Stephen Anthony Bucknor
May 31, 1946, Montego Bay, St James, Jamaica
Widely respected and instantly recognisable (with his characteristic of nodding gently before raising the dreaded finger), "Slow Death Bucknor" umpired in 128 Test matches, more than anyone else. He broke Dickie Bird's record of 66 in 2002, before in March 2005 becoming the first umpire to stand in 100 Tests. Only David Shepherd and Rudi Koertzen have umpired more than his 181 ODIs, while Bucknor also stood in five successive World Cup finals (1992 to 2007), the middle three with Shepherd.
Bucknor's original conversion to umpiring was due in part to his own playing experience in his native Montego Bay, where repeatedly incorrect decisions prompted him to don the white coat in the cause of fairness. The habit of taking his time has been there from the outset. "I have never been hasty to make decisions," he said. "And, by nature, I like to take my time to do things. Patience is a virtue for me. I don't know how many other umpires believe it's a good way to do it. But I'm happy with the method and hopefully others will also take their time to make important decisions."
Bucknor's rise to international status was rapid. His appointment for the 1992 World Cup final followed just four Tests and a handful of one-day internationals. At six foot three he has a commanding view of proceedings, and he can also draw on his experience of football, where he refereed in a World Cup qualifier. Throughout his career he took nothing for granted and is a man of routine, from his usual early-morning routine - exercises, a verse from the Bible and the morning papers - before arriving at the ground in good time.
His career could well have been extended further as he was not scheduled to retire until 2011, but in his final years a punishing workload began to take its toll and a few high-profile errors tarnished a previously unblemished reputation - not least his role in misinterpreting the rules regarding bad light, which caused the farcical finish to the World Cup final in April 2007 and led to his suspension for the Twenty20 World Championships in September. Things turned progressively worse in the following months, when he was removed by the ICC from officiating in the third Test between Australia and India in Perth after several contentious decisions contributed to India's defeat in the second Test in Sydney in January 2008.
Steven Price (March 2009)
Umpire & Referee