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Umpiring New Zealand v Australia

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Glenn Schache is a legendary umpire and scorer from Northern Districts, New Zealand who currently resides in Melbourne, Australia. He officiated as an umpire in New Zealand from 2001-2012, officiating numerous club matches in the Counties Manukau Region and 35 district association games in the Northern Districts Region. Further, he officiated 2 Northern Districts A matches. He also officiated three National Club Championships in Auckland. He was a scorer in New Zealand from 1993-1998, scoring 50 district association games in Norther Districts Region, including one tour game (Northern Districts v England) in 1997. The highlight of his scoring career, was a test as the press scorer in 1997 in the test match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka. In 1999, he was the scorer in the one day international in the match between New Zealand and India. He is still providing statistics for the Counties Manuka District Association and is currently working on a project with Evan Watkin (former New Zealand umpire) to get all New Zealand district association scorecards online. In Melbourne, he has officiated 112 matches in Victoria Premier Cricket and holds heritage number 516. He has officiated 3 National Inclusion Championships and one National Blind Cricket Championship. He is a current committee member of the Victoria Cricket Association Umpires and Scorers Association (VCAUSA). Proudly, he has participated in three Crockett Shield matches (VCAUSA v SACUSA) winning two matches. His off field contribution to cricket has been equally impressive, recognised for the following awards: 2016 - Counties Manukau Cricket Association Service award;
2017 - Service to cricket award Northern Districts Cricket; 2019 - Life member of the Counties Manukau Cricket Association When Phil asked me to write this piece, my mind immediately went back to when I met him. This momentous meeting of the minds occurred in April of 2011 at Cornwall Park in Auckland. Cornwall Park is one of the many beautifully scenic grounds around New Zealand. It is nestled at the base of the volcano Maungakiekie or One Tree Hill. The park is home (funnily enough) to the Cornwall Cricket Club which, as some of you know, holds the annual NZ National Cricket Club Championships. This week-long tournament brings the best six clubs from around Aotearoa to Cornwall Park, one club from each major association. Cricket Victoria has been sending umpires to this tournament on exchange for many years. I had been coming up the road from my base in Counties Manukau to participate for a few years, as had my colleague Ash Mehtora. The first time I met Phil it was raining, which is certainly not unusual for this time of year in Auckland. We got to discussing the tournament and Phil asked me if grounds in NZ were always like this. I think the picture above highlights what he meant. The umpire from the top game is at wide mid off for the bottom game! Certainly, in this tournament you must keep an eye and an ear on the action behind you! The whole cricket ground is about 10 acres in size and was the site of an olive grove until the 1950’s. As the diagram below shows, the cricket club fit three senior pitches and 18 junior pitches into this area. This makes for some big hitting during the club champs, especially if the game is on the 3rd senior pitch. The straight boundary at the bottom end is very short and a lot of time is spent fetching the ball from the neighbouring hospital’s car park! I remember one year the McCullum brothers having an absolute feast playing for Green Island. The answer to Phil’s question is “Yes”, most grounds in NZ try to fit two or three pitches in. This highlights one of the biggest differences I have found between cricket in NZ and Melbourne – the size & condition of the grounds. We are extremely fortunate here in Melbourne that most Premier Cricket grounds are dedicated to cricket and host one game per oval. In my first season here in 2012 was spent marvelling at the standard of the pitches, grounds and club rooms. Grounds like Dandenong, Geelong, Northcote and Ringwood were superb and steeped in history. A newer ground was Casey Fields where the ovals were immaculate. All firsts & seconds grounds have dedicated staff that ensure the standard is kept very high. Back home in Counties Manukau, just south of Auckland, the story had been a lot different. It is a mostly country based area and, of the 6 Premier clubs, only one had a dedicated cricket oval. The others shared facilities with the winter codes of rugby or soccer. Most of the time, this meant an uneven outfield. Most first grounds would have decent size boundaries but there was usually a game on next to it. The club rooms and changing facilities were of differing standards too but were structured for the winter codes. Ground staff are council employed and cover multiple grounds which can lead to under prepared pitches. A big difference between the two counties, especially early in the season, is the weather. October is wet in both, but usually worse in NZ. The first 3 or 4 rounds are limited over games played on artificial pitches, if they go ahead at all. Grass pitches are not played on until November. Later in the season, the hottest us Kiwis have to handle is 28-30 rather than 40-42 in Melbourne. I had never experienced anything like the cool change that swept across Camberwell and dropped the temperature by 10 degrees in half an hour! As there were only a few umpires in our region, we often umpired on our own – even at Premier level. I know sub-association umpires here must do the same so know how tiring that can be. We umpires carried our own stumps to games so what a pleasure it is not to have to carry a golf bag full of stumps around! Only having 6 premier teams means you know everyone, and they know you! You are umpiring guys who you played with and against. This presents a challenge to not relax too much and stick to your guns when needed. It can be a good thing too, when you get to know how the players react to varying situations. Having many more players in Melbourne means most of us will only umpire the same team 2 or 3 times a year rather than 2 or 3 times a month! There are many differences, yes, but also many similarities. Of course, cricket is cricket, the laws are the laws and players are still players. They will dispute decisions they don’t like regardless of the accuracy of the decisions. Captains will always mark you down if you give them out LBW :-). My first umpiring coach would always say that 20 years on, you could tell who won the game by the umpiring report. There is a lot more structure in Premier Cricket around discipline, and more support for the umpires, but behaviour is about the same in both countries – mostly good! The camaraderie of umpiring is certainly the same. As umpires, we always enjoy socialising with other umpires. Indeed, this can be the best way to talk about what works and what doesn’t in certain situations. Top class umpires are, for the most part, always willing to share their experiences with less experienced colleagues. Counties Manukau enjoys a very good name in umpiring, with several first-class umpires and a couple of test umpires from the area. Tony Hill was not far off a test umpire when I started umpiring and he gave all of us very good advice over the years. It was great a few years ago to meet him in Melbourne as he stood in a Boxing Day test. I have been lucky to be involved in two great tournaments that really exemplify the camaraderie. In NZ, there is a limited overs tournament for the six Northern Districts district associations. Six or seven umpires from the ND area spent three days together. I got to stand with first class and test umpires, including Steve Dunne, who, of course, was at the other end when Darrell Hair took a dislike to Muttiah’s bowling action. Many thoughts and opinions were swapped in post-match reviews and continued over dinner later in the evening. Lots of first class players participate in this tournament so the standard is always high. Over in Geelong, I have been privileged to be involved at the National Inclusion champs. Umpiring blind, deaf and ID players brings a new challenge, one which is great to share with several other umps living in the same facility for a week. We have had lots of lively discussions about playing conditions, Big Bash cricket, what shirts we are wearing and wine & food!! Having first class umpires there is invaluable to all of us, especially the less experienced ones. In summary, there will always be similarities and differences wherever this great game of ours is played. I feel privileged to have been fortunate to stand in the games I have with the colleagues that I have stood with. From Whangarei to Gisborne, from Geelong to Sale and a lot of places in between, cricket has always been the winner!!!

Stumped - One Cricket Umpire, Two Countries

Who in their right mind would want to be cricket umpire? This is the question Premier Cricket Umpire Richard Harrison poses in his recently released book; Stumped - One Cricket Umpire, Two Countries. Stumped is a delightful and very funny memoir that charts the author’s ‘entirely unplanned journey into cricket umpiring,’ while he was living in the village of Sevenoaks, Kent. He attends his first training course at the local rugby club, sits his first exam and makes his debut in a pre-season village friendly. The following year he progresses to the Kent League (umpiring matches each Saturday) while he launches a playing career (on Sundays) with a nearby village team, after a twenty year absence from the game. He returns to Australia six years later, where he now umpires some of the world’s best female cricketers in Victoria’s Premier Cricket Competition. Stumped is a wonderful and very entertaining book. It is packed with hilarious anecdotes, incidents and experiences from a career that so far spans fifteen years and two countries. We meet some tremendous characters along the way and visit some of the most beautiful and picturesque cricket grounds in the world, in a book that throughout celebrates the most wonderful, complex and historic game there is. As the author himself concludes in the book’s Foreword - ‘Lest anyone be in any doubt, consider this; Games have rules. Cricket has laws.’ Stumped is available as an eBook, Paperback (and soon an Audio Book) from Amazon; Thanks to the Victoria Cricket Association Umpires and Scorers Association for graciously sharing this article.

Pink Cricket Balls May Be Visually Challenging at Sunset

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Joshua Adie is a cricket umpire on the 1st Grade Panel in Brisbane, Queensland. Joshua is also a PhD candidate at QUT in the School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences. His research explores how elite-level cricket umpires make LBW decisions, and hopes to translate the findings of his research into evidence based training programs for grassroots umpires as well as further develop umpires at the top level. Joshua is interested in general decision-making of sports officials, heuristics & biases, and gaze behaviours of elite performers. Please click on the following link to read Joshua's paper.

Where to Stand - A Cricket Umpires Guide

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Richard Patterson is an Australian first class umpire. Internationally, he officiated one test match as third umpire in the match between Australia and the West Indies at the MCG in 2000. He also officiated four men's one day internationals as third umpire in 2001/2002 and three women's one day internationals in 2002 and 2012. Domestically, he officiated twenty two first class matches including three tour matches featuring the West Indies, England and India and twenty one List A matches. Off field, his contributions have been significant, particularly as a mentor to current Cricket Australia National Umpire panel members. Furthermore, he was the Cricket Victoria State Umpire manager from August 2013 to September 2017. He is currently the Cricket Australia Umpire Education Manager.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Claire Polosak is a member of the ICC Development Panel. She is the first female to officiate a men's one day international, when she stood in the match between Namibia and Oman in April 2019. Internationally, she has officiated 17 women's one day internationals and 33 women's T20 internationals. Domestically, in October 2017 in the match between NSW and CA XI she became the first female to officiate an Australian domestic List A match, having officiated 3 in total. She has officiated a further 20 women's T20 domestic matches and 13 men's domestic T20 matches as the 3rd umpire. Claire has also stood in the following ICC tournaments: ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifies | Bangkok | November – December 2015 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup | India | March 2016 ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifies | Sri Lanka | February 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup | United Kingdom | June – July 2017 ICC women’s T20 World Cup Qualifies | Netherlands | July 2018 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup | West Indies | November 2018 ICC World Cricket League Division Two (Men) | Namibia | April 2019 ICC Under 19 World Cup Qualifies (Men) | Japan | June 2019 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifies | Scotland | August – September 2019 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup | Australia | March 2020 Claire's contribution off field is equally impressive in her role as Umpire Educator/ Female Umpire Engagement with Cricket New South Wales, where she is fortunate to be working with the rest of the umpiring team at Cricket New South Wales to increase the numbers of females taking up the best seat in the middle. In NSW in 2019/20, there were 286 umpiring appointments filled by females, 152 of these were in Premier Cricket. Teamwork. That elusive beast that ensures sports officials a smoother ride. Like most aspects to umpiring and officiating, work you put in before the game starts ensures that the game will (hopefully) be more straightforward to manage. Some people are naturally more inclined to be effective team members, teamwork is often an invisible aspect to our own personality and character. Like anything else in life, teamwork is a skill that can be improved through consistent practice and mindfulness. For me, the first aspect of teamwork is to check your ego at the door. The old saying, of “There is no ‘I’ in team” is so true when looking at the role of the sports official and how we go about our business. When you step out onto the field, you want to know that your partner has got your back no matter what happens. This leads to a deep, sometimes unsaid understanding that you will both do what you can to ensure you BOTH have a good day. In Cricket, fortunately under the Laws, we are meant to work with someone. While in some competitions, umpires officiate by themselves, there is no doubt that umpiring with another person should be much more effective than going it solo. In umpiring, particularly Premier (Club) Cricket, teamwork starts well before you arrive at the ground. It is customary to phone your partner a couple of days before the match to discuss a variety of logistical arrangements for the weekend. Things like: - Time of game - Time of arrival - The type of game (One Day, 2 day, T20) you will be involved with - If you know of any particular characteristics of players in the team/s - What shirt you are planning on wearing, both to the ground as well as on field. - Anything else that may be relevant to the game, for example do you know of any sneaky carparking spots at the ground you are heading to. While discussing the shirt you are planning on wearing to the ground and on field may appear both simple and also controlling, turning up to the ground in the same attire creates a strong first impression to the two teams playing the game, that there is indeed a third team there to participate for the day. You only get one first impression. While wearing the same shirt on field is a requirement of the game that you are involved in. For me, Teamwork can then be split into different segments, depending on the time or aspect of the game. I have split them up below for more targeted discussion. Before game - If you arrive at the ground before your partner, do not go out to the middle of the ground before your partner gets there. Even if there is weather around. This is possibly one of the biggest faux pas in umpiring. Just do not do it. We are a team, we head out to the ground as a team. IF you are at the ground before your partner, and a member of the playing team say something about the condition of the ground, be polite, but firm. “Thanks for the information, I’ll have a look when _______ gets here”. - Spend the time you have with your partner to discuss the Playing Conditions that are going to be used. This is the time where if either of you have a difference in understanding that you can check the book without the added stress of captains looking over your shoulder. - Also spend time with your partner working through aspects of the day that will make both of your days better, these may include, but are not limited to: o Any signals that you are planning on using during the game o How do you show at square leg that the ball has hit the bat/ body/ missed everything? o When will you be crossing/ not crossing for a L/R hand combination? o When are you going to update the captain on their over rates during the game o What are you going to talk to the captains about during the toss? - After the toss with the captains, don’t forget the other members of the third team- the Scorers, particularly if you are lucky enough to have dedicated scorers, as opposed to players who are sharing the scoring duties. Scorers need to know who has won the toss and who is batting/ bowling. It could also be a good idea to also mention any of the breaks/ drinks in play there will be. During game - Eye contact between the pair of you is incredibly important, and in many respects can prevent any trouble brewing. Eye contact between each delivery is important, and is crucial for communicating with your partner. - If you provide a warning to either team (eg. Bowler in the protected area), make sure you pass that information on to not only the fielding captain, but also your partner as the warning applies to both ends- this is important information to share. - Make sure you use the signals you agreed on before the game at the various times during the game. - Never comment to a player about a decision your partner has made. This is never regarded well by either team. A deflection comment may help here “I’m not in the best position to see” - In the interval I will often ask partners, particularly partners whom I have not stood with before/ very often, if there is anything we would like to do differently for the next session. This allows the opportunity for any changes to be made to ensure the following session of play is even better. - Walk on, and off the field together. If there is any hospitality at the ground (lunch, tea for example) head to the canteen/ clubhouse together. During Ground, Weather and Light (AKA GWL) - As Cricket is played in Summer, we can go for multiple games, or even seasons when our games are not affected by bad weather. When there is bad weather it is time to really be a team and work together when assessing the ground and the suitability of play, always within the laws and playing conditions! - When inspecting the conditions of the ground after rain, always do so together. - When speaking to the captains about any concerns that you have with the ground, the changing parameters of the game, it is easy for the “more experienced” umpire to dominate the conversations with the captains. It may be useful to deliberately take it in turns in speaking with the captains. - Before you do speak with the captains, working out a ‘script’ of the message that you are wanting to convey to the captain may assist you when speaking After game - When the day or game is over, spend some time relaxing with your team member - you have (hopefully) just had a great day! - This is a time to debrief with your partner about the day, have a casual chat about how the day went, what could be done differently and how you can both improve for next time. - In some competitions there is a post match meeting between the captains, the umpires as well as a facilitator, this can be a valuable opportunity to receive feedback from the captains involved in the game. Listen respectfully to the feedback, no matter what you think about the feedback you are receiving. - When providing feedback to your umpiring colleague, ensure that it is done respectfully and from the opinion of improving for both your partner and you. Remember the point about checking your ego at the door? I personally only share any feedback that I have, if I have been asked by my partner. I also make sure I share positive things they did throughout the day as well as anything constructive that I want to share as well. For me, teamwork comes down to what sort of person I would want to spend the day with, and I do my best to stick to those values. You will always find other umpires who you don’t click with, and possibly wouldn’t spend any social time with, however, it is all about being professional at all levels of Cricket, to ensure you can both get the job done to the best of your ability. What tips do you have for teamwork when umpiring? What characteristics have you seen in other umpires that exhibit great teamwork? Please leave your comments below.

Cricket Victoria Winter Classes - Webinar Laws 31 - 42

Please find attached the link to the Cricket Victoria Winter Classes - Webinar 2 Laws 31 - 42

Cricket Victoria Winter Classes - Webinar Laws 1 to 30

Please find attached the link to the Cricket Victoria Classes - Webinar 1 Laws 1 to 30

When in doubt it's not out: LBW decision making across match types.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Joshua Adie is a cricket umpire on the 1st Grade Panel in Brisbane, Queensland. Joshua is also a PhD candidate at QUT in the School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences. His research explores how elite-level cricket umpires make LBW decisions, and hopes to translate the findings of his research into evidence based training programs for grassroots umpires as well as further develop umpires at the top level. Joshua is interested in general decision-making of sports officials, heuristics & biases, and gaze behaviours of elite performers. Please click on the following link to read Joshua's paper.

ACA Interview with Shawn Craig

SHAWN CRAIG INTERVIEW Shawn, congratulations on your appointment to the National Umpire Panel; what does this mean for your career? It’s the culmination of 4-5 years of hard work. I retired from cricket, had a year off and then started umpiring. It was all (former Cricket Victoria Umpire Education Manager) Bob Parry’s fault – he kept asking me what I planned to do (post-playing). He’d actually approached me a couple of years earlier when I was still playing at St Kilda. I think I said, “Get lost! Why would I want to be one of you blokes?” but I also said, “Look, you never know; ring me when I’ve retired.” And he did. An opportunity came up to apply to join the Cricket Australia Project Panel (CAPP), and after a chat with Sean Cary, I did. A few months later I had an interview and three days after that I got the nod that I was in. That weekend I stood in my first game – St Kilda versus Camberwell in the Third XI (with Paul Jennings) out in suburbia, and having never umpired a game of cricket in my life! I saw it as a great opportunity. I was also a member of the CV Premier Panel and I knew I’d be able to umpire (solely) on weekends for the first year or two to see - one, if I was any good and - two, if I enjoyed it. Turns out I loved it; I loved being involved. I wasn’t very exciting to watch when I batted so I’m used to being out there for long periods without doing anything! Were there moments when you were out there thinking, “This is a far cry from the MCG or the Gabba”? I played my last game for Victoria in 2001 and didn’t start umpiring until 2010-11 so I’d had a fair break from it. I’d had a wonderful 7,8,9 years playing Premier cricket; that’s where you start, that’s where you finish, that’s where you play if you’re not playing for your State. So if you don’t love Premier cricket, then it’s going to be a hard slog and you’re not going to go far. I didn’t play regularly for Victoria so I loved Premier cricket playing for St Kilda. I managed to umpire a Second XI grand final in my first year and soon found myself umpiring in games with players I’d played against. I think that fact that a lot of the players knew me helped to generate a little bit of respect. This was a massive confidence boost, especially in an environment where the challenges are a lot like playing. You need to be able to concentrate for long periods, make good decisions, and move on from any bad ones in much the same way as if you’ve dropped a catch or nearly been dismissed. From the time you started your playing career until now, have you noticed any change in the way players view umpires? Without question! I have not experienced (as an umpire) what I would have subjected an umpire to when I was playing. We used to be pretty hard on them but the landscape’s changed, as have the rules and regulations regarding player behaviour. I believe this has improved things for umpires and improved the game as well. What your highlights from your playing days? Playing alongside guys like Shane Warne, Dean Jones, Matthew Elliott, Brad Hodge, Ian Harvey, Darren Berry, David Saker, Damien Fleming, Paul Reiffel among others - as well as against players of similar calibre like Adam Gilchrist, Justin Langer, Steve and Mark Waugh, Brett Lee, Brad Haddin, and Simon Katich. I was a bit star-struck in that environment as I was always battling to get a regular game. I continued with my work (outside of cricket) and looked at other options for when my time was done. I was lucky enough to play in a team which one the Mercantile Mutual Cup in 1998-99 against New South Wales on the MCG. Through (former Victorian coach) John Scholes I watched as a successful team culture was built and took Victoria from a talented side to one which was both talented and successful. I played in a number of premierships for St Kilda; we won something like nine flags from eleven finals across all the competitions. Who have been some of the key people in your umpiring career? The CAPP have been brilliant. Bob Parry is the Umpires’ Educator at Cricket Australia. Denis Burns, Bob Stratford, David Levens, Daryl Harper, Steve Bernhard, Sean Cary, Simon Taufel – their experience on and off the field have provided a wealth of knowledge to draw upon. The Cricket Victoria umpires’ pathway is excellent. I’m lucky to have a group of mentors, each with their own strengths. Getting appointed to the National Panel has been the highlight of my career so far. Last season I was also fortunate to umpire an ODI as part of the Women’s Ashes on the MCG and was Third Umpire for a Ryobi Cup match as well. There’s been a steady increase in the number of ex- first-class cricketers taking up umpiring; has that help make it a more appealing pathway? Oh, no doubt. There’s a big commitment in umpiring. You’re taking maybe 20-30 days a year off work, exhausting your annual leave, and throwing a lot of time and energy into it. Any support – including financial – is vital. I’ve got three kids to help juggle and a remarkable, supportive wife. Work is difficult to manage for anyone on the Panel. It requires a lot of flexibility and sometimes you’re frightened to ask for leave because some people perceive it (umpiring appointments) as a holiday. I’m a National Sales Manager with Dexion. We manufacture and market logistics and storage products. I’m fortunate in that our new CEO, Paul O’Keefe, has a strong sporting involvement (as a mentor with Geelong Football Club) and he understands and supports what I’m doing. My current manager Andrew Angus (Executive General Manager – Commercial) was also a great support. The introduction of DRS has helped highlight how good umpires are and how many decisions they get right. I think that has helped change people’s perceptions of what we do. What’s your biggest challenge at the moment? Finding a way to balance work, family and umpiring. On the field, the challenge is to be like an AFL umpire or a wicketkeeper: manage the match but go largely unnoticed. It’s incredibly challenging to concentrate for six plus hours a day for 2,3,4 days in a row. As a player, you were renowned for having strong concentration and spending a lot of time at the crease. What’s harder – batting or umpiring? I think they’re similar. As an umpire you have to concentrate like a batsman; focus on the ball like a bowler; know the field positions like a captain; and know all the rules and playing conditions. You have to be able to switch on and off; know all the players from both teams; communicate with the captains; potentially deal with broadcasters and also get your performance reviewed every week. It’s a lot of work that looks like you’re just standing there. It’s an immensely challenging but therefore rewarding occupation. I never understood how much effort was required until I did it. Who do you regard as exceptional within umpiring ranks? Simon Taufel is excellent and someone who understands umpiring and how to educate umpires. Coincidentally, he umpired me when he was coming up through the system. Part of what I’ve learnt from the likes of him is that better people make better umpires. Developing skills in areas like emotional intelligence, psychology, becoming a better people manager or husband, etc all help you become a better officiator. There’s no question that umpiring has helped make me a better person. Are you surprised that it has had such a profound impact? Yes, definitely. I was a very introverted person from a playing perspective. I was sometimes seen as arrogant because I didn’t communicate with people. I saw it as a weakness or a way of dropping my guard so I was never a communicator and that’s certainly the impression the opposition would have had of me. So it’s helped bring you out of your shell? Some people will find that hard to believe because I was a big sledger, but yes! It’s also helped me in my work. In personal testing I tended to rate lower in aspects like emotional intelligence and empathy than in other areas, so the umpiring journey has helped bring those things out more and improved my skillsets. As I’ve grown as an umpire I’m become more forthcoming. I’ll go into the opposition change rooms now, which I never would have done as a player, which was to my detriment. I’m more relaxed now and a better person. The Cricket Australia Project Panel umpire opportunity is available to any retired Australian first-class cricketer, and has paved the way for distinguished former members including Rod Tucker and Paul Reiffel, who now sit on the ICC Elite Panel.

The Invisible Hurdles

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lisa McCabe is a member of the Cricket Victoria State Umpiring Panel. She is a product of the Bendigo and District Cricket Umpires Association and commenced umpiring Victoria Premier Cricket in 2017/18. In 2018/2019 she became the first female to win the prestigious Ron Wright Medal as 3rd grade umpire of the year as well as the first female to officiate a Victoria Premier Cricket final. The following season she became the first female appointed to the Cricket Victoria State Panel and just the second female to officiate in a Victoria Premier Cricket first grade match. Ever had a time when you’ve walked into a room and everything has stopped. No talking, no sounds just 20 to 30 pairs of eyes on you? That was my first ever umpires meeting on an August night in Bendigo. What is she doing here? Must be in the wrong room. One gentleman thought he would let me know that the CWA was meeting down the road. This is just an example of the invisible hurdles that girls and women face when entering the world of cricket umpiring. While it should be known, the challenges we face on field are exactly the same as anyone new to the umpiring game, it’s the other, invisible areas that for the most part no one would ever think about. Coming from the country, traveling to Melbourne for winter classes, while juggling a full time job was a little hurdle at the start. How was I to know that this was probably the easiest I would ever face? The next was to work out how I was going to fit myself into a very male competition in Bendigo. Bendigo cricket never had a female influence in any part of the competition. No female players, they had a 2 female scorers (both mothers of players in their respective teams) and definitely no umpires. It’s a huge hurdle to break through. No matter if you’re from the country or not, it’s the landscape that most female umpires have had to deal with in some way. I have experienced some umpires not wanting to umpire with me. They weren’t into it at all. But really, it was a blessing in disguise. I got to umpire an entire season with the same partner! How lucky was I? And the best reward was that I ended up with one of the best mentors I could’ve ever asked for. The Bendigo players were also supportive and patient. And to this day, are still there whenever I need I shoulder to lean on, or if I need some-advice on what a captain or player was expecting in that situation. Like I said, I got lucky, for the most part the community in Bendigo Cricket has been very supportive I never got to do a 2 day 1st XI game in Bendigo, which is a shame, as the reason I was given was that “ we believe that you won’t be able to handle the pressure, girls just can’t handle it” It was then I found Cricket Australia’s Umpire Educator Richard Patterson and Cricket Victoria’s then State Umpire Manager Jason Leonard Scott’s, offer in joining Melbourne’s Premier (Club) Cricket Competition. I would never have imagined how awesome this move would be. It opened the door to some of the best experiences of my life. With all the hurdles, they have come with some epic highs. If someone had said to me after I walked into that first meeting in Bendigo, that I would get the chance to live and breathe cricket (even if only for 2 weeks at a time), I wouldn’t have believed it. But through hard work and jumping hurdles, I’ve had the chance on a few occasions now. And I've made some of my best friends at the same time. Three of my best friends I got to meet while being at a Cricket Australia U18 Female National carnival, thank goodness for Canberra 2018! I’ve met some of my heroes, even had an award presented to me by one OMG! I’ve been front and centre with some of the Cricket’s next superstars and had the pleasure of giving Ellyse Perry her first wicket in Victorian colours! While it’s never been openly said, there are always the corridor whispers of the “ she’s only there because she’s a female”, “ we don’t get that opportunity so easy”, “ shouldn’t it be on merit, not gender”. Sometimes it’s deafening. But someone wise once said to me, “don’t worry about the knockers, prove your supporters right!” I’m proud to say I’ve got more supporters, than knockers. And to think, most of these barriers I faced before even stepping on a cricket field. Speaking to some of the other women umpires from around the country before writing this, one of the reoccurring areas that came up was the obvious challenge of female change rooms. Ahhhh it’s a hot topic at the moment, due to whether the game has funding for areas like this. While it’s never really crossed my mind, because as most umpire who have umpired with me, know I come pretty much match ready. But it is something that is taken for granted. Everyone has been so kind and lovely in approaching this issue with me, but if anyone has umpired at Greenvale no.4 oval, it’s pretty difficult for a female to get changed out of the boot of her car while the teams are warming up. Notch that up to a bucket list item. I guess what I’m trying to indicate is that, even though this isn’t an issue for most umpires, it’s a very real hurdle female umpire must face and find solutions, or alternatives- the best way to handle it the changeroom without making things awkward with her partner. It’s hard to believe that the easiest area is what happens on the cricket field. The appeals are slightly louder. The half chances are questioned more often because you are (in the early days) perceived as an easy target. But really, every new umpire gets these hurdles, so they are not specific to female umpires. I have had players tell me, they do try and test the girls out because they think we are nice. The little comments of “you did really well out there” and “ was good to see you stand your ground”, whilst coming from a good place, it’s a little frustrating because they aren’t saying that to my male partner. But the more people get to know who you are and what to expect from you, the way you go about your business, the frustrating little comments die down. With all the hurdles, nights driving to and from Melbourne and the many breakfasts eaten in the car on the way to a game, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being an umpire, being a female umpire has made me a better person. I love this game, it’s been in my life as long as I can remember. I’ve made some beautiful friends and some big brothers I never knew I had. So, while some people would have the image that our road is shorter, it is. But the mountain is steeper and the invisible hurdles we have to break through, are there with every step we take.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Craig Thomas is a member of the South Australia State umpire Panel. He has officiated 317 Premier Cricket matches, including153 1st Grade matches and incredibly, the last six 1st Grade Finals. At Cricket Australia level, he has officiated 14 Second XI matches, 14 WNCL matches, 27 WBBL matches, and has represented South Australia at the NICC (Imparja Cup), U18 Female Championships, U17 Male Championships and U19 Male Championships. He has been President of the SACUSA and is currently a serving member on the SACUSA Executive. I am sure we have all heard that ‘Failure to prepare, is preparing to Fail’, and I cannot think of a more valuable quote to remember where umpiring is concerned. It is so important to have everything in order when you are heading out the door to umpire - your umpiring bag; uniform; directions to the ground; knowledge of where to park; knowing who your umpiring partner is; strong familiarity with Playing Conditions; the list goes on… Umpiring cricket is the best seat in the house, and to experience the most enjoyment from this spot, you must first understand the laws and Playing Conditions of the match you are assigned to. The best way to do this is to study the Laws of Cricket through not only playing the game we love, but by reading the little blue book. This process can be helped by attending all the trainings and Laws Study programs that you can physically get to. Being able to absorb the intricacies of our great game by bouncing ideas off other umpires, learning from more experienced ones, and listening to our trainers and mentors, cannot be valued highly enough. To umpire, we must be capable of standing for long periods of time, and of moving to position when required. We must maintain our concentration throughout, so to do this, our body and mind must be ready. Keeping fit by regularly exercising is important - I find long walks with the dog extremely beneficial, especially during pre-season, to get some kilometres into the legs. Eating food that will sustain your energy for extended periods in the days leading into the match, and drinking plenty of water, will also assist your mental and physical alertness. Ok, so let’s say we have attended all of our Panel meetings, Laws Study evenings, done our on-line trainings, have the best understanding of the Laws and Playing Conditions of the match, and we are physically fit for the game that has been appointed to us for the weekend. If I haven’t been there before, I start by making sure I know how to find the ground and where to park. Google Maps is great for this and will also highlight any potential holdups in traffic (ie: festivals, pageants, etc). Next, I doublecheck my umpiring bag to make sure everything is there and in working order. Then, I make sure I have the correct uniform, on-field shirt, off-field shirt, etc. The day before the match I contact my umpiring partner, usually starting with a simple text to check the time we are arriving at the ground, and which on-field shirt we will be wearing, and I communicate that I’m looking forward to the game. This can develop into a phone call to clarify, if needed, and is a really important step to building your teamwork for the match. As I found out recently, it can also be an opportunity to get to know your umpiring partner better. We all know how COVID-19 put a premature stop to the 2019/20 season. In South Australia, it was the Tuesday before our Semi-Finals in Premier Cricket and our allocations for these games had been published on MyCricket. We were all notified Wednesday that all cricket was to be definitely cancelled. On the Friday before the game, I received a phone call from Dhaval Bhatt, who was to be my umpiring partner for the cancelled Semi-Final, saying how excited he was to be doing his first 1st Grade Semi with me the next day!! I had to say, “Mate, you know the game is canned,” thinking he had not seen the cancellation. This was met by raucous laughter from Dhaval on the other end of the phone. Of course he knew!! The night before the game calls for a good meal, one last check that you have all your clothes ready to go for the next day, and then a good nights’ sleep. The morning of the match should be kept as simple and easy as possible. Leave with plenty of time to get where you need to go - the last thing you need is for all your prep to go down the drain by rushing to get there. Make sure, when you arrive at the venue, you appear calm and in control, because you do not get another chance to make a good first impression. Be courteous to all stakeholders, and make sure you make them feel you are happy to be there. Always do a thorough ground inspection with your umpiring partner, making sure to notice if there are any reasons why play may not be able to start on time. When back in the changeroom before start of play is a great time to discuss wide interpretations, soft signalling and any other fieldcraft techniques that you both think may add value to your teamwork throughout the match. While organising yourself to be game ready, it is important to remember the people around you: life partners, kids, friends and co-workers can provide essential support to us so we can be free to pursue the passion of umpiring. To sum up, if you prepare well and be good to the people around you, you will be able to ENJOY your view from the best seat in the house.

What's your decision?

Thanks to the England and Wales Cricket Board Association of Cricket Officials for the following link. Let us know how accurate your decision making is in the comments below.

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