Marcus Couto was left with no other option. Despite being among the most seasoned umpires in the local circuit,his beloved vocation has never been taken too seriously by his family. His kinship with a certain Sachin Tendulkar and an array of other influential acquaintances notwithstanding. Over the years though Couto has developed quite the thick skin when it comes to contending with the many jibes and jokes that he’s at the receiving end of every single day at home. And he insists on never having minded his family’s cynincal take on cricket umpiring as a profession either.
After having heard daughter Joylin forever dismiss his job as a paid vacation,however,the diminutive 51-year-old umpire could think of just one way to help her truly comprehend the worth of cricket umpires like her father. She never knew how difficult it is to be a cricket umpire. To stand under the sun for six hours in a day and keep your concentration levels at an optimum. So I asked Joylin to enrol for the umpires coaching clinic conducted by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) this year. I am sure this will be a huge eye-opener for her, says Couto,who stood in 14 first-class games,30 List A one-dayers and one international women’s contest between India and Australia during an umpiring career that spanned close to 17 years.
A drastic measure it might be. But who can blame Couto. After all which father doesn’t want his daughter to think that what he does is the most important thing in the world. Though she never really harboured a serious love for cricket as a child,20-year-old Joylin does claim to have developed a liking for the sport in the past couple of years. And this new-found appreciation only influenced the TY Bcom student’s decision to take up her father’s challenge more willingly.
I only saw him in action once or twice. But cricket has always played such an integral role in his life,and in our lives too as a result. So after all these years of having turned a blind eye towards it,I thought this was a chance to understand what the fuss was, she says.
Ever since shes started watching regularly,Joylin has also been after my life with a plethora of doubts and questions about rules and stuff. So these classes are even more important to her, adds Couto.
Joylin recalls having felt really out of place on her first day at the coaching clinic. This despite being the only one among her 30 or so aspiring classmates with cricket umpiring in her blood. I did feel quite awkward being the only woman amidst a large group of men. I expected more like me to be here honestly. But now I am feeling more at home,and more importantly the classes have been extremely interesting. I am learning a lot each day, she explains. Despite having overcome her initial discomfort,Joylin is still keeps to herself mainly during the clinic,noting down important points and soaking in every ounce of information that comes her way. Her cricket viewing too has grown immensely in recent times,and at other times she is immersed into her cricket law book.
Not just a pastime
This,however,is no trivial pastime for Joylin. Nor a seasonal fad that will just fade away. Her recent infatuation with cricket in fact is genuine. You just have to look at her daily schedule to know how true that is. Joylin leaves her home in Panvel each morning at five in the morning to reach in time for her TY Bcom classes at St Andrew’s College in Bandra. Following her morning classes she rushes to Currey Road for her Articleship. By five,shes on the train again en route to the Wankhede Stadium for her umpiring classes,which begin at 6.30 pm. Then having burgeoned her cricketing knowledge a little more,Joylin begins her return journey,reaching back home by 11 in the night.
I am on my feet throughout the day. There is so much to do. But I enjoy every second of it, she says.
Couto,who works at the Cricket Club of India (CCI) these days,while being extremely proud of his daughter’s earnestness and ambitiousness is a tad concerned too. At times,he accompanies her to the coaching clinic.
Poor thing,she is on her own throughout the day. We hardly get to meet each other much. So at times I stay back and take her home with me, says Couto,whose younger brother Ricky went to school with Tendulkar and is an umpire himself.
But while her opinion towards cricket and umpiring in particular has changed quite drastically over the last few weeks,her father’s passion hasn’t quite registered itself completely on Joylin’s priority list still. She can now confidently quote laws and clauses about a variety of cricketing topics,be it wicket-keepers or batsmen’s protective equipment.
But is she set to follow in her famous father’s footsteps and don the umpire’s hat in the future? Will Mumbai cricket get to see another Couto sending batsmen on their way and pulling up bowlers for not keeping their foot within the popping crease?
In Joylin’s words,For now,I am not really thinking about it nor am I saying it’s in my plans. Possibly though it might end up being my true calling.