Brent Fraser Bowden
April 11, 1963, Henderson, Auckland
Some eccentrics are born. Others thrust eccentricity upon themselves. Step forward, Brent "Billy" Bowden, the New Zealand umpiring sensation who shot to fame with a zany array of embellished signals and a preposterous eye for showmanship. Bowden turned to umpiring after the onset of arthritis in his early-twenties, and earned a reputation for giving batsmen out with a curiously bent finger. Suitably encouraged, he threw out the rule-book which states that the best cricket officials are the ones that go unnoticed, and added a whole host of whacky twists to his daily routine. The most celebrated of these is his hop-on-one-leg-and-reach-for-Jesus signal for six, and he seems pre-programmed to pose throughout a match, even when ducking for his life as a pull-shot rockets through square-leg. For all the embellishments, his decision-making skills are almost without equal among the ICC's elite panel, although in 2007 he was suspended from standing at that year's inaugural Twenty20 World Championships, following his role in the farcical conclusion of the World Cup final in Barbados.
Andrew Miller June 2007
Umpire & Referee