Ian Gould walked out of a cricket field one last time whistling. That whistle was something you could always see ‘Gunner’, as Gould was known to cricketers and the media, do, whether in the middle of a high-pressure situation in an international match or as you passed him. Like many famous umpires, Gould was a popular personality, both on and off the field.
On Saturday, Gould retired from umpiring, having stood in the World Cup match between India and Sri Lanka at Headingley. It was his 140th ODI as an umpire and he drew the curtains on a 13-year career.
Gould, who played 18 ODIs for England and was part of the 1983 World Cup, joined the ECB’s first-class umpires’ list in 2002 and made his debut as an international umpire in a T20 between England and Sri Lanka in 2006. He stood in his first ODI a few days after that and his first Test – between South Africa and Bangladesh in Bloemfontein – two years later. This year’s World Cup was his fourth.
“The time was right (to stop),” Gould said on his decision to retire. “I’ve had a great year and I’ve enjoyed it. I thought the time now is to move on and let someone else come through.”
The last batsman Gould gave out in his career, although not on his own initially, was Rishabh Pant. In the 42nd over of India’s chase, Sri Lanka’s left-arm quick Isuru Udana bowled a slower ball that beat Pant and struck him in front of the stumps. Gould hardly moved in response to the lbw appeal but Sri Lanka opted for a review and once replays showed three reds, Gould had to change his decision and raise his finger.
Immediately after India’s victory, Virat Kohli walked up to Gould and hugged him. So did many other players. If you know Gould, you understand why players respected him. Communication is a big part of umpiring and only a few came close to doing it better. Gould could poke fun of a player, no matter how experienced or young, and elicit an instant laugh from him. This is what made him an endearing personality.
There was one bit of advice Gould had for the future batch of umpires: take that extra step to understand the player. Umpiring becomes an easy job that way. “You’ve got to understand people, you’ve got to meet people, talk to people, you have to practise with people,” Gould said. “They get to understand you and you understand them. It makes it a lot easier if you do it that way. All I can ever say to anyone, and the other umpires have heard this a million times, is keep smiling and enjoy it.”