CRICKET IGNORAMUS

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OVERNIGHT STAR UMPIRE

IN 1965, he found himself as the secretary of the Guyana Teachers’ Association, Wakenaam Branch.
This island and the Cinderella county were organising the inter-district cricket tournament and umpires were needed. The branch unanimously appointed him their umpire. He vehemently objected to their choice as he had no knowledge of cricket, not knowing a ‘no ball’ from an L.B.W. In the whole of Guyana, perhaps he was the only one ignorant of this popular game. His father was an enthusiast but he never listened to the commentary and hated the rambled voices emanating from these transistors. He never watched a game. He simply hated cricket. To get him upset, all you had to do was ask him the score.

NO BACKING DOWN
But there was no rescinding of the decision despite his complaints. He was compelled to execute this dignified job. An ignoramus turn umpire, how absurd. But there was no backing down. He was no coward, and his colleagues had confidence in him. So he borrowed a bicycle and rode around the island seeking all the knowledge of the white man’s game. He found Red Fox, an octogenarian and former batsman for the Ridge Cricket Club. That’s when he hit jackpot. He learned all about the player and the field and fielders. He even did a sketch of the field and word by word, the rules and the decisions. He loved to rule and be in command. He was a former army officer with a powerful ego.

THE ‘PROFESSIONAL’
The next day he bought a white shirt jack, a pair of white ‘yachting’ boots and borrowed a white flop hat and cleaned his sunglasses. Being tall and slim, he looked great in this immaculate garb – the professional umpire.

GETTING THE JOB DONE
He had a prestigious job to do and he was going to do it the best way. He would face this challenge and deliver; it was his day. As he and his buddy walked on to the field, the home team rose in jubilation. He was taller than the other umpire and he stood out. The home team won the toss to bat. He was placed at the square leg and the game began. Then the uproar, there appeared to be an L.B.W. The guests demanded the call. He just didn’t respond. They pelted missiles and stormed the field but he remained adamant. He saw no L.B.W and his decision stood. Anyone in command must make decisions, whether popular or controversial. He was a fake but acted professionally. Later, when a ball was caught, the spectators shouted “OUT!” he didn’t see it that way. Now it was a riot. The police had to restore order. The mob shouted “Get rid of that crooked Umpy, he’s biased! That was a fair catch! Move off the field, he is no good!”

Again, the film showed his decision was just. He called it as he saw it. He was a sports judge and dispensed justice without fear or favour. He had to be escorted by the police to his home at the end of the match because the guest team won. The home team felt he was a letdown. He just executed his job well. Later, he was deemed a start umpire. But that was his last game. To this day, he still hates cricket.