Home > Features > Moments in history >

David Shepherd — The man who hopped his way to the top as an umpire

David Shepherd — The man who hopped his way to the top as an umpire

A unique trait of David Shepherd’s that will forever be etched in the minds of cricket viewers is his hopping at the sight of ‘Nelson’ on the scoreboard © Getty Images

David Shepherd, born December 27, 1940, was one of the finest umpires the cricketing world had ever seen. He officiated in six World Cups, from 1983 to 2003, and was seldom known to make a poor decision. Karthik Parimal looks back at the career of this brilliant umpire, who will fondly be remembered for his hop at the sight of Nelson on the scoreboard.

David Shepherd was by far the most loved and respected umpire to have graced international cricket. To maintain a pleasant, jovial relationship with a majority of the cricketers, especially when he was around for almost 22 years, speaks volumes of the man’s ability to arouse admiration. Seldom did he commit blunders, and on the rare occasions that he did, the players were quick to forgive. Even fierce competitors like Curtly Ambrose and David Boon had kind words to offer when Shepherd officiated in their respective last games, and that shows the high regard he was held in. Such was the aura he created.

Although Shepherd never played a Test, he was a prominent personality on the county circuit. On his debut for Gloucestershire in 1965, he scored a century against Oxford University. He soon became an important fixture in a team that boasted the likes of Mike Procter and Zaheer Abbas. He represented his county for a good thirteen years and added eleven more centuries to the tally, before finishing with over 10000 first-class runs to his name. Shepard’s most memorable moment during his playing days would have come when he scored a brilliant 153 against Middlesex at Bristol. Also, he was a part of the Gloucestershire team that won the Gillette Cup in 1973 and the Benson & Hedges Trophy in 1977 at Lords.

Shepherd first officiated in a One-Day International (ODI) during the 1983 World Cup in a game that involved Pakistan and Sri Lanka. He made his Test debut as an umpire two years later in the fourth match of the 1985 Ashes series. Incidentally, Shepherd’s final Test had Pakistan as one of the teams, and his last ODI was that between England and Australia at The Oval in 2005. In 22 years, Shepherd had overseen 92 Tests and 172 ODI matches. He officiated in six World Cups, inclusive of three finals, a feat that is second to none. By 2009, only Steve Bucknor and Rudi Koertzen had surpassed his total in Tests.

David Shepherd — The man who hopped his way to the top as an umpire

Although Shepherd is known to be a gentle character both on and off the field, he never once hesitated in taking a firm stance when it came to the former if need be © Getty Images

Although Shepherd is known to be a gentle character both on and off the field, he never once hesitated in taking a firm stance when it came to the former if need be. Not many can forget how Waqar Younis was severely reprimanded by him for bowling a dangerous line to Andrew Symonds during the 2003 World Cup. It’s something the umpires are eventually forced to do at one point or another. “I like to think I have a pleasant, at times jovial, relationship with the cricketers. But there have to be limits. I’ve had stern words with famous players. Once at Edgbaston I needed to lecture Mike Atherton when I felt he was sledging Sachin Tendulkar,” Shepherd told ESPNCricinfo.

However, such instances have fortunately been few and far between in Shepherd’s umpiring career, primarily because the respect he doles out to the players is often reciprocated. Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara aptly described Shepherd’s presence in the middle when he said, “He was always a thorough gentleman, courteous and one of the best umpires the game has seen. It was always a pleasure to have him during the game because he didn’t have abrupt and rough manner with players; he was willing to explain why he made his decision the way he did. He was very direct, honest and straightforward with the players – that’s one of the best qualities about him.

A unique trait of Shepherd’s that will forever be etched in the minds of cricket viewers is his hopping at the sight of ‘Nelson’ on the scoreboard. Whenever a team’s score arrived at 111, or on one of its multiples, Shepherd would hop on one leg every few seconds until a run had been added. Having been brought up in Instow, England, it’s a superstition that has stayed with him ever since his club-cricket days and, he once stated that he’d be horrified to miss a Nelson or a Double Nelson.

At the age of 68, four years after he retired from umpiring in international cricket, Shepherd passed away after a long battle with cancer. The cricketing world paid rich tribute to the man who was widely adored and respected, and although there have been some fairly good umpires after him, it can safely be said that David Shepherd’s presence in the middle remains unparalleled.

(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/karthik_parimal)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Mohali

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Mohali

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 18, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 5 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 17, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 3 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014  at Raipur

Northern Knights won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014  at Raipur

Lahore Lions won by 55 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 14, 2014  at Raipur

Mumbai Indians won by 9 wkts

Photos

West Indies vs Bangladesh, 2nd Test at Gros Islet

Videos

Anderson plays golf with Jaguar competition winners

Sourav Ganguly: Hope India-Pakistan cricket starts soon

Cape Cobras (CC) vs Northern Knights (NK) CLT20 2014 Match 3: Cape Cobras’ likely XI

Cape Cobras (CC) vs Northern Knights (NK) CLT20 2014 — Key battles

Herbert Chang: The Jamaican of Chinese origin who wasted his life in South Africa

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes (HH) in CLT20 2014 – Highlights

Champions League T20 Champions League T20 2014 Chennai Super Kings CLT20 CLT20 2014 CSK vs KKR Hobart Hurricanes Kings XI Punjab Kings XI Punjab vs Hobart Hurricanes KKR vs CSK Kolkata Knight Riders Mumbai Indians Northern Knights Pakistan West Indies

Yorkshire support Andrew Gale in the light of racism allegations

CLT20 2014: George Bailey promises better show

Thin crowd response in opening CLT20 tie at Mohali

Javed Miandad says Pakistan can do well in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 without Saeed Ajmal

Glenn Maxwell, Thisara Perera guide Kings XI Punjab to 5-wicket victory against Hobart Hurricanes in CLT20 2014

Sourav Ganguly: Hope India-Pakistan cricket starts soon

Cape Cobras (CC) vs Northern Knights (NK) CLT20 2014 Match 3: Cape Cobras’ likely XI

Cape Cobras (CC) vs Northern Knights (NK) CLT20 2014 — Key battles

Herbert Chang: The Jamaican of Chinese origin who wasted his life in South Africa

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes (HH) in CLT20 2014 – Highlights

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

636 Posts | 8 Fans

Video highlights: Ander Russell 58 for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CLT20 2014

Motorola Moto 360 gets listed on Flipkart

Heart disease in India — 6 shocking facts you should know

Humsafars producer: The women in my team convinced me to cast Harshad Chopda

Apple modifies iPhones, iPads access without user authorization

Khoobsurat movie review: Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan’s fairytale is insanely cute!

Expert tips to reduce stress and keep your heart healthy

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here