David Shepherd: cricket world pays tribute to ‘terrific’ umpire

My big memory of Shep is of him walking to square leg when the score was on 111, and the cheer from the crowd when he did his little hop. He had a huge amount of respect within the game, and generally had a lovely manner about him.

When I was coming up in the game, we would always share a pint of bitter with him after the day’s play. I’m afraid those days might be past now: players and umpires don’t mix together as much as they used to.

Shep was standing in the game when I made my first Test hundred. In fact it was also the match where he made a few mistakes with no-balls that took wickets. But all the England players had huge faith in him. We knew he was trying his hardest and everyone has a bad game every now and again.

He would say "Good shot" or "Well played", and he was always ready with a little bit of advice, especially to youngsters. He wanted to see young players get the best out of themselves. Shep was just a terrific bloke who always made sure that the game was played in the right spirit.

Peter Willey, chairman of the Professional Cricketers’ Association:

"Shep was a great umpire, a superb ambassador for the game, and quite simply one of the nicest blokes I have ever met. He was always ready to help his colleagues out, and we all looked up to him. You don’t umpire that many games without being a true professional. The surprising thing about him was that he was actually quite nervous about his umpiring and he always wanted reassurance. He would put in a marvellous performance and then turn to you and say ‘How did I do?’"

David Constant, former Test umpire:

"David Shepherd was a tremendously popular man. He was such great company that it was always a pleasure to stand in a match with him. I always used to think that he looked like an umpire from central casting: if you turned up for a cricket match on the village green, you would expect to find someone rotund and red-faced – someone like Shep, in other words. He just fitted the archetype. And let’s not forget, he made very good decisions."

Barrie Leadbeater, former first-class umpire:

"I started on the first-class list in the same season as David, 1981, and I also stood in his first one-day international at Swansea two years later. Somehow we managed to lose the key to the umpires room, so every time I saw him he used to say, ‘Have you found that key yet, Barrie?’ His man-management skills were tremendous and he had a lovely nature about him. His mannerisms – like the hop and the skip – were all completely natural. He had been doing that since he was a boy. He didn’t have to put on a persona, as with some other umpires we could mention."

David Morgan, president of the International Cricket Council:

"David was a true gentleman of the game. He was a fine player and a match official of the very highest quality. He will be remembered fondly by players, spectators and administrators who saw him as a great entertainer but also as one of the best umpires the game has ever seen.

"The example he set as someone who took the art of umpiring very seriously while also enjoying what he did immensely will leave a lasting legacy for the game. He was an engaging character which meant players and other umpires were always delighted to be around him. We have lost someone whose positive influence on our great sport has been immense."

David Collier, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board:

"Shep was not only one the greatest umpires of all time but he was also a friend to all involved in cricket. His cheery personality created a wonderful atmosphere at every match in which he was involved and he will be sadly missed by everyone involved in cricket throughout the world."

Collective tribute from the international umpiring panel:

"Shep was one of the truly great cricket umpires that we have seen but more importantly he was one of the true gentlemen of the game of cricket. The international umpires will fondly remember his smiling face, his warm personality and his ever helpful demeanour.

"Shep helped so many umpires in so many ways and contributed to numerous umpiring careers – many are indebted to him. Every time we see Nelson on the scoreboard, we will be thinking of Shep’s little jig and saying a quiet ‘thank you’ for having him as one of us. As Shep would always say to every umpire he worked with on the way out to the middle, we now say to him: ‘Good luck mate, and may your God go with you.’"

Shep may have left us but his legacy of excellent people-management and top-class umpiring will remain with us forever.

© The Telegraph Group, London, 2009

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