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Shahvir Tarapore to officiate in his 100th first-class match

Ahead of his landmark match, the umpire speaks about routines & memorable moments

After Suresh Shastri and Amish Saheba earlier this season, Shavir Tarapore will become the third umpire to officiate in 100 first-class matches. The former Karnataka cricketer will reach the landmark when he steps onto the field to officiate in the Ranji Trophy match between Orissa and Jharkhand.

Looking forward to the momentous occasion, Tarapore said, “It is a milestone that I am looking forward to with great anticipation. But my preparation remains the same. I will be following the same routines, which have helped me get this far. I am looking forward to this game.”

Like cricketers, Tarapore also has his routines to prepare himself for a match. “I prepare myself mentally and physically to officiate in any match that I have done over the years, including Test matches or one-day internationals or any other matches. I have already started preparing that way for this game,” he said while speaking toBCCI.TV.

Describing his preparation, he said, “From the umpiring aspect of it, I have always followed a little bit of physical training from time to time. I do it almost every day - walk or jog as that helps me stand there for seven-and-a-half hours. And of course, I update myself with the laws and playing conditions. Though we are doing matches day in and day out, it is always better to update yourself just before the game.”

Asked about the challenges faced by an umpire, he mentioned, “Basically, the challenge has always been that you have to be updated with the laws and the playing conditions because they keep changing from season to season. You learn through experience -meeting senior people or from your mentor if you have one. Another aspect is match management – how to take (understand and assess) situation, also how do you get along with the players is important.

Speaking about taking up umpiring after finishing as a cricketer, Tarapore said, “After being a first-class cricketer for Karnataka from 1980 to 1987, I tried my hand at a little bit of coaching. (However,) I thought that umpiring will be the other alternative because (of) being (able to be) on the field. Also, right through my playing days, I thought that it is the best way to be in the center of the action on the field, which motivated me to try my hand at umpiring.”

Looking back on the journey, he reminisced, “It was the passion that kept me going. Being a first-class cricketer myself kept me going. With God’s grace, hard work and with the support of the BCCI and my state association, I started climbing the ladder slowly. Once you start climbing the ladder, like any player, you get even more motivated. That is exactly what happened for me. I started working harder. With every step that I took, I set a goal for me to reach the next level. I got on the ICC panel and did about four Test matches and along with that ODIs, World Cup and IPL etc. came my way.

“I started (umpiring) in the 1991-92 season with the BCCI. It has evolved a lot since then. The laws have changed from time to time. The playing conditions have changed and with a lot of technology coming in, we have to move along with time. You have to use all the latest equipment given to you whether you are on field or whether you are sitting in the box as TV umpire. The reserve umpire’s job has now doubled. In any walk of life, you have to be updated and move along,” he said while reflecting on the role.

Asked about the highlight of his career thus far, the senior umpire said, “For me there could be only one and that would firstly be the day when I was appointed through the BCCI to the ICC and (then) when I got my first posting as a Test umpire. To officiate in a Test was the highlight of my umpiring career. That was exactly what I worked for when I started umpiring.”

While talking about his most memorable game as an umpire, Tarapore unhesitantly said, “There have been a few but officiating in the match where Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to get the double-hundred in ODIs was a highlight because that was history and I was part of it. I officiated in that match against South Africa in Gwalior. 

Prajakta Pawar
Prajakta Pawar

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‘Our job is to see that mistakes are eliminated’

Veteran umpire SK Bansal says he loves sharing his knowledge with young umpires

Like cricketers, umpires too have to go through the grind before they are deemed fit to officiate in an international game. While we are well aware of the role coaches play in grooming a cricketer, a similar role is also in practice for the match officials. Young umpires are being groomed by senior officials who share their knowledge and prepare them for the tough task ahead.

Veteran umpire SK Bansal talks about coaching young umpires in an interview with

You have been part of the umpires’ review committee. Tell us about your role.

As part of the review committee, some of us senior umpires travelled to various venues and observed performances of young umpires. We would observe their body language, appearance and alertness on the field. We noticed the decisions made by them for no balls, wide balls and other modes of dismissals. We made notes and gave marks, and passed on the information to the Board. Our job was to see that the mistakes committed on the field of play were reduced and eventually eliminated.

What would the review committee do with the data that was collected?

If it was observed that lbw decisions made by some umpires were not up to the mark, then they were called to the BCCI Umpires Academy in Nagpur and given lectures for about a week. They were apprised of the mistakes made and how they can overcome their doubts. You are bound to make mistakes and if you are being observed by somebody, it means there is a definite scope for improvement.

Was there a similar concept during your time as well?

During my time, we did not even have books on the law. We were guided by our senior umpires. Earlier, I would sit at one corner of the Karnail Singh Stadium in Delhi and read out the laws to young umpires to help them prepare. The BCCI is doing a wonderful job now. There are regular classes on the laws of the game, reviews and very soon the Academy in Nagpur is going to start functioning again. We will have a new batch in January.

What is the central topic of discussion in your conversations with young umpires?

I give lectures to umpires at Vidarbha Cricket Association and Uttar Pradesh Cricket Association. I teach the boys for three hours in the morning and then again in the evening. I am interested in talking laws to as many people as possible. The first thing I teach them is laws. The other aspect is how to implement those laws. If a bowling side makes one strong appeal, you should not be trembling. You should be certain about your decision.

A batsman is always told to focus on the next ball and concentrate all over again. Is it the same for an umpire as well?

I tell them to forget everything around them and focus on the task. It is easier said than done, but you have to do it. If you give a wrong decision in a big match, the media will highlight it and it puts more pressure on you. If you have made a mistake, you have to think what went wrong and overcome that and not let it hamper you.

So do you share your experiences to help them understand better?

Yes, experience is the best teacher. I encourage them to give right decisions under pressure. Umpiring is an art with courage. When I officiated in the Eden Gardens, Test match against Australia (VVS Laxman hit 281), there were over one lakh people inside and countless people outside the stadium. The support for the Indian team was massive and it was very difficult to concentrate. The ball was pitching and moving. My job was to detach from the all the noise around and channelize all my energies on the movement of the ball. That was certainly the high point of my career. It was something very different. I tell the boys that there will also be a day in their career and they must not be overawed by the occasion. 

Moulin Parikh

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