Bangalore, Sept 29: Her demure presence amongst a bastion of male cricketers on the field is a surprising sight.
Though menacing bowlers keep hollering around her for wickets at regular intervals, she remains unfazed, knowing that her word is final. For 20-year-old Revathi N, being one of the very few female umpires in Indian cricket is an achievement that only few can boast of.
Before every match, she slips out from her trendy jeans and tees to a sparkling white shirt and neatly-ironed black trousers, a norm she has been religiously following for the last two years. Her interest in umpiring took form thanks to her father, Ramachandran Natrajan, a former cricketer and a serving umpire. "I always wanted to be a cricketer but then my dad pushed my brother more towards cricket and me towards umpiring. It took some time before I started liking it," says Revathi.
But umpiring at such a young age? "Well, there’s nothing better than starting young," Revathi grinned.
"My dad has been a constant support in helping me learn the nuances of umpiring. One gets a whole new sense of responsibility that you have to handle 22 avid cricketers, aspiring to win, with your presence of mind and your knowledge of the game," said Revathi, who is officiating at the KSCA girl’s inter-school tournament.
The going gets tough on a match day, tells Revathi, as she has to shuttle between BMS College of Engineering and the venues. "My college hardly knows that I’m an umpire. Bunking classes becomes a real pain as I would have lot of catching up to do. But then it’s fun, though I wonder what my college will have to say about this," the third-year engineering student laughed.
The most tedious part, Revathi recollects, was to learn the BCCI rule book for umpires. "Memorising all those complex rules was really a gruelling process, but, thankfully my dad made things easier," she said.
Of the 80-odd examinees, Revathi was among the handful that cleared the exams without a hitch.
"My first match was along with my dad at the Cottonian Shield tourney. I was really nervous and had a few minor bloopers but my dad helped calm my jitters," she said.
So will her venture coax other girls to take up umpiring as a profession? "Well, it’s hard to say. It’s a somewhat a rough road, but not one that can’t be attempted.
"It’s kind of different to see a woman out there as one has to realise that not everyone is going to like you being there," Revathi said. With a woman umpire around, the appeals tend to get excessive and the cricketers also resort to arguments. Revathi says it’s all about how you face it.
"A clear and composed mind can be a big asset in controlling heated arguments and appeals. Sometimes I may have made the same errors as any other umpire, but since I am a woman they may remember mine more. Luckily, nothing like that has happened to me till now," Revathi added.
All in all, apart from umpiring school and corporate tournaments, does she want to officiate the big boys’ games? "Umpiring as a career is something I have yet to decide.
"I would love to officiate a big match, but then the process of writing another exam and facing hardcore guys is something which will be tough to handle," she said.