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Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes

Turn it up, Daryl

What's a poor umpire to do if he can't hear over the soothing sounds of whale greetings?

Alan Tyers

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Daryl Harper calls out, Sri Lanka v South Africa, World Cup, Georgetown, Guyana, 28 March 2007
"I'm sorry, you're going to have to speak up - just like I am" © AFP
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Daryl Harper reclined in a large armchair, a piece of cucumber over each eye. He was listening to Relaxing Whale Sounds Seven - Now That's What I Call Deep Sea Mammalian Greetings and practising his umpiring gestures flamboyantly, as if conducting an orchestra. "Out"… "Not Out"… "More violas"… "four leg-byes"… "Search me, I haven't a clue"…

There was a loud knock at the door, but Harper remained unmoved.

Roshan Mahanama burst in.

"Daryl! Christ!" he said. "I've been knocking for hours."

Startled, Harper sat up quickly and, as if in a dream, raised his finger uncertainly. Mahanama sighed angrily. Umpire Harper removed the two pieces of cucumber from his eyes and looked at Mahanama for approval. Exasperated, the Sri Lankan nodded in the affirmative. Pleased, Harper carefully ate one of the pieces.

"G'day Roshan," he said. "Care for a piece of cucumber?"

"No, I would not care for a piece of cucumber, Daryl," said Mahanama. "Have you any idea of the trouble you've caused?"

"Hang on a second, mate," said Harper. "I can't hear a bloody thing over this whale music caper."

"What the hell are you listening to that for?" asked Mahanama.

"Well, I was having a few problems picking up noises off the video feed - snicks, nicks, Matt Prior chanting 'good areas' over and over again, the sound of the ball smashing into the stumps and the batsman shouting 'Oh no, I have been clean bowled middle stump', that sort of thing - so the good people at South African TV plumbed this whale CD in for me instead. It's very good," he said. "And enjoyable at any volume from four upwards."

"But how can you possibly make decisions listening to this?" said Mahanama.

"You hear that?" said Harper. "That's the sound of the female Southern Right Whale trying to attract a mate. Or a Humpback Whale ordering a pizza. One of the two. Or maybe Graeme Smith gloving one down leg. It's very difficult to pick up to the naked human ear."

"Well obviously you have my full support and I am certain nobody could do a better job," said Mahanama.

"Sorry mate, wasn't listening there," said Harper. "Tell you what, how's about I stick the telly on and we'll see what's happening in the cricket?"

"The cricket?" said Mahanama. "You do realise that the game ended yesterday, Daryl?"

"You know, I could have sworn I heard something about that," said Harper. "Of course, at this volume, it's impossible to tell."

RSS FeedAlan Tyers is a freelance journalist based in London

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Alan Tyers
Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.

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Alan Tyers Alan Tyers writes about sport for the Daily Telegraph and others. He is the author of six books published by Bloomsbury, all of them with pictures by the brilliant illustrator Beach. The most recent is Tutenkhamen's Tracksuit: The History of Sport in 100ish Objects. Alan is one of many weak links in the world's worst cricket team, the Twenty Minuters.
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