A Tall Story: The life of Nigel Plews


Written by Andrew Hignell

This volume in the Cricket Witness series features the life and times of Nigel Plews, the former Nottingham policeman who became one of world cricket’s most respected umpires, despite never having played at professional level.

Written in conjunction with Nigel’s family, the book draws on the diaries and notebooks which he kept assiduously throughout his career, from his days umpiring in league cricket in the East Midlands and for the Nottingham Police team. Standing at six feet six and a half inches, and wearing his trademark white cap, Nigel exuded a natural authority. He spent two decades umpiring Second Eleven cricket before retiring from the Fraud Squad and, in 1981, joining the Test and County Cricket Board’s reserve list.

Swiftly promoted to the full list, he stood in 11 Tests and many major one-day games and cup finals. In 1994 Nigel was one of the first umpires appointed to the ICC’s elite panel, travelling abroad to stand in Tests and one-day internationals. He retired as an umpire at the end of the 1999 season but continued to be involved in cricket, acting as an advisor when MCC reviewed the Laws, as well as assisting with the training of umpires for the ECB and the ICC.

Tragically, Nigel was diagnosed with inoperable kidney cancer in 2007. During the final years of his life, with the help of his wife and children, he collated his memoirs, recalling the many funny incidents during his career, as well as assembling the delightful family photographs which adorn this book. It is a heartwarming tale about a gentle and humble man who rose from the ranks and became an inspirational role model for other umpires in the recreational game. One of these was Neil Bainton, now a first-class umpire himself, so it is fitting that he has contributed an introduction to this Tall Story.