Return to play?

The latest from the ECB is that they plan to start the professional season on the 1st of August, although the exact details of how the various competitions will be structured remains to be decided. I would expect that red-ball professional domestic cricket will have spectators allowed into the ground, but limited overs cricket might not, especially T20 as that attracts large enough crowds that making people keep their distance would be Challenging. Counties may, I suppose, limit attendance to members only.

No word from the ECB on the community game, but the Surrey Championship in which I normally umpire (as a club umpire, not on the league panel) is planning for a week earlier, on the 25th of July. It will not be a full league season, with no promotion and relegation, and they will only organise games for the 1st and 2nd XIs. My own club, Beddington, runs five league sides, so the 3rds, 4ths and 5ths’ fixtures look like they’ll be left to clubs to organise friendlies against near-neighbours. I normally umpire for the 4th XI (the 1st XI generally has umpires appointed by the league, and the club already has two other umpires who do the 2nd and 3rd XIs) so I should at least have some friendlies this season – and given the age of many umpires, who as a result may be anxious about exposing themselves to filthy disease-ridden players, I may be umpiring up a division or so sometimes.

Continuous Professional Development, pt 3: conflict management

The most recent CPD video from the ACO was on conflict management, something that has only really come up a couple of times in my games, one of which came about because of an error on my part, not dealing with poor behaviour before it got too much. This area of umpiring would have, I think, been covered in the training course that I was due to go on at the end of March which was cancelled.

My approach to the whole game is that most of the time I am a spectator, and as much as possible should be left up to the players. That includes dismissals – if someone is out then I will only signal and give them out if the batsman doesn’t walk. That is, my default style is in the terminology of that video “avoiding”. In the error above, I avoided for too long. However, on the one second occasion for conflict in one of my games (I gave someone out caught when he was adamant that he wasn’t, and he argued) I went to “collaborating” by asking my colleague at square leg for his opinion. In the end my colleague (and it should be noted that he was a batsman temporarily standing at square leg) hadn’t had a clear enough view to say either way. If he had been sure I was wrong I would have changed the decision, but the dispute was settled with everyone being reasonably content by me telling the players to hold on while I consulted him, and then confirming my decision.

As a cricket umpire as opposed to an official in a more fast-moving sport I’m lucky that I will almost always have the time for collaboration with my umpiring colleague, but also I have the time to explain decisions to players. This means that I can be both assertive and co-operative, which I think is the ideal.