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Cricket mourns loss of 'Shep'

Last updated on: October 29, 2009 16:07 IST

Cricket mourns loss of 'Shep'

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The MCC flag flew at half-mast over the pavilion at Lord's on Wednesday as cricket mourned the loss of one of its most popular characters.

Former international cricket umpire David Shepherd died aged 68 following a long battle with cancer.

Known to most people as 'Shep', Shepherd ended his playing career in 1979 and made his international debut as umpire at the 1983 World Cup.

He went on to stand in 92 Tests and 172 ODIs before retiring in 2005.

He stood in three successive World Cup finals, in 1996, 1999 and 2003, and six tournaments overall.


Image: Australia (left) and New Zealand form a guard of honour for umpire David Shepherd as he steps out to officiate in his last match
Photographs: Reuters
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He had a superstitious habit of hopping on one leg when scores were a multiple of 111

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A sign of how respected he was came in his final year as an international umpire, in 2005, when the ICC offered to put aside their rule about neutral umpires so that Shepherd could stand in one last Ashes series.

He turned them down, but was touched by the offer.

Spectators loved his solid build -- in the white umpire's coat it was often remarked that he resembled a butcher.

He was also famous for his aversion to the 'Nelson' -- scores with a multiple of 111 -- at which he hopped on one leg at the crease between deliveries.

It was fitting that his retirement came 200 years after the Battle of Trafalgar; Lord Admiral Nelson's most famous, and final, military campaign.


Image: A superstitious umpire Shepherd stands on one leg
Photographs: Reuters
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'In order to be a good umpire, you needed to be a good person first'

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Former Australia leg spinner Shane Warne led the tributes for Shepherd.

"He was an absolute beauty and the world will miss him.

"I remember sitting up for four hours drinking with him in the bar after the World Cup final in 1996. He was a gentleman and great company," The Independent quoted Warne, as saying.

Simon Taufel, the Australian umpire, said that Shepherd taught him that "in order to be a good umpire, you needed to be a good person first".

Noting Shepherd's lack of athleticism -- while praising his fitness even in hot conditions -- Taufel said: "Shep and I had a deal going with each other on tour -- I would do an extra lap for him in the gym and he would have an extra scoop of ice cream at the end of a day's play for me."


Image: Sachin Tendulkar signs an autograph for David Shepherd
Photographs: Reuters
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'For him cricket was a lovely game'

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A statement on Gloucestershire's website said: "David brought to all aspects of cricket a cheerful westcountry approach.

"He was respected by all with whom he came in contact, especially the international players with whom he encountered in so many Test matches.

"He always brought a smile to all our faces. For him cricket was a lovely game, a simple game and a game to be enjoyed. He himself brought so much enjoyment to so many of us.

"Our sympathies are with his wife and family."

A right-handed batsman from Devon, Shepherd played 282 first-class matches and scored 12 centuries.

He played county cricket for Gloucestershire, from 1965-79, hitting 10,672 runs.

He was appointed a first-class umpire in 1981 and swiftly went up the ranks, making his Test debut in an Ashes Test four years later.

His final international match was the One-Day International between England and Australia [ Images ] at the Brit Oval on July 12, 2005.


Image: Umpire David Shepherd from England displays his match medal in Jamaica
Photographs: Reuters
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