He is a qualified doctor, an international cricket umpire, a writer who has penned two books on history and currently the Commissioner of Customs in Kochi.
On Wednesday, K.N. Raghavan gave up one of the hats to focus more on his current posting. He announced his retirement as an international cricket umpire, a tad sad that he was leaving a sport he loves but happy that some of the lessons he picked up ‘in the middle’ have helped life outside the field.
“In umpiring, you have to take decisions on the spot and it has helped me focus and sharpen my decision-making process,” said Raghavan, a former managing director of Kerala State Co-operative Rubber Marketing Federation Ltd. and former CEO of Kochi’s Co-operative Medical College. “Umpiring has always helped me in my job.”
After completing his MBBS from Calicut Medical College, he was doing his post-graduation at Trivandrum Medical College when he cleared the Civil Services Examination and joined the Indian Revenue Service (Customs and Central Excise) in 1990.
Raghavan has umpired in two One-Day Internationals (one on the field and another as third umpire) and was a reserve umpire in three other ODIs besides numerous Ranji and Duleep Trophy matches. He said no umpire was perfect, but what separated the best from the rest was the fewer mistakes a respected umpire make.
His favourite umpire, he said, was Australian Simon Taufel, a regular ICC Umpire of the Year award-winner between 2004 and 2008.
An umpire’s life was a hard one, he said. “It can be very tough when you’re umpiring in front of 75,000 spectators …when you can’t hear a thing,” he said. Umpiring is virtually a full-time job and that is one reason why Raghavan was quitting the sport.
“What is happening now is that the Board (Board of Control for Cricket in India) expects an umpire to keep himself free during the season,” said Raghavan, who was posted in Singapore for three years from 2004 as First Secretary (Commerce) in the High Commission of India there. “So, there’s a new breed of umpires coming in…all youngsters. Some of them are players, some of them have been involved in the game at various levels, and so their main focus is on umpiring. Everything else is part-time or on a contract basis, which is something I couldn’t do.
“The days of part-time umpires are over. In another five years, there will be only full-time umpires,” he said.