A Tribute To Former International Cricket Umpire Piloo Reporter

Piloo Reporter, former international cricket umpire and the first among neutral empires, passed away on 3rd September, 2023, at age 84 in Thane, Mumbai, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy. He was ailing from cerebral contusions and was bedridden for a while. He is survived by his wife and daughters – Farzana Warden and Khushnuma Daruwalla.

In a proud, extensive and illustrious career spanning 28 years, he officiated 14 Tests and 22 ODIs. He was popular for his animated, unique boundary signalling, which greatly amused players, broadcasters and fans worldwide and earned him the affectionate nickname ‘PD’ in the cricketing fraternity and ‘Milkshake’ was the name given to his boundary signalling method, by cricket commentator – Henry Blofeld.

One of the shiniest highlights of his career was in November 1986, when alongside fellow Indian umpire V K Ramaswamy, Piloo Reporter achieved the historic milestone of becoming the first pair of neutral umpires in the world since 1912, officiating the Lahore Test between Pakistan and West Indies – a move ushered in by Pakistan’s captain Imran Khan, to end the stigma of biased home umpiring. This event eventually led to the ICC introducing one neutral umpire in Tests from 1992 onwards.

Reporter’s first match as an umpire in a Ranji Trophy match was at the age of 29. Reporter’s maiden Test as umpire was in Delhi, in 1984, during England’s tour of India, alongside fellow umpire Dara Dotiwalla. His remarkable career concluded with his last appearance in the Mumbai Test between the same teams, in February 1993.

Piloo Reporter’s remarkable skills came into the spotlight when he umpired seven matches during the 1992 Cricket World Cup, in Australia and New Zealand, for which his contributions were celebrated even on the international stage.

In One-Day Internationals (ODIs), Piloo Reporter’s journey began with the India-Australia match in Delhi (September 1984), concluding his ODI umpiring career in Rajkot, presiding over the India v/s Sri Lanka match (February 1994). In addition to international matches, Reporter also officiated 13 first-class matches as match referee, in two instances.

In January 2021, Piloo Reporter was honored by The Cricketers Foundation for his outstanding contributions to Indian cricket. His dedication to the sport, both at the international and domestic levels, remains an inspiration for aspiring umpires and cricket enthusiasts alike.

Born and brought up in Thane in Maharashtra, Piloo Reporter was always respected and cherished for his grace, amiability and politeness, and was one of the most charming personalities of the cricketing arena, known to go out of his way to help others. He was known for his honestly and straightforwardness, as also for his patience and enthusiastic nature. He possessed an outstanding memory of recalling past events – his vast experience and encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket made him stand out as one of the best cricketing umpires ever.

Passionate about cricket from childhood, Piloo Reporter always wanted to become an umpire, grabbing every opportunity which came his way on the field to umpire matches. Till the age of 38, he played the game as an all-rounder, he bowled off-spin and later became an opening batsman who loved facing fast bowlers. Unfortunately, he had to quit playing the sport due to injuries.

Before taking up the role of an umpire, Reporter was an employee with the Maharashtra State Electricity Board, but changed fields on spotting the advertisement by the then Bombay Cricket Association looking to recruit new umpires.

Speaking to Parsi Times in an exclusive interview, on being honoured for his exceptional and outstanding service to Indian cricket by ‘The Cricketers Foundation’ on 25th January, 2021, Piloo Reporter had shared about his move towards umpiring, he says, “The then Bombay Cricket Association (BCA), in 1961, had put up an advertisement for holding the umpire’s examination, which I passed the following year. That is how my umpiring career took off. Later, in 1965, I was promoted to the senior panel of BCA. In 1966, I gave the exams to stand in Ranji Trophy games, which I cleared in the first attempt. In 1975, I gave another exam, which was for a promotion from the Ranji panel to the All-India panel. It was oral, practical as well as medical, which was a must that time. From then onwards, there was no looking back.”

Piloo Reporter credited former umpire – Judah Reuben from Mumbai – as his mentor, from whom he imbibed the qualities of humility and handling high-pressure situations during matches. He firmly believed that umpires should keep practicing their umpiring skills and never take it easy after attaining success and reaching a certain level.

A large number of tributes poured in on social and news media from cricketing greats. Cricketing legend, Sunil Gavaskar shared, “He was not only a fine umpire, but also a terrific human being. Very sad news,”; former Indian batsman, VVS Laxman wrote, “Sad to hear about the passing away of Shri Piloo Reporter, the first among neutral umpires. His eccentric boundary signals were a delight to watch. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,”; Virender Sehwag shared, “…His milkshake boundary signal was so catchy,”; Anil Kumble wrote, “… One of the iconic Indian umpires who was the first to stand as a neutral umpire in 1980s. May his soul rest in peace,”; and former India skipper – Dilip Vengsarkar said, “He officiated in many matches that I played in. What I liked about him is that despite being busy with international cricket, he would officiate in all local tournaments in Mumbai.”

Piloo Reporter served as a true inspiration to the cricketing fraternity. Behind his superlative success lay his tremendous hard work and perseverance to rise and shine. He believed in the power of patience and that one should never stop learning. His simplicity and humility shone as bright as his successes. He loved and lived for his umpiring, as that was his absolute passion. May his soul rest in eternal peace!

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