Umpire Paschim Pathak stood out during the Mumbai School Sports Association (MSSA) Giles Shield semi-final between Anjuman Islam (CST) and Al-Barkaat (Kurla) at Cross Maidan yesterday.
Umpire Pashchim Pathak wears a helmet during MSSA Giles Shield semi-final match at Cross Maidan yesterday. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Pathak, a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Elite Panel umpire, wore a helmet as he officiated in the inter-school fixture. Though the chances of being struck hard by a ball in school cricket are rare, given the kids lack the firepower that adults exhibit, Pathak felt it's better to be safe than sorry.
"I have never been hit by a ball, but it's like an insurance policy — protection is always a good thing. It's all about being practical, about protecting oneself. "It's the same when a wicketkeeper or a fielder at forward short leg or silly point wears a helmet," Pathak told mid-day.
The realisation of wearing a helmet came to Pathak when he was officiating a Ranji Trophy match between Punjab and Tamil Nadu with Australian umpire John Ward earlier this year. Pathak was at square-leg, when, in the 48th over on Day One, Punjab's Barinder Sran smashed one straight past the bowler and struck Ward on his head.
Ward escaped with minor injuries, but Pathak, came away wiser.
An accountant by profession, Pathak (39) has been an umpire since 2001. "I used to play for my school BNVB (Goregaon) and then college (Dalmia, Malad). I'm very passionate about the laws of the game, so once I stopped playing, umpiring was the next best thing to do," said Pathak, who has officiated as a fourth-umpire in two Test matches, two one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals.