Decoding how lockdown has affected the lives of Cricket Umpires
Umpires are an integral part of this beautiful game and without their presence the very existence of this game can be questioned. Just like how a referee holds an important place in a wrestling ring, a schoolteacher holds an important place in the classroom, similarly umpire’s presence on the ground is of paramount importance.
With no cricket around since last 6 months, we at Cricketgraph decided to have a one on one talk with some of the umpires across all levels. We took their feedback on how they are coping up with the stress, mentally & financially during this lockdown phase….
Umpire Anil Yadav (Kandivali East, Officiates in corporate & professional tournaments all over Mumbai)
“Since the time lockdown has started, all the earnings have been stopped. I come from a lower middle class family & my source of income was completely dependant on cricket coaching and umpiring. I am badly impacted by this & actively looking forward to get any work opportunities so that I can earn to feed my family.”
Marcus Couto (BCCI Level Umpire, Mumbai)
The CCI wanted me to come on duty which includes 15 days a stretch in a month. However, i was scared so i adjusted my duty according to CCI employee upendra’s schedule (who attends CCI duty thrice a week) as it helped me in traveling in his car while avoiding public transport. The moment i gave it a thought to start working for 15 days in a stretch, i got to know about Upendra getting infected with Covid-19 !
Recently, a local umpire and BCCI anti corruption officer Suyog Chaudhary’s father died due to Covid and was scared seeing him run from pillar to pillar for his father’s admission in hospital. Things got worse to procure medicines for him. He did get all that done but the final result after getting admission to hospital for treatment was costly medicine. Suyog eventually lost his father within a week.
My retirement is due on 11th October, 2020 at CCI but I never knew retirement will hit me sooner! During this lockdown I have conducted over 25 webinars, distributed and purchased nearly 200 umpiring books from UK while I also got time to scan all the paper cuttings of last 25 years with the help of a photographer called Prasad. I am planning ahead for an umpire training online course & it’s been a net practice for me to spend my retired life….
Paresh Shah (Umpire in Community Tournaments since 8 years, Borivali West)
I have been umpiring since last 15 years and I can tell you 50% of my monthly income was dependant on my umpiring. I used to get 700 to 1200 Rs per match in the Gujarati community tournaments and on an average i used to officiate in atleast 15 to 20 matches a month. An income of almost 30k a month has stopped and now my only source of revenue is by selling masks and healthcare essentials. Really hoping cricket comes back at earliest as that is the last ray of hope for me.
Ajay Verma (Umpire in Mumbai Club Cricket Matches)
Entering into a pandemic was like a break from a hectic cricket weekend. Initially family time was the top most priority as even sunday’s we never got to spend time at home. Later, realizing we lost the main cricket summer and entered into the monsoon with no cricket was heartbreaking.
It was time to work on myself and was fortunate to be invited by few cricket academies to educate kids on cricket laws of the game, keeping me active and going through the laws to keep myself updated. Also attended seminars on various match management topics, getting in touch online with various dignitaries which was feasible through the new online mode.
I personally believe we are all in the same boat hit by a financial crisis too and still keeping the faith that time would change soon. Trying to be positive and taking months session by session as we do in a test match and making sure loved ones are healthy around was the prayer to god than. In the end, the pandemic has taught us all that it’s your own home and family that keep us safe.
Krishan Sharma Balli (BCCI-Officiating in Major tournaments in Delhi)
Salaries of umpires ranging from 10 to 50 matches are pending and even if we would have got that much money on time, it would have helped us a lot during this “no work” phase.
Earlier we would spend money freely but now have to take care of all the minor expenses. Umpiring has stopped since March and how will we run our homes? Right now we have little bit of savings which has helped us but how many months more will we be able to managee? Even senior level umpires have not received any support from any quarters and that is something i really wish changes for the better.
Sudhir Patil (Officiating in all MCA Tournaments from Mumbai to Virar)
Umpiring at local level is a very difficult job, you have to give decision within 3-5 seconds, there is no DRS, there is no third umpire , there is no ball tracker or any other technology, our job is actually more difficult than International umpires.
Sitting at home since last 6 months, there is no work for us, sab kaam dhanda band hai and obviously it has affected not just umpires but almost everyone in the cricket community. However, I would really like to thank MCA who has given us a great support. I started umpiring in 1985, stopped after a few years then again started since 2000 and doing non-stop till date. The game of cricket is god to us, it’s the game which has given back so much to us. We are thankful and staying patient that cricket resumes at earliest.
The lockdown has affected cricketers, coaches, umpires, maalis and literally everyone associated with the game. However, whenever we spoke with someone from the cricket community, we could see the positive attitude, never ending fighting spirit and ray of hope in all of them which is also a crucial attribute of the game itself.
On the other hand, the sports ministry has announced that all sports will gradually resume phase wise. With IPL now round the corner, cricket will now slowly see the light of the day gradually at all levels.