When the umpire turned doctor
- Pankaj Athawale
Mumbai - Veteran umpire Madhav Gothoskar enjoys the unique distinction of having seen the sport of cricket evolve from the days of leisrely gentlemanly play to the era of branded accessories and instant sporting gratification.
In a chat with Mumbai Live, Gothoskar let unspool his memories of a time when players respected umpires, and were regarded the guardians of the game. The sprightly 89 year old rued the fact that while umpires have had to evolve with the evolving nature of the game, it is often a 'thankless job'. Nowadays, umpires are not merely adjudicators of the sport, but are saddled with far more accessories than in the days of yore. "The umpires have to carry numerous things," laughs Gothoskar, counting off the list of things an umpire has to wield on his person during play. "Apart from a counter, a ball gauge, scissors, pen, book, Panama hat and a walkie talkie, they now also need to carry a helmet and a camera!" All this apart of course, from the various sundry items the players themselves hand the umpire to hold!
Reminiscing about the old days, Gothoskar recalled an incident during a match when he turned doctor for a day. "I was carrying a few medicines and band-aids with me. Players kept coming up to me for aspirin, bandages and other medicines. After a while, some players from the other team walked up to me asking for a medicine thinking I was the team doctor!" he laughs.
Gothoskar, who has since retired from the sport, has a few tips for new umpires as well.
"Always know the rules, keep yourself updated with amendments to the rules, and most importantly, enjoy the game!"