Billy Bowden may no longer officiate in international cricket, having been dropped from New Zealand Cricket’s (NZC) International Umpires Panel on Thursday (June 16).
Bowden, 53, was demoted to NZC’s National Umpires Panel along with Derek Walker and Phil Jones. In their place, Shaun Haig and Chris Brown, former New Zealand first-class players, are set to umpire in internationals for the first time after being promoted to NZC’s International Umpires Panel alongside Wayne Knights.
Bowden, a veteran of 84 Tests, 200 One-Day Internationals and 24 Twenty20 Internationals, last stood in a match between New Zealand and Australia during the Chappell-Hadlee series in Wellington in February this year.
A fan favourite due to his exaggerated and quirky hand signals, Bowden was previously left out of the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) elite panel in 2013 after the annual review. Though he returned in 2014 due to the retirement of Tony Hill, he was dropped a second time after umpiring the Test between West Indies and England in May 2015 in Barbados.
Bowden was involved in two farcical decisions during two separate World Cups. In the final of the 2007 edition between Australia and Sri Lanka in Barbados, he was the fourth umpire and played a part in forcing both teams to play out Sri Lanka’s innings in almost complete darkness, despite bad light being called at the end of the 33rd over. He was suspended by the ICC, along with the rest of the playing control team, for the 2007 World T20 as a result.
More recently, in the opening match of the 2015 World Cup between Australia and England in Melbourne, he was the third umpire when James Taylor was wrongfully denied a maiden ODI hundred on World Cup debut. James Anderson, the last batsman, was adjudged run out though ICC later clarified that the playing rules state that “the ball should have been declared dead when the batsman (Taylor) was given out LBW”, and had the decision overturned on review.
NZC didn’t comment on Bowden’s omission, but Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri, the Match Officials Manager, said the appointments of Haig and Brown was “a massive opportunity for the guys and they deserve it based on their umpiring performances over recent seasons.”