David Shepherd, who makes his final appearance as an international umpire at The Oval on Tuesday, has said that he expected technology to play an even bigger part in cricket in years to come. Shepherd, 64, who is quitting ahead of reaching the England and Wales Cricket Board's compulsory retirement age of 65, said television had created the biggest changes in his 25 years as an umpire.
"Television shows up our mistakes. It also proves us right now and then. There's more scrutiny from the camera," said Shepherd, who has stood in 92 Tests and 171 one-day internationals. "But where would we be without the tight line decisions? They are crucial and it's been great to turn to the third umpire and get the camera view of it.
"How far down the road will technology go? Will it go to lbw, to caught behind. It may well do. The sad thing about it is of course only if a game is being televised do we have technology. There are thousands of umpires doing club cricket and first-class games who don't have the benefit of that. So it's a bit ironic that the so-called elite are getting help from technology where everyone else is not."
But he insisted that technology had helped improve player behaviour, often criticised by cricket traditionalists. "To be quite I think it has improved a bit mainly because of microphones and the fact they are on TV and the fact we have got a match referee.
"The referee has the power to fine people and suspend people. It's very important for a player to keep his place in the side these days."
In England, the tradition has been that first-class games are umpired by former county players and Shepherd said this experience had been invaluable to him after he retired as a player in 1979 and started to look for a new job. "I think the fact that I played the game was a great advantage. Sometimes I can realise the emotions the players are going through and and perhaps smooth troubled waters."
He added the best two sides he had seen during his time as an umpire were the West Indies side of the 1980s and the current all-conquering Australia side. Asked which would win in a game between the two, he chose Australia because of leg-spinner Shane Warne. "I think he's the greatest spinner I've seen."
And he said it was a contest between Warne and India batsman Sachin Tendulkar that had provided him with one of the great memories of his career. "The best piece of cricket I ever watched I think it was in India. Warne bowling to Tendulkar. Warne was doing his utmost to get him out, Tendulkar doing his utmost to score runs. That day, Tendulkar came off best, I think he got 170, but it was wonderful cricket to watch."
As an umpire, Shepherd became known for his habit of hopping onto one leg when the score was on 111 or multiples. "It started as a kid when I was playing club cricket back in Devon. It's a load of nonsense really but the only thing to stop something bad happening on 111 is to get your feet off the ground.
"When I played for Gloucestershire I used to give a little skip in the outfield. Nobody ever noticed, why should they? When I umpired, no-one noticed until I got to my second Test at Edgbaston in 1985. Someone, without my knowing, wrote into dear Brian Johnston (the late BBC Radio broadcaster), who was commentating, saying 'what's this idiot doing when the score gets on 111?' He told the world and then I was lumbered with it.
"I am superstitious. Friday the 13th is terrible day and that day I have a matchstick touching my finger so I am touching wood all day to combat it."
And he added that bad luck had come his way when he took it off before going for a shower at the end of play at Lord's one day. "Graham Burgess was the other umpire and he said 'are you all right'? I said 'yes, just give me a couple of minutes'. And he said 'But where did you say you put the ball?"
Shepherd has been with his partner Jenny for over 20 years and said life back in Devon, south-west England, would be a challenging experience. "It will be a learning curve for me, I've never been home for so long since I started playing cricket. The dog will be pleased, I expect."
Such was Shepherd's standing in the game, authorities were prepared to break with the current rules and let him umpire the Lord's Test against Australia. "I felt very flattered. But I didn't want it really. There's enough hype going on these days. Players are the stars. The game of cricket is for players not umpires."
And he said there would no great dramas from him at The Oval. "A little wave perhaps, but no tears. Those are for others, not for me."