LONDON:Legendary cricket umpire Dickie Bird said he "never dreamed" of being immortalised in bronze as he unveiled a statue of himself in his home town of Barnsley, northern England.
The 74-year-old took the wraps off a scale model of a six foot statue which features him in his trademark flat cap and with upraised finger giving a batsman out, that will stand in Barnsley from October.
Replics of the work will also be on display in Melbourne and Mumbai.
"I have umpired at four World Cup finals and I was awarded an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire medal) in 1986, but this moment is right up there with those," said Bird.
"Growing up in Barnsley, I never dreamed there would be a statue of me in the middle of the town."
He was not keen on the first model produced by sculptor Graham Ibbeson because it appeared too stern but said he was happy with the artist's 'second innings', remodelled to show Bird with a smiling face.
"Now Graham has got the stance just right, the Reebok trainers and my 'finger of fate' pointing in the air," Bird said.
School children from across south Yorkshire will help Ibbeson create the life-size Dickie Bird sculpture at a series of workshops this year.
Bird, who as a young cricketer played in the same Barnsley club team as future England batting great Geoff Boycott, had a modest first-class career with Yorkshire and Leicestershire.
But he found his true-calling as an umpire. From 1973-1996 he stood in a then world-record 66 Tests, a mark since broken by West Indies' Steve Bucknor and several other officials, before retiring from first-class cricket in 1998.
Celebrated for his nervous mannerisms at the crease, Bird was widely respected for the quality of his decision-making and, above all, his ability to defuse potentially volatile situations with commonsense and humour.