Umpire pulls stumps on international career

MATT RICHENS
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014
Gary Baxter
Photosport

GO WELL: Australian Rod Tucker, left, wishes Gary Baxter well in what has become his final international cricket match.

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Nine years after Gary Baxter - umpiring just his second ball of top flight cricket to give out Adam Gilchrist - the Canterbury official has pulled stumps on his international career.

He will still do at least one more year of first-class cricket before hanging up his clicker for good to focus on other pursuits.

The grandfather of four was not going to be involved in next year's World Cup and the 62-year-old thought now was the right time to bow out.

"At my age, I'm never going to get on the elite panel now," he said. "I had a good stint, I thought the one-dayer I did in Hamilton between New Zealand and India in January was going to be my last. I mentioned it to [fellow umpire] Rod Tucker and, unbeknown to me, he organised for the New Zealand guys to sign a jersey for me which was really nice."

Baxter stood in 38 one-day internationals and 16 international Twenty20s.

A trained fireman, Baxter started umpiring club cricket in 1997 and then early in the 2000s was being used as a television umpire.

In 2005 he got his first taste of standing in the middle of an international at the then Jade Stadium.

Two balls into the match, New Zealand bowler Kyle Mills got one to straighten to Gilchrist.

There was a huge appeal and barely 30 seconds from the start of his career, Baxter was giving out one of the world's best ODI batsmen.

It was the right call.

"He wasn't angry or anything," Baxter said. "He walked past me and said he was about to congratulate me on my first international, but I gave him out before he had the chance."

New Zealand chased down 332 to beat the Australians in that match, one of New Zealand's most famous one-day victories.

"That game was a highlight, my first and to do it in front of a lot of friends and family was special.

"Australia-England at the SCG in front of 40,000 people [in 2011] was also a highlight, I had a few."

Baxter said it's not a regret, rather a disappointment that he never got to umpire a test.

"I'm realistic, but it still a bit disappointing. We had guys like Billy [Bowden] and Tony [Hill] on the elite panel so it was always going to be tough. I would have liked to stand in a test, I thought I was good enough, but a country the size of New Zealand was always unlikely to get three."

He still enjoyed umpiring and was looking forward to another season of first-class cricket, maybe two, if they want him.

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