The Best Cricket Umpires in the World: The Best in Business

Cricket umpiring has been a topic of intense discussion during the 2024 edition of the IPL. The high inconsistency of decisions has led to widespread criticism of umpiring standards. Recently, Virat Kohli's controversial dismissal against the Kolkata Knight Riders raised even more eyebrows about the credibility of the DRS and the judgement of the umpires. However, it hasn't always been the same case, with some cricket umpires excelling in their judgement and decision-making, consistently making the right call. This requires a lot of skill and patience, as they often find themselves at the centre of game-changing decisions and must make the right call without any bias. These are the best umpires in the world, always standing tall with the right call.

Virat Kohli and Faf Du Plessis discuss Virat Kohli's dismissal with the umpire
Credit: Hindustan Times

In this article by ZAP, let's look at the top 10 best umpires in cricket history:

Top 10 Best Umpires in Cricket History:

David Shepherd:

Umpire David Shepherd signals out
Credit: CricTracker

David Shepherd was a legendary cricket umpire, often even called the best umpire in cricket history, known for his exceptional skills and popularity. He followed in the footsteps of the renowned Dickie Bird, becoming one of the most beloved figures in cricket officiating. He umpired in three World Cup finals, a feat achieved by only a few. With a total of 92 Tests and 172 ODIs under his belt, he holds the record for the most capped international umpire from England. Shepherd was admired not only for his professionalism but also for his quirky superstitions and humorous gestures on the field. Sadly, he passed away on October 27, 2008, due to lung cancer.

Also Read: Cricket World Cup Winning Teams

Simon Taufel:

Umpire Simon Taufel signals a boundary

Simon Taufel is celebrated as one of the greatest cricket umpires ever. He was part of the ICC Elite Panel and won the prestigious David Shepherd award for the Best Cricket Umpire in the World five times in a row from 2004 to 2008. Taufel officiated in numerous high-profile matches, including the World Cup final in 2011 and the World T20 final in 2012. After retiring from umpiring, he served as ICC's Umpire Performance and Training Manager until October 2015. With 74 Tests, 174 ODIs, and 34 T20Is to his credit, Taufel's legacy remains unmatched. He'll always be remembered as a true legend of the game.

Also Read: How to become a cricket umpire

Steve Bucknor:

Umpire Steve Bucknor signals Out
Credit: The Quint

Steve Bucknor is widely regarded as one of cricket's best umpires. He holds the record for standing in five ICC Cricket World Cup finals, spanning from 1992 to 2007. Despite some controversies towards the end of his career, he remains highly respected. Known as "Slow Death" for his slow and meticulous decision-making, Bucknor also officiated in FIFA matches. He debuted as a cricket umpire in 1989 and went on to become the third most capped umpire in international history, overseeing more than 300 games. While his career ended with some criticism, his contributions to the sport are undeniable.

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Billy Bowden:

Umpire Billy Bowden signals a six in his iconic style
Credit: The Wall Street Journal

Billy Bowden, known for his distinctive crooked finger gesture, brought entertainment to umpiring and became a beloved figure in cricket. He gained immense popularity, even featuring in commercials for companies like PepsiCo. Despite the fame, Billy Bowden was a dedicated professional. He started umpiring internationally in 2000 and joined the ICC Elite Panel in 2003. Bowden was a favorite for high-profile matches like the Ashes and World Cup knockouts, including the memorable India-Pakistan Semifinal in 2011 because of his calm and composure with a strong decision making aptitude. Over his career, he officiated in 84 Tests, 200 ODIs, and 24 T20Is, joining an elite group of umpires with over 300 international matches. Bowden's last ODI appearance was in 2016, marking the end of a remarkable career.

Rudi Koertzen:

Umpire Rudi Coertzen recieves a guard of honour after his retirement game
Credit: ABP News

Rudi Koertzen, the South African umpire, is known for his slow raising of the index finger, adding drama to his decisions. He began umpiring in 1981 but entered the international scene around 1992 in an ODI between India and South Africa. Joining the ICC Elite Panel in 2002, Koertzen officiated in over 200 ODIs and more than 100 Test matches. He served as the third umpire in the 2003 and 2007 World Cup finals. Koertzen earned respect for rejecting match-fixing offers and was admired by both players and fans alike. He retired after the 2010 Test match between Australia and Pakistan, leaving the sport as one of the best umpires in cricket history.

Aleem Dar:

Umpire Aleem Dar signals a wide delivery
Credit: ESPN Cricinfo

Aleem Dar, the Pakistani cricket umpire, holds the record for the most matches officiated in international cricket. Over nearly two decades, he became the first umpire to surpass 350 matches and is nearing 400. Dar received the David Shepherd Trophy for the Best Cricket Umpire in the world three years in a row from 2009 to 2011 and maintained a flawless record in the 2011 World Cup, with all DRS reviews against his decisions being overturned. He officiated in multiple World Cups and reached the milestone of 200 ODI games after the 2019 edition, becoming the first Asian umpire to do so

Also Read: ICC ODI World Cup Winning Captains

Ian Gould:

Umpire Ian Gould Signals a Six
Credit: Times of India

Ian Gould started his cricket journey representing England in the 1983 World Cup as a wicket-keeper. However, his playing career didn't flourish as expected. Transitioning to umpiring in 2006, he quickly made his mark, officiating in 3 World Cup matches in 2007 and making his Test debut the following year. Known for his keen eye and humorous approach, Gould umpired in 251 international matches, including 140 ODIs, over a span of 13 years. He retired as an on-field official after the 2019 ICC World Cup match between India and Sri Lanka.

Richard Kettleborough:

Umpire Richard Kettleborough signals a wide
Credit: The Economic Times

Richard Kettleborough started as a cricketer for Yorkshire but soon turned to umpiring after a brief playing career. Initially facing criticism for his decisions, he improved over time and became a regular in high-profile matches. Making his umpiring debut in 2006, he joined the ICC elite panel in 2011. Known for his precision, Kettleborough won three consecutive David Shepherd Trophies from 2013 to 2015. He officiated in the 2015 World Cup semifinal and final. At 46, he still has many years ahead and is expected to climb higher in the umpiring rankings.

Srinivas Venkatraghavan:

Umpire Srinivas Venkatraghavan officiating a test cricket match
Credit: Times of India

Srinivas Venkatraghavan, known as Venkat, is considered one of the best cricket umpires from India. He captained India during the first two cricket World Cups. Venkat is the only Indian umpire to have been included in the elite panel of ICC umpires. After retiring as a player in 1993, he started his umpiring career, officiating in both ODIs and Test matches. Venkat was known for his quick decision-making, much like his play style as an off-spinner. His umpiring career spanned from 1993 to 2004, during which he officiated numerous matches.

Marais Erasmus:

Umpire Marais Erasmus catching a cricket ball
Credit: Inside Sport

Marais Erasmus is widely regarded as one of the best cricket umpires globally, known for his expertise and professionalism. He has officiated numerous international matches across all formats, including high-profile events like the Cricket World Cup and ICC Champions Trophy. Erasmus is praised for his consistent and fair decisions on the field. His umpiring record includes 119 Test matches, 174 ODIs, and 61 T20Is, showcasing his extensive experience and contribution to the sport.


Are there 2 umpires in cricket?

There are 2 umpires on the ground during a cricket match. The 3rd umpire officiates the match sitting behind the screen looking at replays of the Decision Review System.

Is there a 4th umpire in cricket?

Apart from the 2 umpires on the ground and the thrid umpire behind the screens, there is also the 4th umpire who takes care of the match balls and carries out the drinks for the on field officials.


Now that you have read about the best umpires in cricket history, here are some more articles about legends we recommend you to read:

GOAT of Cricket | GOAT in Women's Cricket | Best All Rounder of All Time

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