Mon | Oct 26, 2020

Former cricket umpire Johnny Gayle passes

Published:Saturday | September 19, 2020 | 12:14 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Late cricket umpire Johnny Gayle
Late cricket umpire Johnny Gayle

Former cricket umpire and sports administrator Johnny Gayle died peacefully, surrounded by family members on Tuesday. He was 96 years old.

Gayle was first involved with the sport as a member of the Highgate cricket team in St Mary. He started officiating in the 1960s, passing the written examination set by the Jamaica Cricket Umpires Association (JCUA) in 1964, the first local umpiring organisation that required recruits to pass a written test before they can officiate a game.

He officiated various local competitions before getting his first regional match in 1970 when Jamaica played Barbados in the Shell Shield competition. Gayle recalled the occasion being “the most thrilling contest in the history of inter-territorial cricket.” He officiated the tournament for 16 years between 1970 and 1986.

His ambition to officiate a Test match was realised on February 16, 1972 when he was appointed with Douglas Sang Hue to serve as umpires in the Test match between the West Indies and New Zealand at Sabina Park. In 1986 and 1987, he officiated matches with the West Indies against England and New Zealand, respectively.

In the midst of his officiating duties, he was elected secretary of the JCUA in 1970, a position that he would hold for 20 years. Additionally, he was the Area Vice President of the West Indies Cricket Umpiring Association (WICUA) for eight years and later served as secretary for 17 years.

He retired from umpiring first-class matches in 1990, having officiated 32 games, three Tests and several limited over matches. In the same year, he was elected president of the JCUA and served for 12 years. For his contributions to the sport, he was awarded with the Order of Distinction in 2000.