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Interview with Billy Doctrove

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Billy Doctrove is a 42 year old umpire from Dominica in the Windward Islands, who has officiated in 14 first-class games in the West Indies. This week it was announced that he will be making his international umpiring debut, standing in the third and fourth one-day internationals between the West Indies and England in St Vincent on 4 and 5 April. Billy is also an accomplished FIFA (soccer) referee. Billy chatted with us live from Dominica on the IRC channel #cricket on 21 February 1998. Kenny Green (Windian on #cricket) assisted Billy with the interview while Jeff Green was moderator.

JeffGreen: 1st question, From Bakait in the States

bakait: Do you enjoy refereeing football more than umpiring cricket?

Billy Doctrove: Actually, to be frank, in the past ..yes. I found it more involved... and generally exciting

JeffGreen: That question is related to that from WGG in canada who is also a referee.

WGG: As a soccer referee I find that the majority of players are abysmally ignorant of the laws of the game. Is this true of high level cricket also?

Billy Doctrove: To a certain extent yes. Generally they have a grasp of the laws, but at a higher technical level they fall short, which is not good.

JeffGreen: From Sundar another Indian exile in the states

sundar: Recently an ODI in India and a test match in WI were abandoned as the pitch was unfit.. Do you believe umpires should exercise more control to avoid such embarrassment? What are your suggestions?

Billy Doctrove: The umpires can only get involved after the pitch is handed over. We have no say in the preparation. The local authorities should take a keener, and more hands on approach to preparation.

KP: (New Zealand) In your estimation, what % of batsmen would you say "walk" when they get an edge and are caught. Is that % going down

Billy Doctrove: Difficult to give a percentage, but it is definitely going down.

JeffGreen: sad to hear :-(

Billy Doctrove: fact of life

JeffGreen: This from several people including from Australia

Redback: Give us your opinions on the best 3 Intl umpires currently. What special characteristics do they have that make them good in your eyes?

Billy Doctrove: Redback: Bucknor, Vengkat are the two actually I rate. They are calm under pressure and are decisive in making decisions, and both understand the game from a players perspective.

Billy Doctrove: rate highest that is...generally all umpires are fairly competent at intl level that is.

sib (England): Should international cricket have 2 neutral umpires ?

Billy Doctrove: Sib: All umpires are by nature neutral, and the present practise of one home and one travelling is in my opinion adequate.

bakait: Recently, a lot of subcontinental off-spinners have been removed from the intl scene for chucking. Have you personally called anyone for chucking, and what do you look for in such cases?

Billy Doctrove: Bakait: No I havent called anyone, not that I havent seen anyone chucking, but I generally speak to the authorities of the team, ie the captain... You have to look for the actual delivery action.

JeffGreen: Is that something an umpire dreads? with the possible consequences for the player involved.

Billy Doctrove: Definitely...It is not a pleasant situation. You can end a career. That should not be the intention of the exercise.

nayak: which English player has impressed you in the series till date?

Billy Doctrove: Nayak: Fraser, because of his accuracy

Pete (USA): Recently a lot of TV closeups show umpires missing no-balls, even the top umpires. Do you think an unpire can check all noballs as well as other things effectively?

Billy Doctrove: Pete: You can miss one or two noballs in a game. The actual difficulty (which is when it is noticed), is when someone actually gets out off one of them

JeffGreen: Lost the questioner on this one sorry but it is a good question: Recently, during the Holioake run out, there was a miscommunication with the 3rd umpire, even after Venkat referred the call to the 3rd ump. Do you have any opinions on that incident?

Billy Doctrove: I didnt see the incident myself, but from what I understood the normal angle that the third ump sees showed Hollioake to be out, but he was only requested to confirm the runout at that angle.

JeffGreen: Again from several people: Is it important for an Umpire to have played the game at a high level?

Billy Doctrove: It helps. It definitely helps, but it is not an overriding criteria for success as an umpire. What is more important is that there is some experience of playing the game.

JeffGreen: a follow up I guess from the question before last:

nayak: Many a time the umpire calls for TV replay even though it is very clear that the same is not required. Do you think they are 'afraid' to make decisions and are they trying to shake off their responsibility and putting more pressure on the TV umpire?

Billy Doctrove: nayak: Its about playing safe. The technology is there, and umpires have to use it, because of incidents which have happened when judgement calls have been seen to be wrong. There is no comparison between the pressure the umpire has onfield and the TV ump who can get a dozen goes to replay a single incident.

KP: How prevalent is "putting pressure on umpires" by frivolous appealing? Have you ever been "ganged up on" by a team appeal when several team members walk towards you in unison?

Billy Doctrove: KP: You get that at times ..but usually when you have a new umpire / young umpire who is untested, and the players may tend to test that out. After experience you ignore frivolous appealing.

wz (USA): do you think that LBWs should be given for balls pitching outside line of leg?

Billy Doctrove: wz: No one has put up a strong enough case as to why it should be changed, but if it was changed, it would put even more pressure on umpires.

Billy Doctrove: That was a very political answer...

JeffGreen: We have now run over the 30mins suggested are you

wz: We had an interview with umpire Gosein live from Trinidad.. Have you had the opportunity to work with such senior WI umpires, and what do you try to learn from them?

Billy Doctrove: WZ: Yes I have officiated with all the senior guys, Bucknor, Barker, Gosein was a match referee whilst I officiated, and just from speaking to them about their expereiences and how they handle difficult situations I have learnt somethings. Because both myself and Bucknor were Fifa refs we have a very close relationship.

Billy Doctrove: I am very happy that my first intl game is in tandem with Bucknor himself.

Shielesh Damle (Singapore): Billy what is your opinion in recent dismissal of Mark Waugh which caused a lot of controversy ?

Billy Doctrove: I didnt see that incident...sorry. can you relate it ?

JeffGreen: This was when after playing the shot. Mark Waugh swung his bat and it hit the wicket.

Billy Doctrove: Was it a follow through from thje shot ?

JeffGreen: no he just turned away

Billy Doctrove: Was it all in one motion ?

JeffGreen: not really but that was part of the controversy :-)

Billy Doctrove: Well that is the problem

JeffGreen: However difficult for you to comment if you haven't seen it

Billy Doctrove: It is the umpires opinion on whether it was a follow through, or two distinct actions. I cannot say anything other than that.

JeffGreen: From perhaps our must unusual regular, an American cricket fan in Austria.

JimCurry: In the recent WI-England tests there were a number of LBW decisions which to regular viewers of English cricket looked to be fairly clearly out. Can you comment on the differences in interpretation on this law in different parts of the world?

Billy Doctrove: There are not supposed be interpretations in the sense that you describe. It is a clear cut law. The laws of cricket are supposed to be universal.

JeffGreen: I was wrong about the last one Rohan is definitely our most unusual regular :-)

Rohan: I'd be interested in hearing your opinions on a couple of young West Indian cricketing talents.. particularly young Ramnaresh Sarwan from Guyana. Is he part of the future, in the post-Carl Hooper era? :-)

Rohan: (clearly the post-Carl Hooper era only starts in 2010 or thereabouts, of course :-) )

Billy Doctrove: i`ve seen Sarwan on a few occasions and he seems to have the temperament to succeed. The ability we will have to wait and see.

Billy Doctrove:Windian says...he also needs some meat on those bones.

Billy Doctrove: didnt stop Chanderpaul

bakait: I hear you will get to umpire your first International soon. How do you prepare for such an event as an umpire?

Billy Doctrove: Bakait: Firstly I increase my level of physical training, and I try to do as many local games as I can, leading up to the match. This is based on my Fifa referee experience

JeffGreen: In your opinion What is reason decline West Indies fast bowlers who were dominating the world last two decades ? (Though after watching Ambrose and Walsh I feel that questioner may be a bit premature)

Billy Doctrove: Personall I do believe that question to be premature. Besides Ambrose and Walsh we have young fast bowlers in the wings waiting for their opportunities, namely Mclean, Rose, Dillon, Reon King. The batting might be a easier target for a question like that.

JeffGreen: On the radio this morning a well known WI cricket fan was interviewed and he said he felt that sadly modern players do not feel WI first but Jamaican Trinidadian etc. and that this was affecting the team, would you agree?

Billy Doctrove: No I dont necessarily agree. I feel when players are picked to represent the WI they do give their all, notwithstanding the fact they apparently seem to give away their wickets cheaply. Because in WI cricket circles it is an honour and prestigous thing to represent WI

JeffGreen: Thanks very much Billy, if you survive Windian's attention please drop in and visit us again anytime.

Billy Doctrove: Thanks to everyone here.

Date-stamped : 21 Feb1998 - 14:27