Andrew Alderson: The under-the-radar star from the summer of cricket
Short of putting Clark Kent behind the stumps at the non-striker’s end or eating a punnet of grated carrot for breakfast, you’ll struggle to match Chris Brown for cricket umpiring accuracy at present.
The consistency of decision-making across his first two tests has been remarkable.
Ten player reviews; 10 pleas struck down due to his basic instinct.
Eight came on debut at the New Zealand-West Indies test in Wellington.
The ninth and 10th were on the first day for the Black Caps bowling against Pakistan in Christchurch.
The visitors were struggling after lunch at 117 for four. A noise emanated when Trent Boult sneaked a ball through Mohammad Rizwan jabbing away from his body on 25.
Is it a bat? Is it a glove? No, Super umpire Brown decided it was a thigh pad. Correct.
To make that instant decision under the scrutiny of a live crowd and a television audience, who can verify the truth within seconds, requires courage and confidence.
Brown has demonstrated both.
The 10th was more straight-forward when Faheem Ashraf got a lumberyard’s worth of wood on an edge to Ross Taylor from Kyle Jamieson, yet presumably hoped the review mechanism had malfunctioned.
Brown has seen off his share of bowler shouts and batsman demands for and against lbw, as well as differentiating for the sound of wood with alacrity. However, his coup de grace was late on the second day at a packed Basin Reserve, when a hat-trick loomed for Jamieson steaming in to Jermaine Blackwood.
A yorker struck the West Indian in front of leg stump. Brown issued a “not out” as Jamieson stood on the brink of joining fellow Kiwis Peter Petherick and James Franklin in the sport’s annals. Stand-in skipper Tom Latham reviewed, but Brown’s judgment prevailed in the face of a baying crowd.
Brown’s background as a former Auckland and Cook Islands pace bowler appears to be paying dividends via his feel for the game. His muscle memory looks like it’s guiding him through a swath of forensic detail. Umpires cop their share of criticism for errors, so getting the art right so often must be applauded.
Having all 42 Laws – written with a capital ‘L’, courtesy of Lord’s HQ – under their jurisdiction is a weighty tome to carry in your head standing at the stumps or square leg. Trying to assess evidence of bat edges amid the cacophony of a ground complicates the role, as does maintaining the dimensions of an invisible 22.86cm x 71.12cm x 20.12m wicket-to-wicket cuboid in your mind’s eye to gauge lbws.
Take a bow.
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