Billy Bowden has been scrapped from New Zealand Cricket’s (NZC) international panel of umpires after officiating in 84 Tests and 200 One-Day Internationals as a part of the major revamp of the New Zeeland’s umpiring ranks.
He is now demoted in the national panel along with Derek Walker and Phil Jones, while former first-class players Shaun Haig and Chris Brown have been promoted, along with Wayne Knights.
“It’s a massive opportunity for the guys and they deserve it based on their umpiring performances over recent seasons,” Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri, New Zeeland cricket board’s new match officials manager, revealed on Thursday (June 16). “We’re delighted to see more former players coming through the umpiring system and hope it continues to be seen as an attractive pathway.”
Bowden’s last stood as an on-field umpire during the Chappell-Hadlee series in Wellington in February earlier in the year. The umpire with crooked finger made his international debut against Sri Lanka in Hamilton in 1995. He had to wait for an additional five years to make Test debut.
In 2002 he was included in the Emirates Panel of International Umpires. Next year he was asked to umpire at the ICC Cricket World Cup in South Africa and was chosen to be the fourth umpire in the final between Australia and India.
Bowden has always been among the audience favourites enjoying his status on ICC’s elite panel because of his eccentric mannerisms.
He was apparently dropped from the elite panel in 2013, but after the retirement of Tony Hill in the subsequent year, he was reinstated. It lasted only an additional year as he was again left out in May 2015 after officiating his 84th Test between England and West Indies in Barbados. But being on New Zealand’s international panel, he could still continue his career in international matches.
But now only being a member of the national panel, which is believed to be an impact of the ICC expressing concern over the standard of umpires from New Zealand at the elite level, Billy Bowden can officiate women’s matches and domestic ones.
The 53-year-old flamboyant umpire amused cricket fans with his eccentric signals, particularly the crooked finger with which he indicated dismissals. Bowden once revealed that he couldn’t extend the finger because of arthritis. He has also put his own slant on several other signals, including a “crumb-sweeping” wave of the arm to signal four, and the “double crooked finger six-phase hop” to signal a six. His signals are sedated in Tests, more flashy in ODIs and decidedly flamboyant in T20 matches.
NZC international panel: Chris Brown, Wayne Knights, Shaun Haig.
NZC national panel: Billy Bowden, Chris Brown, Tony Gillies, Shaun Haig, Phil Jones, Wayne Knights, Ash Mehrotra, Tim Parlane, Derek Walker.