When a dreamer wishes upon a star, it makes no difference to it as who you are. Anything one’s heart desires can be achieved through sheer hard work, perseverance and patience. If one’s heart is in one’s dreams, nothing is too extreme to chase. So, when any dreamer wishes upon a star, normally as any person would do, then reality will definitely be shining upon you! That is the story of the veteran umpire Shahvir Keki Tarapore who first started out as a cricketer for Karnataka and then his passion took him one step further as he always wanted to be out there in the middle of the field.
Having officiated as an umpire in 4 Tests, 25 ODIs & 3 T20s, life still had other surprises awaiting him. He recently became only the third umpire to have stood in his grand 100th first class match played between Odisha & Jharkhand. He has shown great consistency over the years as an umpire at each level. He is someone who thinks on his feet, reacting instantly to a situation with a cool and calm mind. On the grand occasion of his 100th first class cricket match,Shahvir Tarapore had a great discussion on various aspects of the game with CricFit Author Binaisha M. Surti. What started off as an interview turned into a memorable conversation between the two as Shahvir revealed many interesting things from an umpire’s perspective.
Coming from a cricketing family, what impact did your father the great ‘Keki Tarapore’ have on you when it came to taking up the sport of cricket?
Shahvir: Cricket was there in the family. Not only did my father play first class cricket, his elder brother too played the sport. So yes my father did have a big impact on me during my playing days as he was the one who put me on track. He would take me along when he would have coaching assignments…so indeed he gave me the initial push and asked me to try my hand at various things. Further, I started playing for my school in the under 14 side and from there onwards it just carried on.
Which amongst the three gave you the most satisfaction…life as a cricketer, coach or an umpire?
Shahvir: All three are very different and it is very difficult to pinpoint on one. As a cricketer you always mingle around with your seniors and one plays with top class cricketers during tournaments and I always enjoyed playing as long as it lasted. Later I did try my hand at coaching. Finally after my playing days were over, I took up umpiring. As a first class cricketer I always enjoyed being out there in the centre so the only way to remain close to the game and right in the centre was to do umpiring and I enjoyed umpiring too right from day one till date.
It is a great achievement to stand in your 100th first class match as an umpire. Your take on this significant milestone?
Shahvir: A cricketer lands up getting a lot of hundreds, whether be it a batsman or bowler and further batsmen can even get thousands of runs. So that way an umpire very rarely in his career gets an opportunity to do 100 games and I am very happy to be one among them. At least from India we are now three of us who have achieved this figure. It was a feeling of elation, great happiness that whatever I achieved. When I also started umpiring at the highest level, my ambition was also to later become a Test umpire and along that way this achievement has also come my way.
On field every player looks to outsmart the other during a game but give us a glimpse of what goes on in the mind of an umpire while the game is in process?
Shahvir: Technically the meaning of an umpire in the dictionary is to be a judge. Out there you have to be unbiased, not get carried away by the situation or for that matter who is playing. One has to be very strong in the mind and has to know the laws and the playing conditions too. I also have the backing of being a first class cricketer so it becomes easier to understand the mind-set of a player of what he is going through. So that helps me a lot. I do make notes after the game is over while watching videos of the match. During domestic matches in India right from the under 16 level we have 6 cameras, so yes we do see our videos too as umpires. Most of the domestic games are played with static cameras. Watching videos is a great source of learning with the help of technology. The videos show all the decisions which we make, some brilliant ones while some which may have not gone our way. So we learn from them.
Memories you have of umpiring in your first ever match way back in 1991?
Shahvir: Yes, it was in Mandi in the year 1991 between Services and Himachal. I remember in that particular match, I was hit on the shin as I was standing at square leg. Talking about nervousness…as an umpire or even as a player when you start a game you tend to have those butterflies in your stomach. It is a very normal feeling which every human being has when you start off with a new thing on a given day.
Just like cricketers, even umpires have to prepare themselves before a game. How different is your preparation for Tests, ODIs and T20s?
Shahvir: Basically I am not a fitness fanatic. But I always try to stay fit by doing my usual morning jogs, little bit of treadmill. That has been my physical fitness regime. While on the other hand, I like to brush myself up with reading the laws and knowing the playing conditions. I also try to keep my mind cool and calm. You prepare yourself as how you have been doing it over the years.
What are the various aspects that have kept you going as an umpire over the last 25 years?
Shahvir: A few good hundreds and plenty of wickets and the cricketers come into the limelight. But when it comes to us, we umpires always take the backseat and our growth is not that fast. It is passion and patience that has kept me going. For me it has been a journey of 25 long years which has been great and I cherish every moment of it. It has helped me travel the world, meet different people, learn about various cultures which in turn helps you in your daily walk of life. For that I thank my family, my association KSCA and BCCI.
Share with us moments you cherish the most in your umpiring career spanning 25 years?
Shahvir: There have been a few for me. The first one being the day I got my ICC posting to do my first Test Match in Dubai between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2011. Then I have been lucky to witness Sachin Tendulkar’s three highest scores in ODIs…First being 186 against New Zealand in Hyderabad which was again my debut ODI game in 1999. Further the 175 he scored against Australia again at Hyderabad and finally being the first cricketer ever to create history by becoming the first batsman to get a double ton in ODIs Vs South Africa at Gwalior.
Umpiring is always a challenging job and you must have faced up’s and down’s in your career till date during decision making on field. How did you overcome those stages?
Shahvir: It is not of what you think about before or after a decision has been made on field, I have always believed that one needs to be present in the moment. Earlier I might have made some brilliant decisions but that has gone… as it is history. The next ball is important. That is how I have umpired all these years. I have always looked to concentrate on what is coming up next.
Your thoughts on the use of various technologies and the current DRS system?
Shahvir: I have been lucky enough to work in both eras. The era before technology came in and I have also worked with DRS. It is good for the game…but that is my personal view on it. Basically what are we there as umpires for…to get the decisions right for the benefit of the game. So if we can make the correct decision with the help of technology then why not.
Message to young budding umpires who too dream to officiate in a Test Match just like you did?
Shahvir: One has to be updated with the laws of the game,at the same time you have to have the passion and patience to go along the way. Take the disappointments and glory days in your side as that is the way to survive.