Bird set in stone
Former umpire Dickie Bird said he was “humbled and proud” as a miniature statue of him was unveiled in his home town of Barnsley.
The 75-year-old has been immortalised in the new work by artist Graham Ibbeson.
The small bronze figure - with raised finger and familiar flat cap - is a scale model of a 6ft statue that will stand on his birthplace in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, from October.
There will also be replicas of the work in the famous cricketing capitals of Mumbai, India, and Melbourne, Australia.
Bird said: “I have umpired at four world cup finals and I was awarded an MBE in 1986, but this moment is right up there with those ones.
“Growing up in Barnsley, I never dreamed there would be a statue of me in the middle of the town.
“The statue could have gone to Lord's or Headingley, which are both very special to me. But I wanted it here in Barnsley, where I was born and bred.”
He was not keen on the first model because it appeared too stern, so Mr Ibbeson remodelled the piece 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.
Ibbeson, who has previously made sculptures of Eric Morecambe and Laurel and Hardy, said he wanted to capture the humanity and warmth of one of Barnsley's most famous residents.
“Dickie is a man of the people, salt of the earth. It is not just about how I and others see him, but how he sees himself,” he said.
School children from across South Yorkshire will help Mr Ibbeson create the life-size Dickie Bird sculpture at a series of workshops this year.
The privately-funded piece was commissioned by University of Leeds lecturer Mel Dyke, who has launched a campaign to bring art to schools through her Sculpture Education Project.
Since he retired as an umpire, Bird has devoted himself to charity work, giving youngsters the opportunity to play sport through his Dickie Bird Foundation.