Former cricket umpire Shepherd dies of cancer

BY foxsports • October 28, 2009

David Shepherd, a highly popular former English test cricket umpire who had the superstitious habit of standing on one leg when a team reached certain scores, has died of cancer, the English and Wales Cricket Board said Wednesday. He was 68. The former Gloucestershire batsman, who was a veteran of 92 tests and 172 one-day internationals, retired from umpiring in 2005 and received a standing ovation from the fans and players after his final match, a one-day game between England and Australia at the Oval. "I'm very sad and shocked it's happened," said Dickie Bird, a fellow test umpire. "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." International Cricket Council president David Morgan described Shepherd as a true gentleman of the game. "He was a fine player and a match official of the very highest quality," Morgan said. "He will be remembered fondly by players, spectators and administrators, who saw him as a great entertainer but also as one of the best umpires the game has ever seen. "The example he set as someone who took the art of umpiring very seriously while also enjoying what he did immensely will leave a lasting legacy for the game. He was an engaging character which meant players and other umpires were always delighted to be around him. We have lost someone whose positive influence on our great sport has been immense." Gloucestershire chairman John Light said Shepherd's superstitious habit of standing on one leg went back to his days as a player. He persuaded his teammates and club officials to do the same and sometimes they even do it now, he said. "He was tremendously superstitious. When the score was 111, 222 or 333, David would be hopping about on one leg and everybody in the dressing room had to do the same," Light said. "We all do it in the committee room. When we do it, we say 'Shep would have us dancing.' We do it, and we'll go on doing it." Shepherd made 12 centuries in his 10,672 first class runs in 282 matches for Gloucestershire before he stopped playing in 1979 and became an umpire. He began umpiring tests and ODIs in 1983. "As an umpire he has always been a familiar and much-loved face, not only here but at cricket grounds around the world," Light said. "He was friendly, outgoing and straightforward. He believed cricket was a simple game and he took a straightforward approach to it in his cricket and his umpiring. He always put a smile on your face."