It was 5:58 PM on 29th July when event host for the day Ganesh Iyer was looking into his watch and by wasting no further time, “PLAY” was called at sharp 6:00 PM to start “The Association of Cricket Umpires – Mumbai ” (ACUM) 35th-year celebration.
The body which was formed in 1982 to protect, guide and represent its Umpires in Mumbai has taken a wider shape at the present day. At the time when two associations for umpires were already formed and disappeared it was a tough task for its founders, I.M. Mamsa and Dara Pochkhanawalla but the seed which was planted yesterday by these servants of cricket has not gone wasted and Mumbai cricket like players has continuously produced top quality umpires for India.
It was the year 1997 when nine candidates from Mumbai Cricket Association cleared their BCCI Panel exam, all thanks to Mumbai Cricket Association and ACUM efforts. Probably the only time when one association has produced so many umpires to the nation and later on they all went to serve BCCI and MCA at the highest level. This batch of 9/97 has played a vital role in carrying forward that legacy of producing top class umpires from Mumbai set by M.V. Gothoskar, M.Y. Gupte, P.D. Reporter, D.N. Dotiwalla and Suresh Shastri who all officiated in test cricket. At Present, when other states are still finalizing their 2017-18 Calendar, MCA has already started its season with prestigious Kanga league and for this marathon season in which not less than 120 odd tournaments will be played, MCA and ACUM have already initiated training programs for the umpires.
It was a function not for players but for the unsung heroes of the game of cricket – Milind Rege, Ex- Mumbai Cricketer & Chairman of Selection Committee was pleased to see the event commence on time. He further went on to mention that it is the umpires who can shape a players career and how it important for any governing body of cricket to stand for their umpires and recognize their efforts.
The ACUM which has members coming from different backgrounds such as Engineers, Doctors, lawyers, charted accountants, businessman and it’s their passion for this game which compels them to devote their only holiday in a week for officiating a local Mumbai game. As Sachin Tendulkar once said, “Umpiring is the most difficult task in cricket” and one cannot confuse term “Umpire” with similar term “Referee”; the one who runs along with the players to evaluate whether every player is adhering to the rules of the game while at the other hand an Umpire looks like a lazy person whose one finger is more than enough to send a batsman back in dressing room but besides making decisions about legality of delivery, appeals for wickets and general conduct of the game in a legal manner , the umpires also have to conduct the game in right spirit and no wonder why this two gentleman’s still concluded their game with no physical infringement by the players most of the times. To do this, these lazy people have to always be one step ahead than players thinking and just by using their active eyes and mind define the flow of the game.
The success in any sport for any country majorly depends on the grassroots facilities of that sport in the nation and if Mumbai has won Ranji trophy for forty-one times or produced 66 Test cricketers for India out of total 289 Test cricketers it is mainly because Mumbai has asked them to clear their exams under watchful eyes of these umpires first.