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Jan 08, 2008 at 03:47pm IST

Love him or hate him, Bucknor is one of cricket's greats

Stephen Anthony Bucknor OJ or Steve Bucknor, as he is popularly known, may be in the news for all the wrong reasons, but what the controversies eclipse is a smart, if not bright, career as a sports referee spanning over 20 years.

Facing his first serious crisis in his career as an umpire after the ICC decided to unceremoniously remove him from the ongoing India-Australia Test Series, Bucknor suddenly finds a rare blight taking the sheen off some great records and accolades that he has earned over the years.

In fact, Bucknor has the maximum number of records in his name as a cricket umpire, and in spite of his infamously poor umpiring decisions — particularly against India — he incidentally has a high record of 'right decisions' as an umpire.

LONG INNINGS: Bucknor plans to continue umpiring till 2011 in spite of speculation that his hearing might be in decline.

In 2005-06, Bucknor got 96 per cent of his decisions right, which was above the average of 94.8 per cent for the Elite Panel as a whole.

He was also short-listed for the Umpire of the Year award in 2007, which was ultimately won by Simon Taufel. He has received ICC's Bronze Bails Awards for umpiring in 100 ODIs and the Gold Bails Award for adjudicating in maximum Test matches. Bucknor was also awarded the Order of Jamaica for his service to cricket.

Bucknor, nicknamed 'Slow Death' for the agonisingly long time that he takes to give LBW decisions, has adjudicated in 100 Tests till date, higher than anyone else. He broke Dickie Bird's record in 2002. His umpiring record in ODIs is third highest after Rudi Koertzen and David Shepherd.

Interestingly, the man who has time and again come in for criticism for his poor umpiring decisions against India, started his career as both ODI and Test umpire in matches that involved India.

His first international cricket fixture was between the West Indies and India at Antigua on March 18, 1989 while the first Test was at Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica, between April 28 and May 3, 1989, also involving West Indies and India.

Within the next three years, Bucknor was selected to umpire at the 1992 Cricket World Cup in Australasia. He even went on to stand in the final. He also stood in the next four World Cup finals in 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007, the last one in his native West Indies.

Thus far, Bucknor has been an on-field umpire in five World Cup tournaments, during which he has officiated in 44 matches including five finals, another record.

Yet such is his performance in matches against India that he has been nicknamed 'Ducknor' in Indian media.

Bucknor, who was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on May 31, 1946, was a high school maths teacher and sports coach before becoming Jamaica's most famour sports official and international football referee and then a cricket umpire.

He was a FIFA referee in the World Cup qualifier between El Salvador and the Netherlands Antilles in 1988, but he could not continue as referee for longer after FIFA lowered the age limit for referee to 45.

In cricket, however, Bucknor has plans for a long innings. Now 61, Bucknor plans to continue umpiring till 2011 in spite of speculation that his hearing might be in decline.

After back-to-back records, Bucknor is now on his way to complete a record 120 Tests in 2008, that is only if cricket fans don't turn too harsh on him and refuse him a slow passing. And love him or hate him, this man will go down as a great cricket administrator in the annuls of cricket in spite of all his flaws.

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