April 24, 2002

Steve Dunne retires as New Zealand's most experienced umpire

The umpire may yet strike back.

New Zealand's most experienced Test match umpire, and the first umpire in world cricket to have stood in 100 One-Day Internationals, Steve Dunne has confirmed what had been whispered all summer, that he was retiring at the end of the season.

The Dunedin-based Dunne has said in announcing his retirement that he is toying with the idea of writing a book about his experiences.

With so much cricket behind him he will have a goldmine of stories to dredge.

He was exposed to the heat of international relations when standing in the 1996 World Cup semi-final between India and Sri Lanka at Calcutta when the game was abandoned.

He also stood in a Test match, the first for 12 years, between long-standing antagonists India and Pakistan in Chennai in 1999/00.

Often embroiled in controversy, it was Dunne's decision not to give out Mike Atherton when television replays suggested he had been caught off his gloves in a particularly vital moment of the fourth England-South Africa Test at Trent Bridge in 1998 when South African pace man Allan Donald was well and truly on fire.

He was also the square leg umpire in the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne in 1995/96 when Australian umpire Darrell Hair called Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan for throwing.

And last year in New Zealand, he and fellow local umpire Doug Cowie, reported Pakistani fast man Shoaib Akhtar for a suspect bowling action.

During the second Test of the recent New Zealand-England series, Dunne was also involved in some controversial dismissals of players.

There have been equally a good number of correct calls in close situations in his career, but as is the situation these days with increased electronic coverage and interpretation, it is only the wrong calls that are remembered.

Dunne marked his retirement announcement by calling for even more electronic assistance for umpires.

He said he never read newspapers or listened to the radio during Test matches.

A former first-class player himself, Dunne is aged 58, and stood in 39 Tests, the most by a New Zealander, 100 ODIs and 111 first-class matches.

He will not be completely lost to the game as he has indicated he will stand in club and minor representative matches next season.