Farewell Sheps

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A sad day for the cricket world. David Shepherd has died after a long battle with cancer.

Shepherd was a renowned international umpire and officiated in 172 ODIs, including three consecutive World Cup finals, and 92 Tests between 1983 and 2005. His good-humoured approach to officiating and quirky superstitions – most notably his ‘jig’ when scores reached 111 or a multiple thereof – made him a favourite with players and spectators the world over. When one considers his considerable bulk, that ‘jig’ was an effort.

Sheps was also famous for his tussles to get to the front of the lunch time buffet queue with that other well-known feaster – Bob Woolmer.

Shepherd was appointed a first-class umpire in 1981, and made his international debut at the 1983 World Cup. He would go onto become one of the game’s most decorated and beloved officials. Only Steve Bucknor and Rudi Koertzen have stood in more Tests.

His last Test match was between West Indies and Pakistan in Kingston in June 2005 – after which Brian Lara presented him with a bat inscribed with a message thanking him for “the service, the memories and the professionalism” – and his final county appearance came at his former home ground of Bristol. Shepherd had represented Gloucestershire as a batsman over a 14-year career, which included 282 first-class matches and 12 centuries.

Upon his retirement from umpiring, Shepherd returned to Devon and remained involved with his local club. He married Jenny, his long-time partner, in 2008.

In confirming his passing on Wednesday, a statement on the Gloucestershire website spoke of Shepherd’s “cheerful west country approach.” “He was respected by all with whom he came in contact, especially the international players whom he encountered in so many Test Matches,” the statement continued. “He always brought a smile to all our faces. For him cricket was a lovely game, a simple game and a game to be enjoyed. He himself brought so much enjoyment to so many of us.”

One of the first personal tributes to come in was from his long-time colleague, Dickie Bird. “I feel very saddened this has happened,” Bird told Sky Sports. “He was a fine umpire, we spent many happy hours together. He was a great man and a tremendous man to umpire with. He was a good bloke, he’ll be sadly missed.”

RIP – Cricket needs characters and no one was greater than David Shepherd.

[thanks to Cricinfo for the stats]

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