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Doctrove warms to task


Haydn Gill
St. John's - Every umpire has his trademark.
No one could miss the portly David Shepherd standing on one leg when the score was on a Nelson (111, 222, 333, and so on).
Steve Bucknor distinguishes himself by his unhurried demeanour when making a verdict.
And West Indians will remember the dynamic Billy Bowden from the recent tour of New Zealand for his flair and enthusiasm when giving any signal.
In the case of West Indies' newest Test umpire, his trademark is simple, yet uncommon among those in the profession.
Billy Doctrove, the first ever Dominican to officiate in a Test match, can be seen running around the ground and engaging in physical exercises before the start of any day's play.
If you didn't know him, you'd believe he was a player.
'I always believe that when I warm up, I feel part of the atmosphere,' was his explanation for his daily 15-minute routine.
'I like to get all my blood warmed up. I think I operate better when I warm up. It makes me feel comfortable.'
So, by the time the 44-year-old former FIFA referee walked out to the middle of the Antigua Recreation Ground last Thursday on the opening day of the third Test between West Indies and Pakistan, he was at ease.
'I had a little nerves the night before when I was having a discussion with the match referee and my colleague, but surprisingly, on the day of the match, I felt very, very comfortable,' he said.
His introduction to Test cricket has not been without excitement.
Typically, the Pakistanis have constantly bellowed appeals, but the umpire of 15 years' experience has remained unruffled.
'I'm very satisfied with the first two days,' Doctrove told SUNSPORT yesterday morning.
'There is pressure, but I think I have handled it well.'
Doctrove has made rapid progress since standing in his debut firstclass game in his native Dominica in 1991, but it was somewhat by accident that he was introduced to one of cricket's most demanding jobs.
As a schoolboy, he happened to be at a match in which one of official umpires was late and he was asked to fill in.
The president of the local association was satisfied with his job in the pre-lunch session, and it was enough encouragement for Doctrove to join the Dominica Umpires' Association a year after leaving school in 1975.
He stood in his first regional match six years later.
At that point, standing in a Test match 'was the furthest thing from my mind', he said.
It was by sheer hard work that this sports officer in Dominica's Ministry of Education and Sports reached the top.
'You have to be very patient, because the progress is a very, very slow one,' he admitted.
'It is a very long haul to get to the top. You have to continue working very hard, do as many games as possible, try and keep as focussed as possible and try and keep updated with the laws.'
When he was awarded the first of his nine One-Day Internationals two years ago during the home series against England, he felt it was a sign that he was close to being selected for a Test.
His mission achieved, he beams with pride at the distinction of becoming only the second Windward Islands representative to officiate at the highest level.
'It is an honour and privilege to be the first Dominican to do a Test match,' Doctrove said, while acknowledging the support he has gained from his countrymen and several others around the Caribbean.
In spite of the close scrutiny and criticism umpires face, his passion for the job is perhaps second to none.
'You have to enjoy umpiring to continue it,' he said.
'I love the game so much, although I was not a player, I wanted to be part and parcel of it in some area.'
Doctrove was a player of some merit and was twice invited to trials for the Dominica team.
To this day, he still finds time to play in the Intermediate competition. In between, he also referees a few Division 1 football matches, although he gave up his FIFA badge in 1997 to concentrate on cricket.
Doctrove credits Philip Alleyne for his early development and is high in praise for West Indies' leading umpire Steve Bucknor and Basil Morgan of Montserrat.
He lists among his hobbies and interests things such as tennis, boxing, athletics and most other sports, travelling, surfing the Internet, meeting people and enjoying life.
For now, Doctrove is enjoying life as the new 'kid' on the umpires' block.