All cricket fans might be aware of the difficulty in the task of umpiring. They have to maintain fair and disciplined gameplay throughout the game.
Most of the time, cricket umpires are criticized for their harsh decisions and hardly get the credit they deserve. Yet, the umpires have immense responsibilities while they are on the field.
Their decision places a lot of weight on the game. Therefore, umpires need to have intense focus and correct decision-making ability.
Since 2008, Decision Review System (DRS) has been used in cricket. Formerly known as the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), this system assists the officials in making a decision. However, this has also put more strain on the umpires.
Some have dedicated their lives to the sport; these umpires need the recognition they deserve. Thus, we have come up with a list of the best umpires in cricket history.
Let us look at the list together and celebrate these important figures of the cricket world.
15 Best Umpires in The History of Cricket
The list has primarily been compiled with references from Kreeon.com. Let us look at a quick preview of the list before getting into the details.
|Name of Umpires
|15. Nitin Menon
|14. Kumar Dharmasena
|13. Rudi Koertzen
|12. Marais Erasmus
|11. Nigel Llong
|10. Srinivas Venkatraghavan
|9. Ian Gould
|8. Billy Bowden
|7. Daryl Harper
|6. Steve Bucknor
|5. David Shepherd
|4. Aleem Dar
|3. Tony Hill
|2. Dickie Bird
|1. Simon Taufel
15. Nitin Menon
The number 15 on our list is Nitin Menon. A former List A cricketer, he is best known for his umpiring. Born on November 2, 1983, Menon’s father was also an umpire.
Menon umpired his first Twenty20 International (T20I) match on January 26, 2017. He stood as an umpire in the match between India and England.
Similarly, on March 15 of the same year, he umpired his One Day International (ODI) match between Afghanistan and Ireland. Menon umpired his first test match between Afghanistan and the West Indies in November of 2019.
Likewise, he was one of the twelve on-field umpires for the 2018 ICC Women’s World Twenty20. Along with Ian Gould, he also served in the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL).
Menon received praises from the cricket fraternity during England’s tour of India in 2021. With so many achievements, he is one of the finestumpires in the game.
14. Kumar Dharmasena
Kumar Dharmasena is a former Sri Lankan international cricket and currently serving as a cricket umpire. He was born on April 24, 1971, and represented his country in Tests and ODI matches.
Dharmasena made a record for playing the most ODI innings during his playing career. Similarly, he and Dulip Liyanage, a fellow Sri Lanka cricketer, set the record for their country’s highest 8th wicket run stand in ODI cricket.
In 2006, Dharmasena announced retirement from his playing career. After which, he announced his plans to become a competitive umpire. He was able to make his plan come true.
He umpired his first ODI and T20I match in 2009. After his ODI umpiring, Dharmasena became the youngest Sri Lankan to umpire any international match. Likewise, he umpired his first tests matched in 2010.
His notable umpire career awards include the David Shepherd Trophy for the ICC Umpire of the Year at the 2018 ICC Awards. Likewise, he has been part of many other matches since then.
13. Rudi Koertzen
We have a former international cricket umpire on our number 13 of the best umpire in cricket history. Born as Rudolf Eric Koertzen on March 26, 1949, Rudi Koertzen started his umpire journey in 1981.
Since his younger days, Koertzen was a cricket enthusiast. He also played league cricket while working as a South African clerk for a short while.
His first official umpiring was on December 9, 1992, at the ODI. Then the same year, he umpired his first Tests match. However, he umpired his first T20I match in 2007.
In 1997, Koertzen became a full-time ICC umpire. After that, in 2002, he became one of the original members of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires.
His career awards include ICC Bronze Bails Award for 100 ODIs, ICC Silver Bails Award for 200 ODIs, and ICC Golden Bails Award for 100 Tests. With these three achievements, he became the first umpire to be awarded all three of these awards.
He was famous for his signature action of slowly raising his Index finger to indicate that a batsman was out. In 2010, Koertzen announced retirement from umpiring.
12. Marais Erasmus
Born on February 27, 1964, Marais Erasmus is a former first-class cricketer who transitioned into the umpire. Currently, he serves as a cricket umpire and is a member of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires.
Erasmus started his first-class cricket journey in 1988/89. From 2002/03, he started his umpiring journey for first-class cricket. His first big debut umpiring was in 2006 T20Is in a match between South Africa.
Likewise, Erasmus’s first ODIs umpiring was the following year in 2007. He stood as an umpire for the Tests and WT20I match in 2010. Since then, he has been part of various panels of different game formats.
Erasmus was awarded David Shepherd Trophy in 2016 and ICC Umpire of the Year 2021 for his umpiring. He is the first South African to win the David Shepherd Trophy and the fifth umpire overall.
11. Nigel Llong
On our number 11 of the best umpire is another former first-class cricketer and cricket umpire, Nigel Llong. Born on February 11, 1969, he serves as an umpire for all three game formats.
In 1990, Kent made his first-class cricket debut. He was well-known for his unusual style of batting. In 2002, he was included in the England and Wales Cricket Panel of first-class umpires.
In 2005, Kent stood as an umpire for his very first T20I match. Similarly, in 2006, he umpired his first ODI match between Pakistan and West Indies.
In 2008, he umpired his first Tests match game between New Zealand and Bangladesh. His other notable games include the 2007 T20 World Championship, 2015 Cricket World Cup, and 2019 Cricket World Cup.
10. Srinivasaraghavan Venkatraghavan
We have another Indian umpire on our number 10 of the best umpire list. Born on April 21, 1945, he is a former cricketer who also captained the Indian cricket team in the first two ICC Cricket World Cups.
Venkatraghavan was one of the famed Indian quartets of spin bowlers during the 1970s. In 1985, he retired from first-class cricket and became a cricket administrator.
After that, in 1993, he made his Test umpiring debut in a match between India and England. Likewise, he also made his ODI game umpiring debut the same year.
Some of his career highlight matches include six Ashes Tests, and he was also part of the World Cups in 1996, 1999, and 2003.
In 2002, Venkatraghavan was included in the ICC Elite Panel. He was part of the Panel until he retired in 2004.
9. Ian Gould
Ian Gould is a former first-class cricketer and a former member of the ICC Elite Panel of cricket umpires. Born on August 19, 1957, he made his playing career debut in 1975 for Middlesex.
After his playing career, Gould transitioned into an umpire. He umpired his first ODI match in 2006. The same year, he also umpired his first T20I match. His first Tests match umpiring was in 2008.
In 2009, Gould became part of the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires. Some of his notable umpiring include the 2015 Cricket World Cup, 2019 Cricket World Cup, and 2020 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
Aside from cricketing, Gould also played football. Likewise, he also served as the English football club Burnham FC chairman.
Although he retired from umpiring in 2019, Gould returned to umpire in the 2020 Under-19 Cricket World Cup.
8. Billy Bowden
Famous for his “crooked finger of doom” out signal, Billy Bowden is our number 8 of the best umpire in the history of cricket. He is a former player who transitioned into umpiring.
Bowden retired from his playing career after suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. He umpired his first game in the 1995 ODIs match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
After that, Bowden stood as an umpire for the Tests match in 2000 and the T20I match in 2005. Meanwhile, he was a member of the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires until 2013.
As he had rheumatoid arthritis, he could not signal a batsman out in the conventional fashion due to pain. It gave birth to his famous crooked finger of doom signal.
Likewise, he is famous for other signs like the “crumb-sweeping” wave of the arm to signal four and the “double crooked finger six-phase hop” to signal a six. These flamboyant signals have earned him both fans and critics.
7. Daryl Harper
On our number 7, we have a former Australian cricket umpire, Daryl Harper. He played in the Adelaide grade cricket competition and made his first-class debut as an umpire in 1987.
Harper switched to umpiring in 1983 before making his first-class debut. Likewise, he made his ODIs umpiring debut in 1994 in a match between New Zealand and South Africa.
He made his Tests match umpiring debut in 1998 in the 2nd Ashes. Harper was part of the original lineup for the ICC Elite Umpire Panel. In 2009, he was the third umpire to stand for trial of the “player referral” system.
The most notable award of Harper’s career includes ICC Bronze Bails Award for 100 ODI. However, he has received several criticisms during his umpiring career.
He received unfair criticism from Indian players, which led him to later retire from his umpiring career. In 2011, he was demoted from the Elite Panel and retired from umpiring.
6. Steve Bucknor
Born as Stephen Anthony Bucknor on May 31, 1946, Steve Bucknor is a former Jamaican international cricket umpire. In addition, he was a football player, referee, and high school mathematics teacher.
Bucknor made his umpiring debut in the list A cricket match in 1978. On March 18, 1989, he made his ODI match umpiring debut in a game between West Indies and India.
Likewise, on May 3 of the same year, he made his first Test match umpiring debut in a match between West Indies and India. Since then, Bucknor has been part of many international games as an umpire.
Bucknor was part of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires from its foundation until he retired from umpiring. However, he was criticized for making several incorrect decisions during a Test match between India and Australia.
As a result, his decision contributed to India’s defeat at the match. Bucknor himself recalled making several incorrect decisions against India’s Sachin Tendulkar.
He was awarded the CC’s Bronze Bails Awards for umpiring in 100 ODI and the Golden Bails Award for umpiring 100 Test matches.
5. David Shepherd
David Shepherd has been called as world’s best-known umpire. He was a first-class cricketer who later became an umpire. He was born on December 27, 1940, and during his umpiring career, he umpired 172 ODI matches.
Shepherd began his first-class playing career in 1965 for Gloucestershire. He was popular among his teammates and supporters.
During his playing career, one of the famous incidents was when he hit the ball so hard that it knocked out a spectator who had to be taken to hospital. However, his playing career lasted until 1979, after which he retired.
Instead of becoming a coach, Shepherd decided to become an umpire. He first debuted as an umpire in a first-class match in 1981 and soon gained worldwide recognition.
He made his ODI umpiring debut in 1983 and Tests match umpiring debut in 1985. Likewise, Shepherd was part of the ICC’s first Elite Panel of neutral umpires until his retirement.
Shepherd is recognized as one of the fairest-minded and most able officials. Sadly, this legendary umpire passed away at the age of 68 on October 27, 2009.
4. Aleem Dar
On our number 4 is a former Pakistani cricketer and a cricket umpire, Aleem Dar. 55 year-old Dar is a member of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpire.
He made his debut in 1987 as a first-class cricketer. He played for Pakistan domestic teams like Allied Bank, Gujranwala, Lahore, and Pakistan Railways during his playing career. Then Dar made his umpiring debut in 2000.
His first ODIs match umpiring was in 2000 at a match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, he made his Test match umpiring debut in 2003 and T20Is umpiring debut in 2009.
In 2002, Dar was made a member of ICC’s International Panel of umpires. He has been awarded the Umpire of the Year award, best umpire award for three consecutive years, etc.
In the 2020, ODI match between Pakistan and Zimbabwe, Dar made a record of officiating the most ODI matches with the 210th ODI match.
3. Tony Hill
We are down to our top 3 best umpires. On our number 3 is a retired New Zealand international cricket umpire. Tonny Hill. He was born Anthony Lloyd Hill on June 26, 1951.
Hill made his first ODI umpiring debut in 1998 in a game between New Zealand and Zimbabwe.
Later, he made his Tests match umpiring debut in 2001 in a game between New Zealand and Bangladesh.
Likewise, Hill first umpired his T20I match in 2005. He is also a former member of the Elite Panel of ICC Umpires. The umpire was also appointed as a neutral umpire from New Zealand during this time.
2. Dickie Bird
Our number 2 best umpire spot goes to Harold Dennis “Dickie” Bird, most famously known as Dickie Bird. He played first-class cricket before becoming an umpire.
Bird played first-class cricket for Yorkshire but had to retire at age 31 due to a knee injury. He then turned to the coach and played league cricket before transitioning to the umpire. He made his first debut as an umpire in 1970.
Then in 1973, Bird umpired his first Tests match debut in a game between England and New Zealand. Similarly, he made his ODI match umpiring debut the same year.
Bird is one of the most respected umpires in cricket history. Aside from his fair decision-making ability, he is known for using his infectious humor and eccentric behavior.
He once arrived on the cricket ground five hours earlier as the Queen was visiting that day. In 1996, Bird received a standing ovation from the crowd, and two teams, India and England, formed a “guard of honor” as he came out.
Before his retirement, he had umpired 66 Test matches and 69 ODIs. Later he published his autobiography, which sold more than a million copies.
1. Simon Taufel
We have given our number 1 place for the best umpire to Simon Taufel. Born on January 21, 1971, he is a former Australian umpire and considered one of the most suitable umpires in the world.
Before becoming an umpire, Taufel played for Cammeray Cricket Club. However, despite having cricket talent, his career was cut prematurely due to a back injury.
Although Taufel had no intention of becoming an umpire, he agreed to an umpiring course with a friend. After quick progress, he debuted as an umpire in a first-class match in 1995.
He was only 24 when he made his umpire debut. In 1999, Taufel made his ODI match umpiring debut in the match between Australia and Sri Lanka.
Likewise, he made his Tests match umpiring debut in 2000 in a game between Australia and West Indies. Meanwhile, Taufel umpired his first T20I match in 2007. Taufel is a former member of the ICC Elite Umpire Panel.
Taufel’s most notable accolade includes ICC Umpire of the Year for five years consecutively and the ICC’s Bronze Bails Award for umpiring 100 ODIs. He is the youngest person to receive the ICC’s Bronze Bails Award.
The umpire’s role is necessary to maintain fair play in the game. Their ability to make intense observations and quick decisions can significantly change the game’s outcome.
So let us celebrate these individuals and give them their well-deserved recognition. What do you think about our list?