David Shepherd 1940-2009 October 28, 2009

Former Test umpire David Shepherd dies

Cricinfo staff

David Shepherd, the former England umpire, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 68.

Shepherd was a renowned international umpire and officiated in 172 ODIs, including three consecutive World Cup finals, and 92 Tests between 1983 and 2005. His good-humoured approach to officiating and quirky superstitions - most notably his 'jig' when scores reached 111 or a multiple thereof - made him a favourite with players and spectators the world over.

Shepherd was appointed a first-class umpire in 1981, and made his international debut at the 1983 World Cup. He would go onto become one of the game's most decorated and beloved officials. Only Steve Bucknor and Rudi Koertzen have stood in more Tests.

His last Test match was between West Indies and Pakistan in Kingston in June 2005 - after which Brian Lara presented him with a bat inscribed with a message thanking him for "the service, the memories and the professionalism" - and his final county appearance came at his former home ground of Bristol. Shepherd had represented Gloucestershire as a batsman over a 14-year career, which included 282 first-class matches and 12 centuries.

Upon his retirement from umpiring, Shepherd returned to Devon and remained involved with his local club. He married Jenny, his long-time partner, in 2008.

In confirming his passing on Wednesday, a statement on the Gloucestershire website spoke of Shepherd's "cheerful west country approach." "He was respected by all with whom he came in contact, especially the international players whom he encountered in so many Test Matches," the statement continued. "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."

One of the first personal tributes to come in was from his long-time colleague, Dickie Bird. "I feel very saddened this has happened," Bird told Sky Sports. "He was a fine umpire, we spent many happy hours together. He was a great man and a tremendous man to umpire with. He was a good bloke, he'll be sadly missed."

ICC President David Morgan called him a true gentleman of the game, a match official of the very highest quality with an immense positive influence on the sport. "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," Morgan said. "He was an engaging character which meant players and other umpires were always delighted to be around him."

The current international umpires issued a statement saying many were indebted to him. "Every time we see Nelson on the scoreboard, we will be thinking of Shep's little jig and saying a quiet 'thank you' for having him as one of us. As Shep would always say to every umpire he worked with on the way out to the middle, we now say to him: 'Good luck mate, and may your God go with you.'"

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Muruges on October 29, 2009, 8:21 GMT

    Great and uncontroversial umpire. Man with integrity, Let his soul rest in peace.

  • Santosh on October 29, 2009, 8:20 GMT

    David Shepherd was one of my favorite umpires - I remember him standing on a single foot during the triple digit same number scores and I also remember him admonishing bowlers for atrocious LBW appeals - you could see that he was irate, "NOT Aaaout" he would shout. I used to look forward to matches where he was officiating and was a trifle sad when he retired. He, along with Dickie Bird formed an umpiring pair which is unmatched in cricket history. Rest in peace, Sheph, we will miss you!

  • Him on October 29, 2009, 7:24 GMT

    RIP Shep. You leave behind countless admirers. (PS: pardon the gaffe in my prior post fellow cricket buffs...that incident was actually between Curtly and that other marvellous man Dickie. But both Dickie and Shep were the golden gents of cricket.)

  • Bheem on October 29, 2009, 7:19 GMT

    I think one could argue that David Shepherd and Dickie Bird have enriched cricket just as much as brilliant players like Lara, Tendulkar or Warne. I always admired how they could be jovial and firm in equal measure, always upholding the spirit of the game (which actually meant something to them). May David rest in peace.

  • S on October 29, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    One of the most beloved umpires, was very good at his job. May his soul rest in peace.

  • Him on October 29, 2009, 7:11 GMT

    A wonderful man, and an excellent umpire. Shep will never be forgotten by cricket fans who've had the pleasure to watch him over the years. (I still fondly remember the incident when he stopped Curtly Ambrose who had already started his run-up...Curtly continued to run in towards Shep but only to give him a hug!)

  • Sujeev on October 29, 2009, 7:00 GMT

    "Every time we see Nelson on the scoreboard, we will be thinking of Shep's little jig"....very true, David Shepherd was another one of those colourful characters that makes cricket so much fun for people like me...my first memory of David Shepherd was his umpiring in that mother of all indo-pak matches, the QF in 1996 world cup. May his soul rest in peace.

  • Aditya on October 29, 2009, 6:44 GMT

    David Shepherd belonged to a rare kind of cricket umpire. Such was his ability, and expertise, that he was considered among the best umpires ever, with the likes of umpire Bird. May his tribe increase in England, and indeed, all over the cricket playing world.

  • mahesh on October 29, 2009, 6:38 GMT

    true professional..earned respect & trust from most of the cricket players & fans. thanks a lot ! we will miss u..:-|

  • mahesh on October 29, 2009, 6:35 GMT

    true professional..earned respect & trust from most of the cricket players & fans. thanks a lot ! we will miss u..:-|

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