Wednesday 28 October 2009

Farewell Shep

There was something ineffably sad about David Shepherd's death, announced today. He held the respect and affection of the modern players he umpired, yet the essence of him was older; he was the embodiment of summers passed.

Part of that was physical. He was like something out of Laurie Lee, rotund, apple-cheeked, his face split by a life-affirming grin; not just an Englishman, but a west country man, unpretentious and as honest as the day is long.

He was appropriately superstitious - it's a country thing - and was said to spend every friday the thirteenth with a matchstick tied to his little finger so that he would be touching wood all day. He loved the game as much as anyone ever has, and he probably died unaware of how gently but gloriously he has touched it.

Everything you need to know about him is contained within one lovely anecdote. Throughout his professional life, he used to return from whichever far-flung field he'd been adjudicating at to his brother Bill's post-office and newsagents in North Devon, always up with the lark to help with the morning paper round.

'Bloody hell Shep,' said one villager, 'I'm about to read a report of the game you umpired in Sharjah yesterday, and here you are delivering the paper to my door'.

Just like Arlott and Johnson, David Shepherd has been loved, and he will be missed.


Brit said...

And Bearders.

RIP Shep. 68 seems young (bloody hell, gets closer every year, doesn't it?).

The Old Batsman said...

Yes, he was one of those guys who always seems to have been 68 though. Even when he was young, he looked old...

Patricia said...

I loved the way he used to skip for luck when a team was on 111.