Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Farewell, David Shepherd
As a cricket fanatic since childhood, I was very sad to learn today that David Shepherd has died from lung cancer at the age of 68. He will always be associated in my mind with many of the high and low points of English test cricket, particularly in the 1980s. He was standing when Viv Richards kicked off the famous 1984 "Blackwash" tour with a breathtaking 189 not out in the first ODI (next highest score: Eldine Baptiste's 26!); he was standing in 1985 when David Gower's England retained the Ashes in the 5th test at Edgbaston (Gower, 215); and he was standing when the inevitable Aussie backlash began in 1989 with the humiliating defeat of England, once again led by David Gower, at Leeds (Steve Waugh's tour average: 126.50!).
These are just a few memories I will cherish of a wonderful, colourful era for a sport I will always love. With David Shepherd's passing, to me in some ways with him finally pass those happy days. He was comfortably my favourite umpire, not least because he seemed to be such a jolly man, but mainly because he was absolutely outstanding at his work, though always unobtrusive in the execution. Of course his superstitions about "Nelson", with the wonderful little jig it always prompted, were great for the crowd, but the real reason why people loved him is that he was trusted and respected by absolutely everyone - players and spectators alike.
There can be no higher praise for an umpire, or, come to that, for any man. And few deserve it more than he.