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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

neutral Umpires - Nick Cook to officiate in Tamilnadu Mumbai Ranji

Nicholas "Nick" Grant Billson Cook, a slow left arm spinner played in fifteen Tests and three ODIs from 1983 to 1989. Cook made his international debut against New Zealand. He picked up 32 wickets in his first four Tests, taking four five-fors, including one on debut, and a best bowling match return of 11 for 83 against Pakistan at Karachi. However Cook's next 11 Tests fetched him 20 wickets at an average of 56.75, and he was dropped. His total of 52 Test wickets were taken at an average of 32.48.

In Cricket, the Umpire holds an exalted position – he stands in the best position to watch and judge and his decision is final [forget the referrals !] – in yesteryears, the crowds would come alive, the moment they can sight the two gentleman taking that walk to the middle.  In the famed list there are names - Maninder Singh, Kumara Dharmasena, Srinivasan Venkatraghavan, Peter Willey, Paul Reiffel,  Richard Illingworth not an exhaustive list of the Gentlemen in the middle with white coats with authority to decide – the finger going up, signalling or ordering the batsmen to trudge back towards the pavilion. 

For the uninformed, on the field of play, there are two umpires officiating a match. One umpire stands behind the stumps at the bowler's end of the pitch, while the other umpire stands at square leg. The concept of Third Umpire is relatively recent one.   The Third Umpire debuted in Test Cricket in Nov 1992 at Kingsmead, Durban and Sachin Tendulkar became the first batsman to be dismissed (run out) by using TV replays.  In July 2008, Tillakaratne Dilshan became the first player to successfully appeal against an umpiring decision.

In between the concept of neutral Umpires came and tapered to one among the two ! ~ do you know that there are foreign Umpires in Ranji matches too – if not read on.  There is the strategic tie-up with Cricket Australia (CA) and the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to conduct exchange programmes for coaches. Similarly, there exists Umpire exchange programme between some.

After playing days,  Nicholas Cook  faced many challenges in a varied cricket career including trying to teach Swann patience while he was Northamptonshire’s second-team coach and facing Allan Border’s rampant Australians in the 1989 Ashes. Then he was diagnosed and recovered from a prostatectomy.  He was diagnosed of cancer of the prostate.  After recovery,  Cook has been in regular contact with the Professional Cricketers’ Association, who run a prostate awareness campaign for English cricketers past and present.

Today’s Times of India reports that Cook is to officiate in Tamilnadu Mumbai Ranji match Group A game.    For someone who fought numerous battles against the likes of Sir Vivian Richards on the field, Nicholas Cook fights battles off the field as well. The former English left-arm spinner, who will officiate in the Tamil NaduMumbai Ranji Trophy Group A game here from Wednesday , is a prostrate cancer survivor who has played mentor to former English spinners Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar among others.

Part of the umpires exchange programme between the BCCI and ECB, Cook feels the experience of umpiring in Indian conditions will be a test.  After calling it quits as a player, Cook made a smooth transition to coaching, and then umpiring.  That list in para 2  is that of some  Umpires who have earlier played Cricket at National level …

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

21st Jan 2015.

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