Photo Credit: New Zealand Cricket
Umpiring icon Billy Bowden will become the first New Zealand umpire to stand in 200 first-class matches this weekend.
The 85-Test umpire will reach the milestone during Auckland’s Plunket Shield match against Northern Districts starting at Kennard’s Hire Community Oval on Saturday, 30 years on from making his first-class umpiring debut in the Shell Trophy fixture between the two-sides at Eden Park in 1993.
Known for his eccentric umpiring signals, Bowden has gone on to become one of the most recognisable and respected umpires in world cricket.
He made his international umpiring debut in an ODI between New Zealand and Sri Lanka at Seddon Park in 1995 and made his Test umpiring debut at Eden Park in 2000 in the first Test between the BLACKCAPS and Australia.
Bowden would go on to stand in 85 Test matches, 221 ODIs and 48 T20Is (men’s and women’s).
He officiated in four ODI World Cups, two T20 World Cups and stood in the famous 2005 Ashes series in England, dubbed the greatest Ashes series of all-time.
Alongside his international feats, Bowden has continued to be a mainstay in New Zealand’s domestic competitions, standing in 377 List-A matches and 209 T20s to add to his first-class appointments.
The Auckland-born umpire said he was immensely proud to reach the milestone and represent New Zealand cricket over the last 30 years.
“To be involved in 200 first-class games is pretty special,” he said.
“When I started out I just wanted to challenge myself and be the best umpire every day and enjoy the journey.
“Being a former player myself I just wanted to embrace the cricket, try and make a difference and enjoy being involved in what is the best game in the world.
“There’s been many highlights, the 2005 Ashes series being one that really stands out.
“But covering the domestic finals here in New Zealand, the 50-over finals and the Super Smash and being able to contribute to cricket in New Zealand is really a privilege.
Bowden admitted a lot had changed in umpiring over his 32-year career so far.
“A lot has changed, not the least the clothing!
“But the challenges remain the same, it’s still bat and ball, you still take one ball at a time and you give it how you see it.
“Technology has moved quickly over the years and has brought its own challenges to umpiring, but that is the beauty of the sport, embracing the challenge and improving every day and trying to get better, not bitter!”
New Zealand Cricket Head of Cricket Operations Richard Brewer praised Bowden’s ongoing commitment to umpiring.
“This milestone is testament to Billy having been able to perform at the highest level over a long period of time,” said Brewer.
“Billy has been at the forefront of cricket’s evolution and has been entertaining cricket fans and non-cricket fans alike with his unique style, long before the advent of new formats of the game designed to appeal to a wider audience.
“However, it’s Billy’s world-class decision making that has made him one of the most well-known and respected umpires in the game.
“As with players, no one should underestimate the sacrifice that it takes to get to and operate at the highest level.
“Long periods of time away from the family, intense scrutiny and often only being spoken about when things have gone wrong, is all part of the job and NZC would like to acknowledge Billy’s resolute commitment to umpiring.”
Bowden’s 200th first-class appointment gets underway from 10:30am at Kennard’s Hire Community Oval in Auckland. Coverage will be streamed LIVE on NZC’s YouTube channel and LIVE scored at nzc.nz and the NZC app.