Proving the notion that only cricketers can entertain on the field wrong, Brent Fraser ‘Billy’ Bowden was an umpire with unconventional signaling attributes. Umpiring in a cricket match is considered to be a job of consequence. It is a job which requires a lot of application. Resultant of which, the umpires are generally very serious-faced.
Nevertheless, Billy Bowden had his own way of umpiring. A way which comprised of cheerfulness and an added element of fun. Umpiring was not his first love. Playing was. But not everyone is fortunate enough to continue life with his/her first love. Rheumatoid arthritis forced him to leave the game as a player but pursue as an umpire.
Bowden, who turned 54 yesterday, hails from New Zealand. He is renowned for his “crooked finger of doom” out signal. Not that he deliberately does it for fun, suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, it was too painful for him to signal a batsman out in a conventional way. Adding the “crumb-sweeping” wave of the arm to signal four, and the “double-crooked finger six-phase hop” to his armor, he became a certain entertainer on the field.
Officiating in a New Zealand vs Sri Lanka ODI in Hamilton, he made his ODI debut in 1995. Bowden was 32 years old at that time. Five years down the line, he made his test debut at Auckland in a New Zealand vs Australia encounter. Another five years down the line, he made his T20I debut at the same venue, officiating in a contest between the same teams.
He was asked to umpire in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 and was the fourth umpire in the final between India and Australia. Success followed him as he was promoted to the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires, of which he was a member till 2013. In January 2007, he became the youngest umpire to officiate in 100 ODIs. In June 2013, he was dropped from the ICC Elite Panel of Umpires. On July 1, 2014, Bowden returned to the elite panel but was dropped again a year later. In this duration, he was one of the 20 umpires, who stood in matches during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
Bowden has officiated in 84 test matches, 200 ODIs, and 24 T20Is. With an experience of 22 years in umpiring, Bowden has been involved in some jolly incidents on the field. He is one of the umpires whom even the players get along very well on the field. Watch the video to see some of his on-field jovial incidents: