FORMER long-standing First Class and International umpire John Richard Gayle, popularly known as Johnny Gayle died yesterday morning in his native island, Jamaica. Gayle also represented the West Indies in three Test matches. He was 96.According to a release from the West Indies Cricket Umpires Association (WICUA) secretary Vivian Johnson, “This is a difficult day for us all. I would like to inform you of the passing of legendary, long-standing Jamaica and West Indies umpiring giant Mr Johnny Gayle. Mr Gayle died this morning after a short illness.“Johnny served the cricket umpiring fraternity in the West Indies for over 60 years. He served in many capacities including Honorary Secretary and President of the Jamaica Cricket Umpires’ Association, Honorary Secretary of the WICUA for approximately 20 years and WICUA representative on the WICB (CWI) Umpires Subcommittee during that time. The WICUA secretary pointed out that Gayle was also a regional First Class umpire and attained the lofty status as a Test umpire during the 1970s and 1980s. “He was a revered figure in the West Indies and was an instructor on the Laws of cricket examination assessor for most of his career. He was honoured by the WICUA as one of its regional giants at its 50th anniversary celebrations during the biennial convention in Trinidad & Tobago in 2013.Johnny was also honoured by the Jamaican Government with the Order of Distinction for his contribution to cricket umpiring in the West Indies.“The entire West Indies is saddened today and we’re definitely poorer with the loss of this overarching figure of a man that had transcended the sport that we so dearly love. The bible states that “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” Therefore we were prepared for this day. May his soul rest in peace and may light perpetually shine on his soul”.More information on funeral arrangements will be released at a later date.