Standing In The Middle: Umpire Rohan Shah

Cricket is a funny game. It offers opportunities to every player irrespective of his height, weight and physical appearance. It does not matter if a cricketer is heavy or lean, tall or short; it is the attitude of the sportsman to aim higher and stay focused that matters in the game of Cricket. As it is called, a gentleman’s game, Cricket, demands only a single thing from its player: Commitment, packed with perseverance, self-denial, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and respect for authority.

Such is the story of Umpire Rohan Shah, a level 4 Cricket Umpire, a Level 1 Coach and a well-known Insurance and Investment Advisor from the Scarborough district of Toronto, Ontario. From playing street cricket in India to donning the hat of a national Umpire in Canada, Shah’s story may seem unreal that many people aspire to accomplish while only some actually achieve this feat.

Born in a middle-class Gujarati family, a thin and lanky Shah had dreams of being a cricketer. “We were always a middle-class family who took pride in our little set-up,” reminisces Shah. Chasing his father’s dream that soon became his own, Rohan Shah is a living example of one just having to have a goal and grind to reach it, and the rest follows.

Starting with gully cricket, young Rohan played Cricket for his school, college and university. He was an opening batsman, a one-down medium pace bowler and a strong fielder at the long-on position. Shah was looked at as a strong all-rounder for the next level .” This kid will go far,’” predicted the Pundits after Shah wreaked havoc in college cricket in three overs ( two maidens) and took 8 wickets for 2 runs.
Life always gives another chance when it asks one to move on. “The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience. Trust your instincts, and make judgments on what your heart tells you and it will not betray you,” states Shah.

So Shah listened to his soul and moved to Canada in 2005. He Joined Hindustan 11 in 2009 and captained the Toronto Lumberjack in 2011. Shah was also part of the 2010 team for Golden Oldies by Air New Zealand in the UK as a batsman and an off-spin bowler.

As a keen sportsman, who has been interested in outdoor games, the urge to understand the rules and principles of the game he played was always paramount. “It was but natural that when professional commitments and age intervened, it prompted me to take up cricket umpiring to be in tune with them.” shares Shah.

What started as a hobby soon became a passion, and Shah started to enjoy his umpiring. He started observing experienced umpires, fellow umpires in TCU&SA and Cricket Canada and his family friends. In between, Shah consistently worked on his concentration, upgraded his knowledge frequently, applied the laws fairly and in the process, met and made many new friends and retained his reference with old ones.

As an Umpire, Shah has an impressive dossier to his credit. He has been a Cricket Canada fully qualified Umpire since 2012 and a Certified Coach ICC Level-1. Shah is also a WICUA (West indies) fully qualified Umpire since 2019. With 15 years of Cricket umpiring experience at Nationals and Provisionals tournaments, Shah has officiated many an important match, including the ICC I Cup 4day at MLCC in 2013, ICC World Cup Qualifier ODI at MLCC in 2013, 5th Central America Championship at Panama-March in 2015, Costa Rica vs Belize ICC Development Women’s T20 Tournament in 2019, Canada T20 Premier League Tournament and Final in 2020, Niagara T20 Cricket Final in 2020 and 2021, Cricket Open T-20 Tournament and Final –Edmonton – 2021. In the Global T20, 2018, Shah was its DL Manager. In GT20-Season 2(2019), Shah was the 4th Umpire, DL Manager, and the Umpire Liaison Officer. Besides these, Shah has been officiating Play-Offs, Finals Super-9 Division, and Elite Divisions TDCA matches for the past 10 years.

Shah’s most memorable match is the first ICC World Cup qualifier between Canada and UAE. The best Umpiring decision that Shah cherishes is his LBW decision for Saad Zafar in the TDCA 2018 Super 9 Final.” Every match is memorable for me, though,” smiles Shah.

Since 2008 Shah has been a member of the Toronto Cricket Umpire and Scorers Association(TCU&SA), the largest Umpire association in Canada. Currently, Shah is the Secretary of the same organization (Toronto Cricket Umpire & Scorer’s Association). Besides being an executive member of the organization since 2015. Shah is also a member of the Cricket Canada National committee for Umpires and a trainer and examiner for Umpires– Cricket Canada for Ontario and Eastern Canada.

In 2018 Shah was awarded Umpire of the Year by Toronto Cricket Umpires.

As a member of Cricket Canada’s National Committee, Shah’s responsibilities encompass developing and implementing a sturdy umpiring structure and an actionable pathway in the country. Shah is extremely optimistic about improving umpiring standards in Canada through the newly appointed national committee for umpires which is taking umpiring in a new direction. Shah is also hopeful about the future of Cricket in Canada, “It is the fastest developing sport in Canada and in the world. I would wait to see Cricket included in the Olympics soon,’ says Shah. Further, he recommends reaching out to different communities and encouraging them, educate about the cricketing laws and mentoring them to popularize Cricket umpiring as a profession.

Shah wakes up every morning with devout thanksgiving for his friends, family and colleagues .” Simon Fry, Peter Nero, Gregory Braithwaite, David Juke, Krishna Hariharan, Reon King, and others, I always learnt something from these stalwarts to succeed in the field,” acknowledges Shah. Shah is also thankful to Cricket Canada for allowing him to make it to the national level as an umpire.” Through my commitment and the supporting system we have in Cricket Canada, I have reached his level,” states a grateful Shah.

Fortunate with the family support, by all means, is one of the reasons for Shah’s success in Life and his umpiring career. Shah’s family consisting of his wife and two daughters, have sacrificed almost all summer weekends with a smile to support his passion for Cricket.” I need my family and friends around all the time. They are always my number one priority, and that will never change.” asserts Shah.

Shah is thankful for what he has, and he gets more in return. “The journey from 1991 to date has been truly enjoyable,” says a content Shah.” Life is more fun if you play games . Every game is different, and though you need to prepare accordingly, the ground rule is the same “, says Shah with a twinkle in his eyes.

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