I don't mind being unpopular - Rusere

HARARE - Zimbabwe cricket umpire Langton Rusere drew the wrath of local cricket fans in last month’s home series against India after he sent Elton Chigumbura back to the pavilion while officiating as a television umpire in the second ODI.

A close call that took several minutes of meticulous verification after the Zimbabwe skipper was caught at the slips by his opposite number Ajinkya Rahane in the second One Day International eventually saw Chigumbura being given out.

Chigumbura (9) succumbed to a Rahane stunning catch at second slip where “Jinx the cat” went airborne to his right with both hands and protecting the ball with his fingers at the time the Indian captain’s elbows hit the ground in the 11th over off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Rusere was caught in between giving the batsman who had just done so well in the opening One Day International scoring a century in the 4-run defeat and to maintain the umpiring ethics and it was an impartial decision that carried the day at the end.

He is currently officiating in on-going series pitting hosts Zimbabwe and the Black Caps, New Zealand.

The 30-year-old who made his international debut at home joining the prestigious 34-member panel on the ICC International Panel (IP) of umpires in the world said he does not mind being “unpopular” by making the right call.

“The pressure of being in the TV umpire’s seat is that everyone watching on TV deems themselves better than you if you get a decision wrong. We’d gone through the various protocols days before with Jerry Matibiri,” Rusere told the Daily News on Sunday.

“I’m sure a number of people would have wanted me to give the decision in Elton’s favour, but as an umpire I have to give the best decision I can in that moment — which I did with that catch. We followed the protocol for clean catches and in the end as a PCT we got it right. I don’t mind being unpopular for doing my job well. I am proud to be an umpire.”

Rusere could not hide his excitement of debuting on the ICC panel and reckons he would want to officiate in the Ashes series during his career, the well-documented cricket rivalry between England and Australia.

“I am chuffed to be on the ICC International Panel (IP) because everyone who is serious about their umpiring wants to be on the IP and possibly the Elite Panel. I’m happy to be one of the 34 international panel umpires in the world,” he said.

“It was great doing my first T20 on field at Harare Sports Club. It was great being on the field with one of my umpiring legends. I was nervous big time, but I’m relieved the first match went well. I am on the ICC IP on the TV panel. So primarily, I serve as a TV umpire and I get the odd on field appointment.”

The desire to become an international umpire grew stronger with the umpire’s attainment of the C grade after passing his exams in 2006. He got lots of help from a couple of individuals among them Kevan Barbour, Nick Singo and Terry Mubwandarikwa.

“I got positive feedback from Kevan Barbour when he came to Masvingo for an umpiring workshop. I thought, ‘one day I’d want to umpire at the level he is at.’ I’d seen him on TV doing games. It was encouraging to hear him saying that he thought I had the knack for this sort of stuff,” Rusere said.

“Nick Singo invited me to try out umpiring with Bothwell Mandiya back in August 2005 in Masvingo. I sat for the D exam. Tried out umpiring and I have loved it since then.

When I moved to Harare, I got a lot of support from Terry Mubwandarikwa, who saw me umpiring in a national league match in Masvingo earlier in 2006. I stood with Owen Chirombe in my first game here and he began mentoring me from that time - still is to this day.

“I hope to do an Ashes series and to stand in a Test match at Lord’s or and at the MCG, but for now I have to focus on the current series here - the New Zealand series and polish up on what I could’ve done better in the last series and matches played so far. It’s about wanting to do better than yourself I guess.”


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