An umpire is a person who has the right to make decisions while the match is going on the cricket field. He makes decisions about the delivery, appeals for wickets, and the general conduct of the game. The umpire also keeps a count of the deliveries and announces the completion of an over. The Elite Panel of ICC Umpires is a panel of cricket umpires appointed by the ICC to officiate in Test matches and ODIs around the world. The panel was first founded in April 2002. The main change was that both umpires in a Test match and one of the umpires in an ODI is now of the playing nations. Let us take a look at the top 10 best cricket umpires of all time.
Prior to 2002 just one of the umpires in a Test was independent and in ODIs both umpires were from the home nation. Most of these ICC appointments are fulfilled by the members of the Elite Panel. They are the best umpires in the world. ICC expects to ensure that umpiring standards are as high as possible. Members of the umpire panel stand in around 10 Tests and 15 ODIs each year. ICC Umpires Selection Panel revised the list of umpires in the panel every year.
Ranking Of Cricket Umpires Of All Time
1. Steve Bucknor
Steve Bucknor is a former international cricket umpire. Bucknor umpired in a record number of 128 Test matches between 1989 and 2009. He also umpired in 181 ODIs during this period. He umpired in five consecutive Cricket World Cup finals from 1992 to 2007. Bucknor was awarded the Order of Jamaica, Commander Class, for “outstanding services in the field of sports in October 2007. Bucknor’s started umpiring his first international cricket fixture in an ODI between the West Indies and India on 18 March 1989. Further, his first Test match was in Jamaica, between 28 April and 3 May 1989. After umpiring in a few matches, his umpiring skills were appreciated. Thereafter, he was selected to umpire at the 1992 Cricket World Cup in Australia.
Bucknor also umpired in the next four World Cup finals in 1996, 1999, 2003, and 2007. ICC introduced a policy in 1994 whereby one of the umpires in each Test match would be independent of the playing nations. They will be selected from the International Panel of Umpires. Bucknor was an umpire of this panel from the beginning until the ICC changed its policy in 2002. Since then both umpires in Test matches, and one of the umpires in ODIs have been independent of the playing countries. The umpires are now selected from the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, whom the ICC considers to be the world’s best umpires. Bucknor secured a place on the Elite Panel from its beginning until his retirement. On 23 February 2009, ICC confirmed that Bucknor had decided to retire from umpiring in March 2009.
2. Dickie Bird Is One Among The Best Cricket Umpires of All Time
Dickie Bird was born on 19 April 1933. He is an English cricket umpire. During his career, he was very much popular among players and the public for his umpiring skills. Bird played first-class cricket for Yorkshire and Leicestershire, but only scored two centuries in 93 matches. He umpired in 66 Test matches and 69 One Day matches including 3 World Cup Finals. Yorkshire announced in February 2014 that Bird was to be voted in as the club’s president at their Annual General Meeting on 29 March. Further, his autobiography published in 1997 has sold more than a million copies.
He umpired in his first county game in 1970. After three years, he umpired at his first Test match, England v New Zealand at Headingley in Leeds. He was an umpire in the final of the Cricket World Cup in 1975. As of June 2021, Bird has umpired the most test matches in a single nation – 54 in England and has officiated in more test matches at Lord’s (15) than any other umpire.
3. David Shepherd
David Robert Shepherd was a first-class cricketer who played county cricket for Gloucestershire. Later he became one of the world’s best-known umpires. He stood in 92 Test matches, which is the most for any English umpire. He has also umpired in 172 ODIs, including three consecutive World Cup finals in 1996, 1999, and 2003.
After retiring from his playing career in 1979, he decided to become an umpire. He started umpiring as his second career in cricket. This career path is the one that made him world-famous when he was appointed as a first-class umpire in 1981. He is one of the fairest-minded and most able officials in the game. Further, he was part of the umpiring panel for the 1983 World Cup for two years.
4. Simon Taufel (One Of The Best Cricket Umpires of All Time)
Simon Taufel was born on 21 January 1971. He is a former Australian cricket umpire. Earlier he was a member of the ICC Elite umpire panel. He received five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards between 2004 and 2008. Taufel was the best umpire in the world during his time. He declared his retirement from cricket on 26 September 2012, after the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 final. He joined the Channel Seven commentary team in 2020 as an expert commentator for the 2020/21 test series. Taufel stood in his first ODI on 13 January 1999 in the match between Australia and Sri Lanka in Sydney. Further, he umpired his first Test match in December 2000 – the Boxing Day Test between Australia and West Indies at Melbourne.
In 2002, he became a member of the Emirates International Panel of ICC Umpires. He was selected to umpire at the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Taufel has been featured as the top umpire of the year five times. In August 2006 the ICC’s annual umpire review officially ranked him second for accuracy and top in the overall category. He umpired in the final match of the 2004 Champions Trophy. Taufel became the youngest umpire to stand in 100 ODIs in January 2007. He along with Aleem Dar umpired in the final of the 2011 Cricket World Cup between Sri Lanka and India. Taufel took retirement from the international cricket after the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka. He stepped down from cricket’s elite panel of umpires for a new role as the ICC’s Umpire Performance and Training Manager. Further, he resigned from that role in October 2015.
5. Aleem Dar
Aleem Dar was born on 6 June 1968. He is a Pakistani cricket umpire and former cricketer. Aleem belongs to the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires. He received the David Shepherd Trophy three years in a row from 2009 to 2011. Aleem Dar, Marais Erasmus, Richard Kettleborough, Kumar Dharmasena, and Simon Taufel were the only umpires to receive the award from its inception until 2017. Before becoming an umpire, he played first-class cricket as a batsman and a leg-break bowler. Aleem stood in his 129th Test match between Australia and New Zealand in December 2019. He also stood in his 210th ODI match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe on 1 November 2020 as an on-field umpire. He surpassed South African Rudi Koertzen’s record of umpiring in the most ODI matches. Aleem started his umpiring career in an ODI between Pakistan and Sri Lanka on 16 February 2000.
He became a member of ICC’s International Panel of umpires in 2002. Aleem umpired at the ICC Cricket World Cup. He became the first Pakistani to be part of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires in April 2004. Aleem umpired in his 100th ODI on 17 October 2007 between India and Australia. He was the tenth umpire in the history of cricket to reach that landmark. He arrived at the landmark in a record time, taking just seven years, and became the first Pakistani to officiate in a century of ODIs. Aleem was one of the on-field umpires for the final of the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy. Further, he umpired in the final of the 2007 Cricket World Cup between Australia and Sri Lanka. Dar also umpired in the final of the 2010 ICC World Twenty20 between Australia and England.
6. Billy Bowden (One Of The Best Cricket Umpires of All Time)
Billy Bowden was born on 11 April 1963. He is a cricket umpire from New Zealand. He is very popular for his dramatic signaling style which includes the famous “crooked finger of doom” out signal. Bowden stood in his 200th One Day International match on 6th February 2016 in the game between New Zealand and Australia in Wellington. In March 1995, he officiated his first ODI between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at Hamilton. He was appointed his first Test match as an on-field umpire in March 2000. Further, he was included in the Emirates Panel of International Umpires in 2002.
He was selected to umpire at the Cricket World Cup in South Africa a year later. He was the fourth umpire in the final between Australia and India. Thereafter, he was promoted to the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires. He was a member of the panel till 2013. Further, he continued his role as the fourth umpire in the 2007 Cricket World Cup final. Billy was one of the twenty umpires during the 2015 Cricket World Cup. Until June 2016, he was a member of the International Panel of Umpires and Referees.
7. Daryl Harper
Daryl John Harper was born on 23 October 1951. He is an Australian cricket umpire, who was a Test umpire between 1998 and 2011. He belongs to the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires from 2002 until 2011. In June 2011, Harper retired from umpiring following criticism from India during the India-West Indies Test series. Harper started umpiring in an international fixture in January 1994. He umpired his first ODI in Perth between New Zealand and South Africa. Harper made his test match debut in November 1998. Harper also began to appear in Test matches away from Australia as the designated umpire. In 2002, ICC introduced a policy of two independent umpires standing in each Test match, and one independent & one home umpire in ODIs.
The independent umpires would be selected from ICC Elite umpire panel. The panel comprises the ICC’s top 8 – 10 umpires from around the world. Harper was added to the original lineup for this panel. Harper umpired the opening match of the 2003 Cricket World Cup in South Africa. On 31 August 2005, he umpired in his 100th ODI match between Zimbabwe and New Zealand at Harare. In 2009, he was the third umpire for a trial of the ‘player referral’ system.
8. Rudi Koertzen (8th Best Cricket Umpires of All Time)
Rudolf Eric Koertzen was born on 26 March 1949. He is a former international cricket umpire. Koertzen was born in Knysna in South Africa. He is a cricket enthusiast since his youth days. Koertzen played league cricket while working as a clerk for South African Railways. He started umpiring in 1981. Koertzen officiated in his first ODI on 9 December 1992. He also umpired in his first Test match from 26–29 December 1992. Both the matches were played between South Africa and India at Port Elizabeth. Television replays were used for the first time during the series to assist with run-out decisions.
Koertzen became very popular for slowly raising his index finger to indicate that a batsman was out. In 1997, he became a full-time ICC umpire and was one of the original umpires of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires when it was founded in 2002. He umpired in a record 209 ODIs – becoming the second umpire to stand in 150 ODIs with the match between India and Pakistan on 19 April 2006. He surpassed Shepherd’s record of 172 ODIs with the Cricket World Cup match between the West Indies and England on 21 April 2007. Koertzen stood in his 200th ODI in the match between Ireland and Kenya in Dublin on 11 July 2009. He also became the second umpire, to stand in 100 Test matches with the second Test of the 2009 Ashes between England and Australia at Lord’s on 16 July 2009. He eventually officiated in 108 Tests.
9. Darrell Hair (One Of The Best Cricket Umpires of All Time)
Darrell Bruce Hair was born on 30 September 1952. He is an Australian former Test match cricket umpire, from New South Wales. He was a member of the International panel of umpires from 2002 to 2003. Thereafter, he along with fellow Australian Simon Taufel, and New Zealander Billy Bowden was appointed to the ICC Elite umpire panel. After an ICC board meeting discussed his actions in a Test match between Pakistan and England in 2006 it was finalized that he should not umpire matches involving the Test-playing nations. He was again restored to the Elite Panel by the ICC on 12 March 2008 and stood in the England v New Zealand Tests at Old Trafford in May and Trent Bridge in June 2008.
Hair started umpiring in the first Test match in January 1992, between Australia and India. In 1994, ICC started a policy of appointing one umpire to each Test match from a non-participating country. Since 2002 both umpires have been selected from non-participating nations. The majority of Hair’s Test matches have been played outside Australia since 2002. His last Test match was against South Africa in Melbourne from 26 to 29 December 2001.
10. Tony Hill
Tony Hill was born on 26 June 1951. He is a retired international cricket umpire from New Zealand. He was a former member of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires. His first umpiring career started in an ODI between New Zealand and Zimbabwe at Napier in March 1998. He stood in his first test match between New Zealand and Bangladesh at Hamilton in December 2001. ICC has appointed Hill to matches away from New Zealand as a neutral umpire during his time on the International Panel. Hill was selected to the ICC Elite Panel of umpires in 2009.
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