Brent Fraser Billy Bowden is a cricket umpire who hails from New Zealand. He was born on 11 April 1963 in Henderson, New Zealand and is known for his famous “crooked finger of doom” out signal. His signature moves also included a sweeping action while slightly bent down to signal a four and a six signal that involved pointing towards the sky with both hands in a slow robotic style.
Billy Bowden was touted to be cricketer in his twenties before he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. This condition ended his playing career and he found a way to be involved in the beautiful game without having to play.
Billy is considered to be one of the greatest ever to officiate the sport and his signal of the crooked finger comes due to his condition which makes it painful for him to spread out his finger. He carved himself a position in the cricketing world with his entertaining signals.
Billy Bowden officiated his first ever game in March 1995 which was a One Day International between New Zealand and Sri Lanka in Hamilton. Five years later he received a chance to officiate his first ever test as an umpire between New Zealand and Australia.
In 2002, Billy was included in the Emirates International Panel of Umpires. He then received a chance to officiate in the 2003 World Cup held in South Africa. He was chosen as the fourth umpire in the final between Australia and India. In the same year, Billy was promoted to the Emirates Elite Panel of ICC Umpires and he was a part of it till 2013.
Billy Bowden was also the umpire in the first ever T20I held in 2005. Billy became the youngest umpire in January 2007 to have officiated in a hundred ODIs which was later broken by another famous umpire Simon Taufel. Billy was also a member of the International Panel of Umpires and Referees till 2016 when he was demoted to the national panel of New Zealand.
Billy’s most remembered controversy is the 2007 World Cup final between Australia and Sri Lanka. He was the fourth official in the match and was in deep trouble when he let the match go on in darkness. This was a serious error in decision making and he was suspended along with the other umpires in the match.
Billy has also remained in controversy for his action for a long time, but his condition of rheumatoid arthritis plays as an excuse. In spite of this, Billy remains one of the cricket’s most respected officials till date.
Bowden’s umpiring career slowly ended after he was removed successively from major umpiring panels. His last match was his 200th ODI as an umpire, between New Zealand and Australia back in February 2016. He has not appeared as an umpire in an international match after that.