For a generation of cricket lovers in Kerala, Dr K N Raghavan is an icon who won their hearts after he became an international umpire in 1996. A doctor by qualification, a civil servant by profession and a true gentleman by character, Raghavan truly enjoyed every moment on the field as an umpire. During his career spanning from 1991 to 2013, he umpired One Day Internationals (ODIs) and numerous Ranji Trophy, Duleep trophy, Deodhar Trophy matches.
Recollecting a few unforgettable moments from his umpiring days, Raghavan told ‘Open Digest’ that the best moment in his umpiring career was the decision of giving Hemulal Yadav of Tripura out under “timed out” in a Ranji Trophy match between Tripura and Orissa at Cuttack in December 1997.
Though “Timed Out” is very rarely used to declare a player out in cricket, Raghavan took the decision when Hemulal took a long time to arrive at the pitch after a wicket fell. “He was the last batsman of Tripura and drinks were taken immediately after the ninth wicket fell. He took a long time to come to the ground even after the drinks. Orissa players appealed for Timed Out. When we enquired, Hemulal couldn’t give any valid reason for the delay. So, colleague Dandapani and I jointly declared him out under ‘timed out’,” Raghavan said.
India Vs South Africa ODI at Kochi in March 2000
Another interesting moment was from the ODI match between India and South Africa at Kochi in March 2000. “I was the reserve umpire for the match. As India was nearing victory, the field umpires declared a hit as boundary by mistake even though the ball didn’t cross the fence and players came off the field. I informed the umpires and match referee about the goof up and told them that the game needed to be resumed. I also showed them a provision of law for doing so. Based on my advice, the game was resumed and India hit the winning runs,” he said, adding though his interference in the game wasn’t crucial, he had his bit of tension because spectators in the stadium were already celebrating India’s victory.
Ranji Trophy – Mumbai Vs Maharashtra at Mumbai in 1999
He said that an on field decision that really tested his nerve was when he ruled in favour of Amol Mazumdar after there was a loud appeal for caught behind in a Ranji Trophy match between Mumbai and Maharashtra at Mumbai in 1999. The entire Maharashtra team made a loud appeal for out when Iqbal Siddiqui’s ball brushed the front of elbow just above wrist of Mazumdar and was caught by the wicket-keeper. But I turned down the appeal which really annoyed the Maharashtra players. However, they were convinced that my decision was right when they saw a large red patch on Mazumdar’s forearm where the ball had hit him.
Ranji Trophy – Saurashtra Vs Baroda in January 1994
The most satisfying match that he umpired was the Ranji Trophy tie between Saurashtra and Baroda in January 1994. “It was a tightly fought game with neither side yielding an inch. Saurashtra won both the one-day games and four-day game. Kiran More, captain of Baroda, had a special word of praise for my umpiring though his side lost the match,” Raghavan said.
He says that umpiring ODIs was never easy and he recalls the tense moments being the third umpire for India vs Australia match at Kochi in April 1998 and field umpire for India vs Bangladesh at Mohali in May 1998. “Though there were no tough calls or difficult decisions, I realised how different it is to umpire international matches where big crowds create a huge noise as compared to domestic games which have less crowd and no noise!!! There is always tension before entering the ground but it vanishes once action starts in the middle,” he said.
He added that he was very lucky to umpire a game between Australia and Mumbai prior to the champions trophy in 2006 in which he could see the giants like Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath in action.