By Elroy Stephney‘BEING knowledgeable of the laws whilst looking at the game makes it more enjoyable’ was how the veteran 55- year-old Essequibian, Wazeer Dhanraj described his love and passion for umpiring.It all began in 1994 when he was encouraged to join the Essequibo Umpiring and Scorers Association despite not having any experience in the field at the time. While he confessed to playing cricket primarily during his schooling career, he was unknown around the cricketing circle.His unforgettable journey became even more exciting however, when in 1995 he topped the country at the Preliminary Umpiring exams, gaining 78 marks, while the following year he was successfully in his final written exams.He eventually became a fully qualified Umpire after passing his oral and practical examinations soon after, and then officially commenced his career.The thoughtful and affable ‘countryman’ is revered for memorising the cricketing laws, as he can unhesitatingly pronounce on any of the laws governing cricket, including the recently revised laws too. He acknowledged having regretted not being into Umpiring much earlier since he would have had a better chance of officiating at the national level, given that he would have been much younger.However, he was proud of his achievements, including officiating in inter-county matches at the under-15 and under-19 levels, as well as on the local scene where he still commands respect on the field. He was also privileged to have had the opportunity to witness most of Guyana’s talented cricketers in action.Given his organisational skills and personality, Dhanraj also functions in other capacities, including being Secretary of the Essequibo Cricket Board and the Essequibo Coast/Scorers Association, as well as being a representative on the Guyana Cricket Board. He also previously served as Manager of the Essequibo Senior Inter-County squad; key responsibilities that would have served to enhance his stature in the game.Expressing no regrets at being an Umpire, Dhanraj stated that he will do it all over again since he remains committed and motivated towards improving the general standard of cricket through his action in the middle.In this regard, the multi-talented and soft-spoken former Administrator is now intimately involved in tutoring prospective Umpires whom he is encouraging to take the profession seriously, since it is rewarding according to him. The veteran Umpire also warned of the existing indiscipline of players which he said is discouraging persons from becoming Umpires.However, he was quite supportive of the revised laws that would have been implemented recently which gives Umpires more authority to act. In Essequibo, according to Dhanraj, Umpiring is the last option in the sport, since there are very few qualified Umpires.He is therefore encouraging persons, especially those who would have already played the game, to show an interest by registering with the Association in order to obtain theoretical as well as practical knowledge of the game. The well admired Umpire can be seen on most Sundays standing in the middle and being in command, without much difficulty.Though in the twighlight of his career, he still displays a deep passion for his profession and posited determination, love for the sport and loyalty as primary incentives towards his longevity in the game. He also credited his colleagues, including Deonarine Sewnarine, Dasroy Balgobin, Deva Dass, Kayman Sankar Group of Companies and the Guyana Umpires’ Council as being the driving force behind his accomplishments.While he still enjoys raising his index finger whilst making a legitimate decision, the firm and resilient Dhanraj insists that Umpires must at all times uphold the rule of law, be impartial and conduct the game in the most sportsmanlike fashion.The astute and firm Wazeer Dhanraj is still upholding those sacred principles to date, after 23 years as a dedicated Umpire.