Renowned Sri Lankan umpire K T Francis, who stood in Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test match in 1982, passed away at the age of 73, last week after a long battle against diabetes his family said. Francis along with Herbie Felsinger officiated in Sri Lanka’s first-ever Test match against England at the P Saravanamuttu Stadium (then known as the Oval) in Colombo in February 1982. He also had the distinction of ‘standing’ in Sri Lanka’s first one-day international.
Francis was a legend among umpires, having officiated at cricket matches in one form or another for over 40 years. An ICC Elite panel umpire before he retired from the international arena, after standing in 25 Tests and 56 One-Day Internationals from 1982 to 1999. Francis’s career was marked by a steadiness and diligence throughout, along with an uncompromising adherence to the highest umpiring standards. In fact Francis set the very highest standards of integrity among Sri Lankan umpires.
Owing to this virtue of his, Francis had the dubious record of being the first umpire to be removed from the panel of officials just hours before the commencement of a test match in Sri Lanka. The reason for the decision was that Francis had flatly refused to ‘follow instructions’ issued from higher authorities on certain decisions during the course of the match.
Although his moustache gave him a rather stern look, his twinkling eyes gave one a hint of the warm individual behind the forbidding exterior and his delightful sense of humour was a treat to those fortunate enough to experience it.
Farewell ‘KT’ – may the turf lie gently over you and may your integrity on earth reap rich rewards in heaven.