LONG-STANDING umpire Kimrajh Barrsinghga, 69, was one of several umpires honoured at the TT Cricket Umpires Council awards ceremony at Presentation College Chaguanas on the weekend. The award held special significance for the Frederick Settlement, Caroni resident who was forced to retire from umpiring after getting a stroke during a game earlier this year.
Barrsinghga has been umpiring for over three decades and featured up to the regional level.
He recalled his first umpiring stint happened by accident, but the course of events that followed allowed him to learn, travel and accomplish his goals.
"I went to a cricket match where my team, Caroni Conquerors, was playing, and one of the umpires didn't show up. I was asked by the other umpire to do the square leg. I gave two batsmen on my side out – one run out, one stumped. We lost the game, but the official umpire came and said to me afterwards, 'You have all the qualities to be up up to a Test umpire.'"
Motivated by these words, Barrsinghga took up the umpire's invitation to begin training at Presentation College. "I did preliminaries, final written and practical. I made 97 out of 100 in marks," he recalled.
Barrsinghga said he graduated in 1988 and began moving up the ranks.
"I reach at the regional level – one step again to be Tests. I umpired 27 regional games, seven 50-overs; I did six Carib Sunday finals; six North-South Classic; I was an official in a West Indies vs Zimbabwe game at the Queen's Park Oval; I also did a mini-Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies at Guaracara Park; and I was one of the officials in three Busta Cup finals in Trinidad."
He said the career has carried him all over the Caribbean and the US, and earned him the respect of many.
"All the West Indies players I've met and never received a bad report as yet from winning or losing captains."
What does it take to be a quality umpire?
"Umpiring is something you have to love. If yuh doh love it – quit!
"Now it's very strenuous. With a lot of technology, you are being looked at in every department. It's becoming harder and harder."
He said umpires – similar to cricketers – must prepare adequately to perform at their peak.
"I is a man don't drink or smoke. I always prepare myself. I've never missed an appointment since umpiring.
"Let's say you have to umpire on Saturday, intake of alcohol is not good. You cannot function if you is a drinker and smoker. Three days before the match, exercise is important, consume a lot of water, sleep is important. Yuh have to be physically and mentally fit. Your eyesight is most important."
He said punctuality is essential and gives an umpire an edge to properly manage the game.
"The law says yuh must be present two hours before the scheduled start. Being punctual makes you relaxed. Yuh know the crowd behaviour, where the rain comes from – little things that will affect the game."
He added, "Attire is very important. If yuh can't umpire real good – dress good. People will respect you."
He acknowledged that mistakes will happen but umpires must do all they can to minimise them. "Yes, you will make lil mistakes – you are human – but the one who concentrates the most and knows the laws, makes the least mistakes.
Recalling the day he got a stroke, Barrsinghga said he began feeling dizzy and was given coconut water to drink to help revive him. "I was still feeling dizzy and the guys said they would drop me home. When I came home, I felt my sugar was low so I drank half a chubby and ate hops and zaboca, next thing yuh know I end up in the hospital.
"From my waist come up twist up. I spent five days in the hospital and the doctors treat meh.
"Excellent treatment at Mt Hope, I don't care what anyone says."
However, Barrsinghga was advised to quit umpiring. Last week he received a clean bill of health and is hoping to stay involved in the game in a different capacity.
"I don't want no money and all kinda thing. Since I love the game, I want to give back."