Kulkarni wrote the first official Kannada version of the laws in 2017 after the seventh code of laws was published. He prepared the second version after an amendment in 2019, much before the laws appeared in French and Hindi. The Kannada version appeared on the Marylebone Cricket Club website (www.lords.org) in December, 2019.
“Cricket has given me so much and it is my duty to give something back to the game. Even while umpiring, I was involved in teaching officials. After retiring from umpiring, I was among the resident faculty at BCCI’s National Academy for Umpires (NAU) at Nagpur. In Karnataka, we used to go to mofussil areas to update local umpires about the laws. There I found that the umpires understood the laws better if they were explained in their mother tongue. That was when I thought of translating the laws into Kannada for the benefit of cricket enthusiasts who speak the language,” said Kulkarni, who was an umpire in the BCCI panel for nearly two decades (1990-2008), officiating in over 100 matches including two ODIs and an Asian Cricket Council Fast Track Countries tournament in Singapore.
Vinayak N Kulkarni at an Umpires Seminar at the National Academy of Umpires (NAU), Nagpur.
The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) accepted the Kannada version only after careful examination by a Kannada professor and a certification from the University of Mysore after which the document was submitted through the Karnataka State Cricket Association. Cricket has been governed by a series of codes of laws for over 270 years and since 1787, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has been regarded as the sole authority for drawing up these codes and its amendments.
Kulkarni published a Kannada version of the laws in 1998, although it was not an official one. “It was popular then. Once, two youngsters knocked on the door of my Jayanagar house at night, requesting a copy of the book as they had to sort out an on-field row!” he said.
Kulkarni has also authored a number of umpire training books, including those on simplified laws and playing conditions. He is currently working on a comprehensive training manual for umpires, which is likely to be published later this year.
Inspired by the Kannada version, former BCCI umpire Rajiv Risodkar from Madhya Pradesh translated the laws into Hindi which the MCC adopted recently.
Originally from Belagavi, Kulkarni is the first umpire from North Karnataka to officiate in an international match as well as inducted in the BCCI Umpires Panel. He started his umpiring career in 1978 in Maharashtra, where he was employed with State Bank of India. He also served as an umpire’s coach with a Level III certificate from the BCCI and Cricket Australia. Even though he is not part of BCCI’s umpires educators now because of the age limit, he feels that it should not be a criteria when it comes to imparting knowledge. “As long as you are accepted by the students of laws of cricket and can articulate the subject well into their minds, age shouldn’t be a problem,” said the 66-year-old umpire.
He is married to Geetha Kulkarni and has two children- Vishal and Varsha. Kulkarni keeps himself busy amid the pandemic, conducting online classes for hundreds of umpires across India.