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My entire family is a cricket-loving family. My grandfather used to play cricket with the Britishers before Independence. My family gave three personalities to the sport of cricket - my uncle Shri Ashok Saheba, myself and my cousin Shri Samrat Saheba. Like my uncle and cousin, I started my career as a player (batsman) and was fortunate enough to play first class domestic cricket matches (1983-1989).
Though, I was enjoying playing cricket, we used to discuss among us on how to connect with the game of cricket for the a long time. This gave me an idea of changing my profession from a player to an umpire. I knew that I had few qualities like decision-making and patience. I had to develop my skill and knowledge to become a successful umpire. Moreover, there was not any renowned umpire from the West Zone. All these made my feeling stronger to become an umpire to officiate in the national and international level and, thereby, to serve my favourite game of cricket. It was within my temperament that when I decided something to start/do, I used to take it as a project and would not leave it till its accomplishment.
Accordingly, after retirement from first class cricket in the year 1989-90, I started acquiring knowledge and skills by reading materials, books and appeared for the state level Umpire Examination. Then, I cleared the BCCI qualifying exams for umpires and started my career as an official umpire on the BCCI panel from 1991 to 2019.
I used to follow all my routines before, during and after the game. I used to smell the situation beforehand and was well prepared to face it as predicted with its possible solution(s). This helped me in achieving my goals and avoid COC issues in my 30 years of umpiring career.
As far as my routine physical exercise was concerned, I used to do warm-up exercise, jogging and yoga/pranayama daily in the early morning. On the previous day of the match, my breakfast used to be heavy, with high carbohydrate and less fat with fruits/juice, frequent intake of water and energy drink, small meals instead of one large meal. I used to avoid high-fibre food to avoid possible stomach problem.
On the completion of the match, I used to prefer carbohydrate-based beverages and thereafter high protein and carbohydrate contained meals to fulfil the requirement of glucose in the muscles that might have depleted during the match.
This has helped me in the last 30 years to remain fit and healthy, thus helped me not to refuse a single match allotted to me.
Memories and Highlights
I had thoroughly enjoyed my umpiring by maintaining very high standards of performance by standing in the middle and had made very good friends on and off the field in India and across the globe and came to know different culture, behaviour, languages and human physiology.
India-Pakistan ODI series in 2007 was of a lot of pressure as Pakistan was touring India after a long time. In the first ODI, an LBW appeal off the bowling of Shoaib Akhtar to Sachin Tendulkar was a beauty of an LBW decision, which even today is on the ICC website among some of the very good decisions given by the umpires.
I got to learn about the different cultures, languages, food, climatic conditions, different approach toward the game. More challenges were faced was in the North and East Zone, with fading light and morning dew. In winter, umpiring in the North was a real challenge, with cold wind and foggy atmosphere. In the East Zone, the early sunset meant that the over rate of your matches was a challenge for the teams.
There have been changes in the game viz format of matches, use of technology, technology relating to decision making by the umpires, evolution in various batting/bowling/wicketkeeping techniques, source of funding, capacity of stadiums and facilities, improvement in entertaining the spectators, ground management, match commentary upgradation etc.
My journey so far remained extremely satisfying and rewarding too. Though, it was challenging and very tough at times, I could overcome it because of my deep sense of commitment towards the game, readiness to adapt to the periodical changes in the game and working hard for acquiring skill and knowledge. Also, the support from family members, my cricketer friends and professional counterparts/umpire fraternity, my bank - State Bank of India, Gujarat Cricket Association, the BCCI was crucial and last but not the least, the divine force was the reason behind my success.
I have always enjoyed every moment of each match I played so far, either as a player or as an umpire. I wish to continue the activity post my retirement in a different way by offering my services to the upcoming umpires to enhance their talent and thereby, giving back to the game which I loved the most.
Amish Saheba, who was named the Best Umpire in the year 2008-09 by the BCCI, officiated in 117 First Class games, 3 Tests, 51 ODIs and 4 T20Is. Additionally, he also worked as an umpire during the ICC World Cup 2011 and 2009 ICC T20 World Cup.