Dickie Bird is a former English international cricket umpire, born on 19th April 1933 in Barnsley, Yorkshire. Bird was one of the most popular and famous umpires during his time due to his on the field theatrics and his ability to take perfect decisions.
Dickie Bird was a right-handed batsman during his playing days. He played in a Barnsley side which had the likes of Geoffrey Boycott and journalist Michael Parkinson.
Bird represented Yorkshire during their period of dominance in the late 1950s. He struggled to find a place in the first eleven due to the strength of the side. He was dropped from the side after scoring his career best knock of 181* against Glamorgan as senior players returned from Test match duty.
Bird moved to Leicestershire later that year and scored more than 1,000 first-class runs in his first season.
He retired from playing cricket at a relatively age of 32. Bird spent a few years coaching and playing as a club professional after his retirement.
Bird officiated his first game in 1970. He officiated his first Test match in 1973 at Leeds in a match between England and New Zealand.
Bird umpired in two more Test matches in that season and both of them turned out to be eventful. In the first of those matches, Bird had to umpire from both ends as his fellow umpire refused to continue in protest against the conduct portrayed by the West Indies players.
In the other Test, Bird and the players sat down in the centre of the pitch after there was a bomb scare at Lord’s. The crowd quickly evaporated but the players sat there knowing there cannot be any bomb in the pitch.
Bird quickly gathered a reputation of stopping play for bad weather and developed a couple of controversies regarding the same. He also had the habit of not giving batsmen out by LBW.
Besides officiating in Zimbabwe’s inaugural Test match, Bird also took part in three Cricket World Cup finals.
Bird umpired in a total of 66 Test matches in a career that spanned over twenty years. He also umpired in 69 ODI matches.
During the Centenary Test match between England and Australia at The Lord’s in 1980, Bird and fellow umpire David Constant refused to let play start as they felt parts of the field were waterlogged due to previous night’s rain in spite of sunny weather at present. This led to a scuffle between Constant and MCC officials with captains Ian Botham and Greg Chappell coming to Constant’s help. When play started, police had to escort the umpires to the field.
Bird umpired his final Test in 1996 when England took on India at The Lord’s. He received a guard of honour from the players and a standing ovation from the crowd. At the time of his retirement, his 66 Tests was a record and was the only umpire to have officiated in three World Cup finals.
Bird was awarded MBE in June 1986. In February 2014, Bird was voted as Yorkshire’s new president succeeding Geoffrey Boycott. Bird described the event as “the pinnacle of my life”.