Warne leads tributes to 'great' umpire Shepherd

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 29, 2009 07:15 hrs

London: Former Australia leg spinner Shane Warne led the tributes for late Test and one-day umpire David Shepherd, who died of cancer on Tuesday at the age of 68.

"He was an absolute beauty and the world will miss him. I remember sitting up for four hours drinking with him in the bar after the World Cup final in 1996. He was a gentleman and great company," The Independent quoted Warne, as saying.

David Shepherd passes away

Simon Taufel, the Australian umpire, said that Shepherd taught him that "in order to be a good umpire, you needed to be a good person first".

THE MCC flag was flying at half-mast over the pavilion at Lord's yesterday as cricket mourned the loss of one of its most popular characters.

Shepherd, known to most people as 'Shep', saw his playing career end in 1979 and made his international debut at the 1983 World Cup. He would go on to stand in 92 Tests and 172 ODIs before retiring in 2005.

He stood in three successive World Cup finals, in 1996, 1999 and 2003, a mark of his renown for fairness and good humour.

A sign of how respected he was came in his final year as an international umpire, in 2005, when the ICC offered to put aside their rule about neutral umpires so that Shepherd could stand in one last Ashes series. He turned them down, but was touched by the offer.

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Spectators loved his solid build-in the white umpire's coat it was often remarked that he resembled a butcher-and his superstitious habit of hopping on one leg when the team score or a batsman was on 111.

Noting Shepherd's lack of athleticism-while praising his fitness even in hot conditions-Taufel said: "Shep and I had a deal going with each other on tour-I would do an extra lap for him in the gym and he would have an extra scoop of ice cream at the end of a day's play for me."

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