Douglas3

Douglas Sang Hue, of Chinese decent and born October 28, 1931, was arguably the first great West Indian umpire. Sang Hue stood in 31 Tests and a solitary ODI several of them more eventful than what he would have wanted to and won accolades from across the world. Abhishek Mukherjee lists 12 facts about a champion from the pre-third-umpire era.

Steve Bucknor s stature as umpire reduced drastically in his later years, but he was a quality umpire in the 1990s. For over a decade his career coincided with Billy Doctrove, the West Indian to win second-most hats (is that a phrase?) in Test cricket.

Decades before them there was Douglas Sang Hue, a little man who garnered surprising respect from the men with massive frames that ruled West Indian cricket in the era. Astute and dignified, Sang Hue was extremely popular among touring sides as well.

He died in Kingston in 2014, aged 82. Jamaica Cricket Association named their umpires room after him. Listed are 12 points about the career of one of the most iconic umpires in history.

1. The little Colossus

When he called Sang Hue a Colossus, Tony Cozier almost certainly did not mean it literally. At a mere 5 4 ( no taller than a jockey, wrote Cozier), Sang Hue was almost always the shortest man on a Test ground. Tony Becca wrote in The Gleaner: Sang Hue was not a tall man, but in the field of umpiring, he was huge.

Andy Roberts explained it all in caribbeancricket.com: He was a small man, jockey-sized, but he stood his ground and took his place among men almost twice his size. He always had the confidence and respect of the players. As a player you always want to feel that the umpire is competent. He was one of the first umpires I ever saw who would give a decision as soon as it happened.

However, his smile was as disarming as permanent, and he won over cricketers to his side with remarkable ease.

2. The Chinaman

Sang Hue was of Chinese origin, and is one of two Test umpires of the same descent though Test cricketers Ellis Achong (it is assumed erroneously that Chinaman bowling is named after him) and Herbert Chang share the same distinction . The other umpire was Achong himself. Interestingly, all of them were West Indians.

Note: Another Chinese, the leg-spin-bowling all-rounder Rupert Tang Goon of Trinidad, came close to a Test cap. Unfortunately, he never played a Test, losing some of his best years during World War II.

3. The youngest

Douglas Sang Hue was 30 years 167 days old when he stood in his first Test, between West Indies and India at Kingston in 1961-62. West Indies completed a 5-0 whitewash over India in that Test.

Note: It is believed that the match was also Sang Hue s maiden First-Class match as umpire. This was untrue. He officiated in a match between Jamaica and the touring MCC two years before the Test.

No West Indian is yet to officiate in a Test at a younger age than Sang Hue. He broke the record of Kenneth Grant, who stood in a Test at 30 years 356 days in 1929-30. It is to be noted that the list excludes umpires whose dates of birth are unknown.

Sang Hue was also the seventh-youngest umpire to have officiated since World War II. The first name on the list belongs to Fred Goodall, a man West Indians are certainly not on best terms with.

4. The most prolific

The influx of neutral umpires led to lesser officials in Test cricket in the new millennium. As a result Bucknor stood in most Tests (128), followed by Doctrove (38) and Sang Hue (31).

However, Sang Hue s 31 Tests were all at home, which is the most for any Test umpire in West Indies. With 28 Tests David Archer came next, followed by Bucknor (26) and Ralph Gosein (25).

5. The full set

In the Frank Worrell Trophy of 1972-73, Sang Hue became the first umpire to stand in all 5 Tests of a series in West Indies. It was during this series that Ian Chappell called him best umpire in the world. He repeated the same in the Wisden Trophy a year later.

Why is this a major feat? For the uninitiated, inter-island rivalry was massive in West Indies in the early days when Barbados, Trinidad, and British Guiana (later Guyana) ruled cricket in the islands. Jamaica came to the fray later (it took time because of the distance), but once they were in it the tussle only worsened.

Consider the Sabina Park Test of 1929-30, for example, where four Jamaicans (Ivan Barrow, Oscar Da Costa, George Gladstone, and Charles Passailaigue) made their debuts together to join forces with four others from the island George Headley, Karl Nunes, Freddie Martin, and Tommy Scott. You get the drift.

The norm was to appoint umpires from the island in which the Test was played. However, Sang Hue s accuracy and stature made non-Jamaicans opt for him as well, that too for consecutive seasons. It was no minor achievement.

It must be mentioned here that umpiring in West Indies came with threats that were much more dangerous than inter-island rivalry. Dennis Lillee, who considered Sang Hue as one of the five greatest umpires (alongside Dickie Bird, Charlie Elliott, Dusty Rhodes, and Tommy Spencer), wrote in his autobiography Menace: Douglas Sang Hue was not much of a communicator but the respect was there because he made great decisions with no fear in front of crowds who might and did riot. He made honest decisions against West Indies knowing he could be going home to a pile of ashes instead of a house. That requires commitment and guts.

Note: The only other West Indians to have achieved this are Gosein (Frank Worrell Trophy, 1977-78) and Archer (Frank Worrell Trophy, 1983-84).

6. Beyond the islands

Such was Sang Hue s reputation that he was asked to officiate in the English summer of 1977. Not only that, he was also a part of Kerry Packer s World Series cricket, standing in 11 SuperTests (including the 1978-79 final) and 8 limited-overs matches.

7. Riot at Kingston

As mentioned above, Sang Hue had one of the most eventful of Test careers. Let us start with the Sabina Park Test against England in 1967-68 (he stood in 3 Tests in that series).

England were bowled out for 376, captain Colin Cowdrey scoring 101 and Wes Hall taking 4 for 63. Then John Snow ripped the heart out of the hosts, running through them with 7 for 49 and bowling them out for 143.

Following-on, West Indies reached 204 for 4. Then Basil Butcher leg-glanced his namesake D Oliveira, and Jim Parks Jr came up with a diving catch. Sang Hue ruled him out.

Unfortunately, the crowd did not share Sang Hue s opinion (it is not clear why or how), and a riot followed. They started pelting bottles soon after Garry Sobers was joined by his cousin David Holford, mostly towards Snow at third-man with chants of we want Butcher and Sang Hue no more .

In a gesture completely unlike his usual behaviour, Snow pleaded the crowd to keep quiet. It did not work not even after both Cowdrey and Sobers tried their best. The police fired tear-gas, but unfortunately for them the wind was blowing the other way and it backfired.

The incident had probably left Sang Hue shaken. Wisden noted in their tour report: Quite the most professional of the umpires was Sang Hue, but he was never so efficient after as before his correct decision against Butcher in the second Test.

8. Covering from point

As for the Test, Sobers turned it on its head with a resounding unbeaten 113. Chasing 159, England were 68 for 8 against Sobers and Lance Gibbs when time ran out though not before a curious incident.

Sang Hue had moved to cover to get a better view of the batsman. D Oliveira and Fred Titmus were holding fort for the seventh wicket when the latter played one to point. Geoff Boycott later recalled that Sang Hue picked it up and threw it back to Lance Gibbs, he was so caught up in the drama.

9. Run out in Trinidad

We all know the story of the Trinidad Test of 1973-74. England, wrecked by Keith Boyce (4 for 42), were bowled out for 131. West Indies lost quick wickets but Alvin Kallicharran stood firm, and though nobody else reached 25 he got 142 to take the score to 274 for 6 at stumps on Day Two.

So far, so good. Derek Underwood sent down the last over of the day. At silly-point, Tony Greig moved closer and closer after every ball. Julien played out a maiden over. The last ball went to Greig, and by the time he picked it up, Alan Knott had already taken the stumps off.

Kallicharran left his crease and started the long walk back after a satisfying day. Greig saw him leave and threw the ball at the stumps as Underwood took cover. As the ball hit the stumps, Greig appealed to Sang Hue.

David Tossell later wrote in Greig s biography that Sang Hue spread his arms like Pontius Pilate before he realised that he did not really have an option but to rule Greig out: he had, after all, not called time or taken the bails off. There was no doubt that he had taken the correct decision.

Thankfully, Trinidad was never the most violent of the islands. In fact, even the scorers were left confused, and the official scoreboard showed that West Indies were 6 wickets down.

However, the spectators were in no mood to accept the dismissal. In fact, Sobers himself had to drive Greig to his hotel.

The next morning Greig issued a formal apology to WICB, and Kallicharran resumed batting again after the rest day after they shook hands. The crowd brought bags full of empty bottles (just in case), but thankfully they were not required.

10. No run out in Trinidad

The Test is typically remembered for Colin Croft s first-innings spell of 8 for 29 in what was only his (and Joel Garner s) second Test. Retaliation came from Wasim Raja (65 and 84 along with a fourth-innings wicket).

Pakistan were bowled out for 180. West Indies lost 2 quick wickets before Fredericks scored a brilliant 120 to bail them out. The incident happened when Fredericks was on 99, when the Pakistanis went up in unison for a run out. Sang Hue ruled in Fredericks favour.

The incident might have passed as another umpiring error or bias, but for Imran Khan s narration of the incident in his autobiography: The umpire, Douglas Sang Hue, later told Mushtaq [Mohammed], our captain, that he had to live there.

Cozier refused to believe. He wrote in Sang Hue s obituary in Stabroek News: It somehow doesn t ring true. He, after all, lived his whole life in Jamaica where he was seldom the crowd s favourite.

11. Chucking and out

A Kerry-Packer hit Australia, led by Bobby Simpson, travelled to West Indies to play a full-strength side when the Calypso Kings were at their peak. Skittled out for 90 and 206, they lost the first Test at Trinidad by an innings inside three days. To make things worse, Peter Toohey was hit between his eyes by Roberts. When he returned after getting stitches done, Roberts fractured his thumb.

For once, Sang Hue was criticised by all and sundry, especially the Australians. A snorter from Wayne Clark hit Clive Lloyd on the glove and went to Steve Rixon, but Sang Hue remained unmoved.

Gary Cosier later recollected: Lloydy had got his gloves off and was about three or four paces away from the wicket … He must have seen us coming from slip, saying Sang Hue had to be joking, because he turned around and just walked back as though nothing had happened. Lloyd smashed 86.

To add to it, Bruce Yardley was no-balled by Sang Hue for a dubious action. He did not like Clark s action either, and told WICB President Jeff Stollmeyer that he would no-ball both men if he was at square-leg.

Sang Hue was scheduled for a return in the fifth Test at Kingston, but Simpson objected, which led WICB to drop him. Sang Hue did not officiate in a Test in three seasons.

12. The unexpected comeback

Sang Hue did not officiate in a Test after the 1980-81 Wisden Trophy. However, he decided to make a comeback six years later in the domestic circuit. He even stood in the Geddes Grant/Harrison Line Trophy final between Jamaica and Barbados in 1987-88.

Pakistan toured West Indies the same season for what turned out to be one of the most high-intensity series of the decade. He stood in the first ODI at Sabina Park: it remained the only ODI of his career.

 

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor at CricketCountry. He blogs at ovshake.blogspot.com and can be followed on Twitter @ovshake42.)