Photo Credit: Zimbabwe Cricket
Renowned umpire Shaun George has announced his retirement from the game, ending a distinguished career that spanned over 20 years.
The veteran match-official stood in his 50th and final Twenty20 international when the Proteas took on West Indies in the third KFC T20I at the DP World Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday night.
The 55-year-old was also a standing umpire in 60 One-Day Internationals (ODI), the last of which came between Namibia and Nepal in Windhoek during December.
“Everyone reaches a stage where they know they’ve had enough and I’m now at that point,” George said. “It’s time to hand the baton over and give other guys the opportunity.”
One of Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) most respected umpires, he officiated in over 100 first-class matches, 171 List A or one-day games and 206 T20s.
He also was involved in 26 women’s ODIs and 21 T20s, including going to five ICC Women’s World Cups. Amongst his greatest honours was being the standing umpire alongside Gregory Brathwaite of West Indies when England played India at Lord’s in the 2017 World Cup final.
“That match is definitely one of my highlights,” George recounted. “But my most memorable moment has to be that first ODI between South Africa and Australia on my home ground St George’s Park (in Gqeberha on 23 October 2011).
“That was quite special, to do it in familiar surroundings of where I grew up with so many people that I knew all around me.
“Overall, I must say, however, that I was afforded a wonderful opportunity through cricket and I am extremely grateful for it. When I started out, I never expected to get to so many Internationals, not forgetting all the local and domestic games I stood in both at home and internationally.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world through cricket, I’ve been fortunate enough to officiate in international matches, I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy what I’ve been provided with and I mean there’s plenty guys that may not get to do what I did, so I’m really just thankful to have been involved in something that I love.”
As part of a CSA exchange programme, George also got to stand in domestic cricket matches in New Zealand, Australia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India.
He also praised his family for affording him the opportunity to spend time away from home.
“They have been immense,” he explained. “My family has been a great support. We always say that without their support we wouldn’t have achieved what we have achieved. Just their understanding means so much. Being away from home for such a long time, we’re ever so grateful to them for understanding and giving me that opportunity. So, we are looking forward to spending time together from here onwards.”
George, who is also a former player himself, does not have any immediate plans, but will continue to work with the ICC’s Africa branch to help develop officials in other countries on the continent.
“I’m doing some work with the ICC Africa branch at the moment where I am an educator for them, helping to train umpires in Africa starting from next month,” he added. “There’s obviously so much of experience and so much that I’ve achieved. I’d like to share that with everyone that wants it really. I want people to benefit from me as a mentor or an advisor, just so that we can assist in bringing them through.”
Thanking George for his contribution to the cricket, CSA Chief Executive Officer, Pholetsi Moseki said;
“Shaun has been the pillar of the umpiring ecosystem. He brought into his craft passion, dedication, and excellence. These endurable traits have garnered him respect and admiration both locally and internationally. It is through his immense contribution that South Africa’s umpiring enjoys the acclaim it does.
“We thank Shaun for his tenacity, temperament for the game and selfless mentoring of buddying umpires. His innings have made an indelible impact on us and cricket at large. We wish him well on his well-deserved retirement.”