key umpires during the 2005 Ashes series, where England won 2-1 and regained the Urn for the first time in 18 years.
4. Rudi Koertzen
Rudi Koertzen is a former umpire, having stood for 108 Tests and 209 ODIs between 1992 and 2010. His slow raise of the “finger of death” was commonly seen when giving batsmen out. He was a very professional umpire, which meant that he rejected some bribes given to him to fix games.
David Shepherd, Billy Bowden and Rudi Koertzen are (numbers 6-4) on our list of best cricket umpires of all-time.
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3. Steve Bucknor
Steve Bucknor is perhaps one of the most controversial umpires of all-time. He officiated between 1989 and 2009, featuring in 128 Test matches and 181 ODI’s. Bucknor had umpired the most Test matches, until he was overtaken by Aleem Dar. He claims that his two mistakes in the Sydney Test match of 2008, may have cost India both the game and the series.
2. Aleem Dar
Aleem Dar has officiated in the most Test matches in the history of international cricket – 136. He is a very experienced umpire, who started in 2003 and is still one of the very best on the circuit. In ODI’s, Dar started in 2000 and his last game till date was in 2020 and his 211 ODI games as an umpire are also the most in the history of the format.
A cricket career that never took off, as a middle-order batsman and a leg-break bowler meant that he had to switch allegiances to becoming an umpire.
1. Dickie Bird
Harold Dennis Dickie Bird is the best umpire in cricket history. He also has the most fame, despite officiating in a lot less games than his compatriots. Dickie Bird was an international umpire between 1973 and 1996. His figure was well known by followers of the game across the world.
Respected by all that played during his time. Bird received a special standing ovation in 1996, after retiring from duties in the India vs England Test match at Lords in 1996. He was “married to the game.” in his own words. He has also written his own autobiography, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide. Plus, he has received both an MBE in 1986 and an OBE in 2012 for his work in both cricket and charity.
Steve Bucknor, Aleem Dar and Dickie Bird are (numbers 3-1) on our list of best cricket umpires of all-time.
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