Billy Bowden is perhaps the most amazing umpire in cricket history. With little umpiring skill at all he has managed to make it to the pinnacle of cricket with stupid gestures and nerd chic.
If umpires were under the same scrutiny from selectors as cricketers are, he probably would find himself umpiring cricket games in Queenstown during the winter.
Instead he is propelled into the test arena to ensure that we all have someone to laugh at. Like, Pauley Shore. The problem is, the laughs stopped about 10 tests in, and now what you have is cricket’s own bio-dome being replayed endlessly.
Even when Billy is in form, he never looks that confident. Today was not a day of form.
On a day when India and Australia put on a gourmet day of cricket, Billy took a shit on the buffet.
First was the Michael Clarke dismissal, or not. A simple caught at midwicket turned into a soap opera as Billy couldn’t decide if it was a no ball or not.
Then one of two scenarios played out:
Enter the KRUD (Katich Review of Umpiring Decisions). The newest innovation by the ICC to steam line the UDRS system. With Katich in place, no umpire ever needs to feel uncertain again as Katich can tell them what they need to know. Even if – upon watching the replay many times – it appears that he is not watching the crease. When signalling a KRUD you should choke yourself in the direction of the 3rd umpire.
Billy saw what he thought was a no ball, but then got caught up in the game and suddenly realised he hadn’t called it.
Neither scenario shows him in good light.
Later on Billy decided to intervene again when Ishant Sharma appealed for a leg before and Billy seemed to be deciding if it was out or not, but then called it a no ball several long seconds later. When the ball was bowled, there is no audible call.
Now, this seems simple enough, it is either a no ball, and therefore needs no deciding, or it is not a no ball, and you can give your decision.
As it turned out the ball pitched a fraction outside leg stump, not that Billy ever made a decision about that.
That one got worse when Billy’s no ball decision was just wrong. Late, wrong and nervy, just what we want from an umpire.
Somewhere in there he made an excellent decision for a caught behind, but people knew he was just building the drama for later on. No one took it serious. “Oh, that Billy, what a jokester”.
The final act was just for Indian fans, a personal message of gratitude. It was a tough one, and against the flow of no balls, a surprise ending, but giving Gotham City Gambhir out for dragging a ball from well wide of off stump back onto his pads was just about perfect.
It was the perfect end to his day.
And, hopefully his career.