David Shepherd (umpire)

David Shepherd (umpire)
David Shepherd
Personal information
Full name David Robert Shepherd
Born 27 December 1940(1940-12-27)
Bideford, Devon, England
Died 27 October 2009(2009-10-27) (aged 68)
Instow, Devon, England
Nickname Shep
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Batting style Right-handed
Bowling style Right-arm medium
Role Umpire
Domestic team information
Years Team
1965 – 1979 Gloucestershire
Umpiring information
Tests umpired 92
ODIs umpired 172 (1983–2005)
Career statistics
Competition FC LA
Matches 282 183
Runs scored 10672 3330
Batting average 24.47 21.34
100s/50s 12/55 1/13
Top score 153 100
Balls bowled 196 12
Wickets 2 0
Bowling average 53.00
5 wickets in innings 0
10 wickets in match 0 n/a
Best bowling 1/1
Catches/stumpings 95/– 34/–
Source: Cricinfo, 8 September 2007

David Robert Shepherd MBE (27 December 1940 – 27 October 2009[1]) was one of the cricket world's best-known umpires. He stood in 92 Test matches, the last of them in June 2005, and officiated in three World Cup finals.


Playing career

Shepherd had a reasonably successful, though late-starting, first class playing career for Gloucestershire, stretching from 1965 to 1979, and though he never came close to international selection he was popular both with his team-mates and the Gloucestershire supporters. He started with a bang, scoring 108 on debut against Oxford University, and made eleven more hundreds over the years, though only twice (in 1969 and 1975) did he average over 30. Never the slimmest of men even in his younger days, he relied more on his fine shot placement than speed across the ground, and his bowling was almost non-existent: he took only two wickets in his entire career. One famous incident at the Gloucestershire Cricket Club saw Shepherd hitting the ball so hard into the crowd that it knocked out a spectator reading a newspaper. The spectator was taken to hospital and recovered with only minor injuries.


In 1981, David Shepherd began his second career in cricket, and the one which was to make him world-famous, when he was appointed as a first-class umpire. Quickly recognised as being one of the fairest-minded and most able officials in the game, within two years he was part of the umpiring panel for the 1983 World Cup, and within four he was standing in his first Test: the fourth Test of the 1985 Ashes series at Old Trafford. Standing with him in this test was Dickie Bird.

From then on, Shepherd became a fixture on the international scene, his round figure instantly recognisable by players and spectators alike. He was a very jolly character, universally liked on and off the field. Perhaps his most famous quirk was his habit of lifting one foot off the ground whenever the score reached 111, or multiples thereof, they being regarded as unlucky by Shepherd in a ritual dating back to his childhood cricket team days.[2] The number 111 is known as the "Nelson",[2] and is considered unlucky for the batsman. Also famous was his tendency to shake his hand while signalling fours; to this day, many fans in cricket crowds mimic his action while celebrating fours.

He was part of the ICC's first panel of neutral umpires when this policy was adopted for international cricket in the 1990s, and retained his place unbroken until his retirement from umpiring in 2005.

As his retirement loomed, Shepherd was lauded wherever he went. He was given a guard of honour by the New Zealand and Australian teams during the series between the two countries in March 2005. After his last Test, that between West Indies and Pakistan at Kingston, Jamaica in early June, Shepherd was presented with a bat by West Indian captain Brian Lara. He was in fact given special dispensation by the ICC to umpire in an England Test at Lords as his final Test, but turned down the opportunity to maintain the ICC's neutral umpiring policy for Test matches.[3]

His fellow umpire Simon Taufel said of him, as quoted in his Wisden obituary: "What doesn't get highlighted is man-management skills, creating a happy environment for players to play in. And Shep was magnificent at that. The players had this enormous respect for him as a person. He put them at their ease and forged relationships that crossed all cultural and political divides." In that obituary, the obituarist himself wrote: "The authorities struggle for a definition of the Spirit of Cricket. Perhaps the best answer is David Shepherd.[4]

Shepherd was awarded the MBE for services to cricket in 1987, and he became the President of his home county club Devon in 2006.

Family and personal life

Shepherd was born in Bideford, Devon. His father was Herbert, an umpire for North Devon Cricket Club; Shepherd had a brother, Billy. Shepherd latterly lived in the nearby seaside village of Instow. He was married to his longtime partner, Jenny, from 2008 until his death.

He died of lung cancer on 27 October 2009 in Devon.[5][6][7]


External links

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