Cricket loses its good old Shepherd

Cricket loses its good old Shepherd

Umpire David Shepherd in his memorable one-legged stance. The Guardian

Shepherd stood in 92 Tests between 1983 and 2005 and 172 ODIs, including three consecutive World Cup finals, advancing England’s reputation, with Dickie Bird, for producing the finest umpires in the world.

“I’m very sad and shocked it’s happened,” said Bird. “He was a fine umpire. We umpired together all over the world. He was a character, a great man, and a tremendous bloke. I’ve lost a friend. A great friend.”

Born in December 1940 in Bideford, Shepherd was educated at Barnstaple Grammar and St Luke’s College, Exeter, and his love for Devon never wavered.

He lived in the North Devon coastal village of Instow and for many years supplemented what for the most part were meagre umpiring earnings by helping his brother run a small sub-post office.

Shepherd began his cricketing life as a rotund middle-order batsman for Gloucestershire, playing from 1964-79, starting his county career in his mid-20s after a short period playing for Devon and working as a teacher. He played 282 first-class matches and made a hundred on debut.

Shepherd was appointed as a first-class umpire in 1981, and within two years graduated to the Test panel where his portly, ruddy features became instantly recognisable.

He became well known for standing on one leg whenever the score reached 111 or a multiple of it — a harmless little routine, in response to cricket’s superstition that 111 is an unlucky number — but it was the quality of his umpiring, immense fair-mindedness and good man-management skills that endeared him to the cricketing fraternity. His lowest moment came in 2001 during a Test between England and Pakistan at Old Trafford. Saqlain Mushtaq’s off-spin won the Test for Pakistan and Shepherd failed to spot that three of his four victims were dismissed by no balls. He briefly considered early retirement.

“Shep”, as he was universally known, was awarded an MBE in 1987 and made an honorary life member of the MCC in 2006. In his later years, he also became president of Devon, the Minor County Club.

His last Test was between West Indies and Pakistan at Kingston in June 2005 and his final appearance in an ODI came at The Oval in July of that year. As retirement beckoned, he was praised wherever he went.

The Guardian

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