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Sang Hue - an unusual man, a pioneer

Published:Wednesday | August 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Umpires Ralph Gosein (left) of Trinidad and Tobago and Douglas Sang Hue of Jamaica going out for the start of the first Test between India and the West Indies at Sabina Park in 1971.
Umpire Douglas Sang Hue (second left) standing in a regional Shell Shield match between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago at Sabina Park in 1973. Arthur Barrett at forward short leg ducks as the Trinidad middle order batsman Richard DeSouza swings at a delivery from left-arm spinner Lloyd Morgan. Others in the photograph are Desmond Lewis (wicketkeeper), Leonard Levy (leg slip), and Deryck Murray at the non-striker's end. - File
Douglas Sang Hue (left) accepting a special Wilco Sports award from Charles Simpson, owner of the Wilco Brand, during a Portmore Metropolitan Cricket League awards ceremony at Ken's Wildflower Restaurant and Lounge in August 2008. - Photo by Anthony Minott
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Tony Becca, Contributing Editor

Douglas Sang Hue was a soft-spoken, always smiling little man. In fact, he hardly spoke, except to explain a law or two to someone who did not know and who quietly sought his explanation.

He was an unusual man in a popular sport. He was, like Rupert Tangchoon, the batsman from Trinidad and Tobago, of Chinese extraction. He, however, never played the sport, not even to bowl a 'chinaman' every now and then.

He loved the sport, however, so much so that he devoted his life to it and became a Test umpire at the age of 30, an age when others were still playing the game.

Sang Hue's first Test match as an umpire was also his first as a first-class umpire. In other words, he started at the top and ended at the top, rated by the world of cricketers in the 1970s - among them former Australian captain Ian Chappell - as the best umpire in the world.

He was so good that another great cricketer once said to me: "When Sang Hue gives you out, especially for lbw, you just turn and walk."

knew the laws

Lawrence Rowe was right. Sang Hue was a very good umpire, he knew the laws of the game inside out, his interpretation of them was brilliant, his eyes as clean as that of an eagle. He trusted his knowledge and his instincts, and from 1962 in his first Test match until 1981 in his last, he was known as an umpire who never gave a batsman out lbw whenever he played on the front-foot.

Starting his career at Sabina Park in the fifth Test against India, Sang Hue officiated in the West Indies' first 5-0 whitewash and in an age when West Indian umpires stood in Test matches in their home country only, he was the first West Indian to stand in all five Test matches in a series in the Caribbean, once against Australia in 1973 and once against England in 1974.

Apart from standing in 31 Test matches, Sang Hue was the first West Indian umpire to officiate in the English County season, he was the only non-Australian umpire in the first year of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, and he was the umpire who stood in all five matches of the Super Tests of 1979.

San Hue will be specially remembered for his honesty and integrity, particularly on three occasions.

1) He was the standing umpire when Basil Butcher was given out caught down the leg-side by wicketkeeper Jim Parkes off John Snow's bowling at Sabina Park during the second Test against England in 1968.

Tear gas followed the decision, which was the correct decision.

2) He was the umpire who gave Alvin Kallicharan out when Bernard Julien blocked the last delivery of the day's play from Derek Underwood in the first Test against England at Queen's Park Oval.

Kallicharan stepped out of the crease, moved towards the pavilion and Tony Greig ran him out.

A stand was set on fire and the management of both teams argued for over two hours after the day's play, with Sang Hue insisting that Kallicharan was out, even though Alan Knott had knocked off the bails at the striker's end to signal the end of the day's play.

Sang Hue insisted that Kalli-charan was out because the umpire had not called play and he could not change his decision unless Greig withdrew his appeal.

Greig bowed and withdrew his appeal. The stands were on fire.

3) In 1978, Bruce Yardley of Australia was called for throwing by Sang Hue in the Jamaica versus Australia match. Australian captain Bobby Simpson protested and Sang Hue did not stand in the Test match.

Sang Hue was not a tall man, but in the field of umpiring, he was huge, so huge that in the company of men like Owen Davies, Ralph Gosein, Cortez Jordan and Cecil Kippins of the West Indies, Arthur Fagg, Syd Buller and Dickie Bird of England, Colin Egar and Lou Rowan of Australia and later on Steve Bucknor of the West Indies, he was a giant.

He feared no one, whatever the state of the game, whoever he was and wherever he was from - be it England, Australia, or even the West Indies.

He was good, very, very good.