Dickie Bird

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the Anglican priest, see Dick Bird.
Dickie Bird
Dickie Bird.JPG
Personal information
Full name Harold Dennis Bird OBE
Born (1933-04-19) 19 April 1933 (age 83)
Staincross, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Nickname Dickie
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Batting style Right-hand batsman
Bowling style Right-arm off-break
Role Batsman, Umpire
Domestic team information
Years Team
1956–1959 Yorkshire
1959–1964 Leicestershire
First-class debut 16 May 1956 Yorkshire v Scotland
Last First-class 12 August 1964 Leicestershire v Essex
List A debut 1 May 1963 Leicestershire v Lancashire
Last List A 27 May 1964
Leicestershire v Northamptonshire
Umpiring information
Tests umpired 66 (1973–1996)
ODIs umpired 69 (1973–1995)
Career statistics
Competition First-class List A
Matches 93 2
Runs scored 3,314 9
Batting average 20.71 4.50
100s/50s 2/14 0/0
Top score 181* 7
Balls bowled 48 0
Wickets 0
Bowling average
5 wickets in innings 0
10 wickets in match 0 n/a
Best bowling
Catches/stumpings 28/– 0/–
Source: cricketarchive.com, 19 August 2007

Harold Dennis "Dickie" Bird, OBE (born 19 April 1933,[1] Staincross, West Riding of Yorkshire, England) is a retired English international cricket umpire. In February 2014, Yorkshire announced that Bird is to be voted in as the club's president at their Annual General Meeting on 29 March.[2]

Early life[edit]

The son of a miner, he gained the nickname 'Dickie' at school. He lives in the South Yorkshire village of Staincross. Bird failed his 11-plus and went to Raley Secondary Modern School, leaving in 1948 at the age of 15. For a while, he worked at a coal mine on the surface, but gave it up, deciding it was not for him. Instead, he set out for a career in sport.

Playing career[edit]

When a knee injury put paid to playing football professionally, he followed his second love, cricket. In his early career in Barnsley, he played club cricket in the same team as Geoff Boycott, and journalist and chat show host Michael Parkinson, who became a lifelong friend. In 1956, Bird signed up with his home county, Yorkshire.[1] Boycott has spoken highly of Bird's ability as a batsman, but feels that his attempt to forge a career as a county cricketer was hampered by his inability to control his nerves.[3] Between 1956 and 1964, Bird played first-class cricket as a batsman for Yorkshire[1] and Leicestershire in the English County Championship. After his county career, he coached and played league cricket before becoming an umpire.

Umpiring career[edit]

He stood in his first county game in 1970. Three years later, he officiated at his first Test match, England v New Zealand at Headingley in Leeds. The other umpire was Charlie Eliott as England won by an innings and one run.[4] He gained a reputation for stopping play for weather and not giving batsmen out LBW.

Bird's attention to detail was placed under scrutiny at the Centenary Test between England and Australia at Lord's in 1980. Although the Saturday of this particular match had mostly pleasant sunshine, Bird and his fellow umpire, David Constant, refused to let play start because of the previous night's rain; parts of the outfield were still too waterlogged, according to the officials. Angry MCC members scuffled with Constant as he and the team captains returned to the Long Room after their fifth pitch inspection. The two captains, Ian Botham and Greg Chappell, had to intervene to protect Constant. Bird, however, was still on the pitch at the time according to his own recounting of the event in his book. When play finally started at 3:45 pm, police had to escort the umpires through the Long Room and on to the field.[5]

A pitch invasion followed the West Indies' 17-run win in the inaugural Cricket World Cup. A number of players and umpires had items of their playing outfits "souvenired" by the crowd.[6] A year later, Bird was a passenger on a bus in South London, when he noticed the conductor was wearing a white hat very similar to the one he favoured, and asked the conductor where he obtained it from.

"Man, haven't you heard of Mr Dickie Bird," he replied. "This is one of his hats. I took it off his head at the World Cup final... we all ran onto the field and I won the race."[6][7]

One of Bird's strengths was that he was able to manage and earn the respect of some of the more volatile players in the game, sometimes by using his infectious humour. He was also known as being eccentric, famously arriving at a ground five hours early as the Queen was to visit that day.

At the beginning of his 66th and final Test in 1996, the two teams – India and England – formed a "guard of honour" as he came out, and he received a standing ovation from the crowd.[4] Bird, an emotional man, was in tears. Two years later, in 1998, he stood in his last county match.

Bird umpired in 66 Test matches (at the time a world record) and 69 One Day Internationals including 3 World Cup Finals.

He came out of retirement in January 2007 to umpire in the XXXX Gold Beach Cricket Tri-Nations series involving cricketing legends from England, the West Indies and Australia, which partly took place at Scarborough Beach in Perth, Western Australia, Australia.

Post retirement[edit]

Bird went on to write his autobiography simply titled My Autobiography (with a foreword by Michael Parkinson), which sold more than a million copies.[8] A sequel titled White Cap and Bails – Adventures of a Much Travelled Umpire was published in 1999 by Hodder and Stoughton.[9] Bird set up the Dickie Bird Foundation to help disadvantaged under-18s achieve their potential in sport.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1992 when he was surprised by Michael Aspel at Yorkshire Television.

In 2000, Bird cut the first slice of the Millennium Pie which had been baked in the world-famous "pie village" of Denby Dale, home to the Denby Dale Pie Company.

Bird appeared in one episode of Trigger Happy TV. In 2010 he took part in BBC's The Young Ones, in which six celebrities in their seventies and eighties, attempted to overcome some of the problems of ageing, by harking back to the 1970s.[10]

Statue of Bird as an umpire

Bird was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1986 and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to cricket and charity.[11][12] Bird has also received honorary doctorates from Huddersfield,[13] Leeds and Sheffield Hallam Universities. Bird has been given the Freedom of Barnsley.

Bird is also a Patron of the Barnsley Multiple Sclerosis Society.

A six-foot statue of Bird erected in his honour near the place of his birth in Barnsley was unveiled on 30 June 2009.[14] It has subsequently been raised by putting it on a five-foot-high plinth in order to discourage late night revellers hanging inappropriate items on the famous finger.[15]

On his pending appointment as President of Yorkshire CC in 2014, Bird stated "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would become the president of the greatest cricket club in the world".[2]

In August 2014, Bird was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September's referendum on that issue.[16]

Umpiring records[edit]

Dickie Bird standing between Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee at Trent Bridge
  • As of April 2013, Bird has officiated the most test matches in a single nation - 54 in England.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Warner, David (2011). The Yorkshire County Cricket Club: 2011 Yearbook (113th ed.). Ilkley, Yorkshire: Great Northern Books. p. 363. ISBN 978-1-905080-85-4. 
  2. ^ a b "Yorkshire: Former umpire Dickie Bird to become club president". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Test Match Special 28 December 2010
  4. ^ a b Firsts, Lasts & Onlys: Cricket – Paul Donnelley (London: Hamlyn, 2010)
  5. ^ "Wisden - ENGLAND v AUSTRALIA 1980". Content-uk.cricinfo.com. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Williamson, Martin. "Crowd invasion in the 1975 final". Cricinfo. p. 2007. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Thats owt that lad (Dickie Bird: My Autobiography – Dickie Bird)". www.dooyoo.co.uk. Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  8. ^ Nick Harper (24 February 2004). "Dickie Bird interview". Sport.guardian.co.uk. London. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  9. ^ (ISBN 0 340 75087 1)
  10. ^ "BBC One – The Young Ones". BBC.co.uk. 22 December 2010. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60009. p. 9. 31 December 2011.
  12. ^ "New Year Honours: Dickie Bird and Sarah Stevenson head South Yorkshire list". Sheffield Telegraph. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  13. ^ "The University of Huddersfield's 2010 Honorary Award recipients". Hud.ac.uk. Huddersfield University. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 
  14. ^ "UK | England | Dickie Bird's statue is revealed". BBC News. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Barnsley's prank-hit Dickie Bird statue raised". BBC News. BBC. 1 November 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories". The Guardian. 7 August 2014. Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  17. ^ "Ask Steven: The mystery of the missing batsman | Cricinfo Magazine". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 4 August 2013. 

External links[edit]