The sun never sets on the British umpire
It is around twenty past seven on a glorious late July evening and I am standing in a match between neighbouring clubs in the third tier of the league. The penultimate over is about to begin. Chasing two-hundred-and-thirty, the batting side are around fifteen short so all options are on the table. The tension is palpable as a raucous pavilion bar looks on. It has been a superb game of ebb-and-flow League cricket played in the best of spirits. I glance over to my colleague who is taking the bowler’s end and smile – we know what is at stake.
The ninth wicket falls on the second ball of the final over, a neat catch taken by first slip. In walks number eleven, a forty-plus medium pacer who can also hold a bat without the scorers needing to sharpen their pencils.
This is what makes cricket such a glorious game – the next four deliveries will determine the outcome of the previous five-hundred-and-ninety-six. The batter plays two of the balls with the confidence and technical skill of a number seven and allows the other two to go through. Local bragging rights for the coming year are shared. Both teams give myself and colleague a guard of honour into the pavilion as the bar – now in a state of frenzy – cheer us in. It has been a wonderful day, certainly the standout match of the one hundred and fifty-plus encounters I have officiated.
I am a qualified cricket umpire with double digit years of experience standing in a Saturday league somewhere in England. I played cricket at club level on and off from 1973 to 1993 and saw icons including Viv Richards, Peter May, Graham McKenzie and Rohan Kanhai live.
Over the years I have accumulated a rich vault of experiences and anecdotes on the squares, in pavilion bars and beyond. Secret Umps provides an insight into the minutiae and dynamics of league cricket from the best view in the house.
I love umpiring and have a great deal of respect for my colleagues, the players and club officials all of whom work and play tirelessly to keep grassroots cricket strong. I am proud and humbled to be part of the circuit.
I hope this blog will be enjoyed by cricket lovers everywhere and if people take up umpiring after reading it, that would be a real bonus.
I welcome feedback, please engage through Email.
Not Out, May 2019.