Bowden voted worst elite umpire

Aussies rein in the show pony

Cricinfo staff

December 7, 2005

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Billy Bowden: no shrinking violet © Getty Images
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Billy Bowden, the high-profile elite umpire, has had his feathers ruffled of late. He was well below-par while officiating the Australia-West Indies Test series, and a recent poll among Australia's 25 contracted players revealed that almost three-quarters of them rated him as the worst umpire on the circuit.

The criticism led to Bowden, usually an out-and-out self publicist, refusing to talk to the media last week, although that didn't last too long as he soon broke his silence to tell reporters that he wasn't worried by the flack. "I am happy," he said. "I can look at myself in the mirror."

Bowden became embroiled in a row after some questionable decisions went against West Indies, leading to their board making a formal complaint about the overall standard of umpiring during the series. The West Indies' frustration boiled over on the final morning of the third Test when they repeatedly ignored his direction to stop talking in the field.

Bowden arrived in Australia straight from officiating in the Pakistan-England series where he was again subjected to less than flattering reviews in the media. BSkyB analyst Bob Willis branded him a "show pony".

Bowden has been accused of being in awe of the Australians, and by having such a flamboyant and eccentric persona, he attracts more than his fair share of attention.

But in New Zealand, Bowden has found support. Adam Parore, the former wicketkeeper, told the New Zealand Herald that he was by no means the worst on the circuit. "Billy's problem is that he sets himself up, as all showmen are prone to do, and, at times, players find it hard to take him seriously. That said, it's only the opinion of the Aussies, who had just come off an Ashes defeat when guess who was one of the umpires? Grain of salt Billy, I would suggest."

And in the same paper, columnist Chris Rattue was even more outspoken, labeling the poll "a disgrace, an arrogant response from spoilt brats smarting after losing the Ashes."

  • Rudi Koertzen was rated the best umpire in the poll with a 53% approval rating

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