Tom Brooks entered umpiring late in life but quickly made the grade © The Cricketer International

Tom Brooks, the former New South Wales player and Test umpire, died on Monday aged 88. A life member of the NSW cricket association, Brooks made his first-class debut on New Year's Day in 1947 and went on to play 16 matches for the state, but he was most famous as an umpire.

Brooks stood in 23 Tests until his international career ended in a hurried manner in 1978, with him calling it quits during the lunch interval on the fifth day of the Ashes Test at Perth. "The old mental and physical machines weren't synchronising," he said, adding he would prefer to be watching the match than earning $800 for umpiring it.

He had made a series of errors in the game, culminating in him giving Graeme Wood out caught behind several seconds after the appeal and with John Lever, the bowler, already returning to his mark. At 48, Brooks had a relatively late start to his umpiring career, but within three years he had made his Test debut, standing in all but one of the Ashes Tests in 1970-71.

When the Melbourne Test in that series was washed out, the first ODI was hastily arranged, and Brooks created a little piece of history when he officiated with Lou Rowan. Brooks stood in all six Ashes Tests in 1974-75, and the Centenary Test in 1977. In all, Brooks umpired 92 first-class matches, including a season in England in 1977.

He had a reputation for being soft on short-pitched fast bowling, but until his final match had been well respected and was one of Australia's leading umpires. He was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his services to cricket in 1985.

A right-arm fast bowler, he was described by Jack Pollard as "a spirited bowler who moved the ball appreciably in the air". "Tom made an outstanding contribution to cricket over a long period of time," David Gilbert, Cricket NSW's chief executive, said. "He was an absolute gentleman who will be greatly missed."