Bangalore: Apr 19, 2013
Dickie Bird is the face of cricket umpiring and a role model for umpires worldwide. He umpired for nearly three decades.
Recently Bird picked his Test XI for a British daily, ahead of his 80th birthday which is on Friday. His batting line-up won’t have Donald Bradman, Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara. The top 10-run getters in Test cricket are all missing from Bird’s team.
Imran Khan will be the captain of the side. His knowledge of cricket “was outstanding” according to Bird. Sunil Gavaskar is the only Indian to feature in the side; since he was one of the two best opening batsmen the umpire had seen.
Barry Richards and Greame Pollock, whose careers were curtailed by the apartheid, are the South Africans who are in the side. Three Australians: Dennis Lillee, Shane Warne and Greg Chappell have made the cut, while Garfield Sobers, Vivian Richards and off-spinner Lance Gibbs are the West Indians who are in the list. Alan Knott was chosen as the wicketkeeper.
The famed West Indian fast bowlers of the yesteryear are all missing in the list. Michael Holding, Andy Robers, Colin Croft and Joel Garner’s exploits in the late 1970s were not good enough for them to earn the spot. No one from the Indian spin quartet, comprising Bishen Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna, S Venkataraghvan and BS Chandrasekhar, has made it in the umpire’s playing XI.
The choice of the captain is also interesting considering the impact of Clive Lloyd or Mike Brearley as the leaders of West Indies and England respectively.
“You can’t buy respect, you have to earn it,” Bird was quoted as saying in The Times of India. “And I can honestly tell you I had not one problem with any professional cricketer. If I go to Pakistan, Imran Khan and Javed Miandad invite me round for a meal at their place. If I go to Australia the first man to ring me is Dennis Lillee. If I go to West Indies, the first man on the phone will be Garfield Sobers, the greatest that’s ever lived. You’ll never see another like him, not in your lifetime,” Bird was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
Bird admitted that his heart still belonged to the game of cricket. It is still the greatest game in the world according to the legendary umpire.
Dickie Bird’s Test XI: Sunil Gavaskar, Barry Richards, Viv Richards, Greg Chappell, Graeme Pollock, Garfield Sobers , Allan Knott (wk), Imran Khan (c), Shane Warne, Dennis Lilliee, Lance Gibbs.
Also on cricketcountry.com