This is the time when almost everyone has been missing their most favourable pursuits they do in life as the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to all outdoor activities.
Cricketers have been missing the thrill of playing in the middle, umpires are missing officiating matches while scorers and statisticians are longing to get back to writing scores and recording landmarks to the history of the game. As a cricket writer, I miss it all; not only the excitement of watching cricketers in action, but also reporting and talking to them after a great performance.
Being a qualified umpire before stepping into journalism, I also miss watching umpires in action, on how they interpret the laws and handle situations, especially during closely fought matches. Unfortunately, umpires are often discussed only when they make a mistake. They perform the most thankless job in the game. That was why I spoke to UAE’s International Cricket Council panel umpire Iftikhar Ali last week about the current state of umpires in UAE.
Scorers and statisticians’ jobs are also never appreciated. Despite that, they ensure every run and wicket is recorded with utmost perfection. To take on an umpire’s or scorer’s job, one must be an ardent lover of the game. They are people who literally eat, drink and sleep cricket. It has always been exciting to talk to renowned statistician Mohandas Menon. His knowledge of the game through numbers has always amazed me.
Scorers give us the scores and that is what we discuss after a match, but the scorers are never talked about. We believe that umpires and scorers are supposed to be doing their job but no one ever thinks about the passion and patience they have in them.
The Sharjah cricket stadium scorers are part of that venue’s rich history. Syed Mohammad Ali Jafri, who passed away in 2009 after keeping scores in 207 matches, was one such person. Another scorer who never misses a Sharjah match is Hakim Jariwala, a veteran who has scored for over 200 matches. Speaking to them is like a journey down memory lane. They are people who contribute greatly to preserving cricket’s tradition and rich history and make us feel proud over the deeds of cricketers.
With no action happening anywhere these days, a lot is now being written about cricket matches and performances from the past. Had the scorers not recorded these events meticulously, perhaps these stories would have been lost with the passage of time.
Many cricketers have been fortunate to be able to train at home; but the real people who miss the game completely are the umpires, scorers, and statisticians. If they have not been talked about when matches happen, let us at least spare a thought for these unsung heroes of the game during these times.