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Billy Bowden : A Real Entertainer of the Game

Umpire Billy Bowden with his “Crooked Finger” was so much famous around the world.

There is hardly anyone who haven’t heard the names of some of the greatest Cricketers. The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Warne, Muralitharan are so much familiar to us. But there are hardly some Cricket fans who know the names of the umpires who with a lot of dedication and hard work conduct the game over time and time. 


Umpiring is certainly an incredible job of the game. In those earlier days of the game, no one saluted or gave proper respect to their great efforts of the umpires. But the world faced a major change when in March 1995, Brent Fraser ‘Billy’ Bowden made his International umpiring debut. All the Cricket fans wholeheartedly welcomed that fresh and entertaining change in the game.

Early Life : 

Brent Fraser Billy Bowden was born in 11th April, 1963 in Handerson , New Zealand and is well renowned later on for his famous “Crooked finger of doom” out signal. The man was a real entertainer in the Cricket field. Along with the crooked finger action, there were also a sweeping action being slightly bent down to signal a boundary and in case of a six, he just pointed his both hands towards the sky just like a robot in a ridiculous fashion.                                                     
At that point of time with all his awkward action in the Cricket field, he made everyone including the players and spectators surprised thinking the reason behind this unusual signal. 

Actually Billy dreamt to be a Cricketer in his twenties before he was diagnosed with the rheumatoid arthritis. The condition might bring an end to his connection with the game but he found a way to be involved in the game without having to play.

International Career : 

Billy is considered to be one of the greatest ever to officiate the sport with all his remarkable signature. He brought a new dimension in umpiring. In all those matches where he featured, one could see an entire stadium cheering everytime Bowden with all his trademark signs and a friendly interaction with the players, tried to entertain the fans. Despite a serious job, he always tried to keep his work as light as possible.   

In March, 1995, he officiated his first One Day International Match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Hamilton. 5years later, he conducted his first ever test match. 2002 saw him to become a member of the Emirates panel of International Umpires. Billy was also appointed as the fourth umpire of 2003 and 2007 World Cup final. 

Bowden with his inclusion in the Elite panel of ICC Umpires in 2003, has umpired in 84 tests , 200 ODIs and 24 T-20s. He was dropped from the Elite panel after a review in 2013. Through he was truly appreciated by the fans and players for his duty over the past years. On July 1, 2014 he returned to the Elite panel but soon dropped again in 2015.

He was also selected as one of the 20 Umpires to be appointed in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup games. June 2016 saw him demoted to New Zealand’s National Panel.

Top 5 Billy Bowden moments in Cricket : 

Suffering from Arthritis , it was to much painful for Billy to show a batsman the convectional out signal. This awkward behaviour attracted both the fans and critics equally. New Zealand great Martin Crowe referred to him as  “ Bozo the Clown” . So we can have a look at top 5 funny and memorable Billy Bowden moments in his career –

  • Real Excitement About A Boundary :                    

It was an ODI game between India and England when this funny incident occurred before everyone. Kevin Peterson and Jonathan Trott had hold the ship of England batting steadily. Suddenly, on a glorious Boundary of KP, Billy went deeply bent down and with a immense energy signaled the boundary in his unique style. The crowd had just gone crazy as they cheered Bowden’s fun throughout the stadium.

  • Chasing His Hat :               

This was the 2013 Champions Trophy where Sri Lanka and England were facing each-other. English all-rounder Ravi Bopara hit a shot and that forced Billy to duck, and just to lose his hat in this process. Because of the windy condition, the hat was flying and Bowden was chasing it. Just when he almost had collected the hat, he fell down and ended up doing splits. Everyone including Billy was just laughing about the incident.

  • Keep Cool And Calm Johnson :                       

Another awkward incident took place in an ODI between the Aussies and the West Indies. Australian pacer Mitchell  Johnson bowled a sharp delivery that struck the pad of Deonarine Smith. Johnson started appealing with a loud cheer. Billy, who might not be fully convinced, walked away from the stumps to judge the pitching, moved back to his usual place just to raise his crooked finger to surprise Johnson and show a disappointed running Smith the way to the pavilion.

  • Producing ‘Red-Card‘ in Cricket :

You may have heard about using Red Cards in football for the rude behaviours of the players. But this time Billy made history by flashing out the first ever red card in Cricket to Glenn McGrath.

In a t-20 encounter between Australia and New Zealand, the Kiwis requiring 45 off the final ball, had no chance to gain victory. Realising it , McGrath jokingly tried to bowl a underarm delivery. Bowden, not impressed by the violation of the ICC Code of Conduct, showed McGrath the red card. McGrath was seen laughing as were the players, fans and commentators.

  • Have A Handshake :                         

On the 5th day of the 3rd Ashes test, Umpires Billy Bowden and Marais Erasmus were walking out to the centre to begin the day’s play. When Marias extended his hand for shake with his fellow umpire, Billy just was trying to hold hands with him. Erasmus realising it quickly withdrew and extended further just to handshake with his funny colleuge. All the incident that showed on the big screen ,brought a smile in everyone’s face.

End Of His Career : 

Bowden’s umpiring career came to an end when he was totally removed from the panel. His last match was his 200th ODI as an umpire between the Kiwis and the Aussies back in 2016. He advised the young Umpires not to give any excuses to their mistakes. “Don’t make excuses. Make your mistakes..so yeah look at it, listen to the people and then learn. So, look, listen and learn. If you can do those three, you will progress.” He may not appear again in an international match, but his awkward style and the funny smile in his face will remain in minds of all the Cricketers and spectators. Thanks Billy; you are a real entertainer in Cricket field.

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