Streatham & Marlborough CC vs Beddington 4th XI, 2019-08-03

40/40 game. Beddington won the toss and chose to field. Streatham & Marlborough 187/6. Beddington 137 ao from 39.3 overs – scorecard

Streatham & Marlborough’s leafy ground is separated from the surrounding busy roads by trees, and around the upper field there are a couple of little picknicking spots where the trees have been cut back. The clubhouse looks rather run down as you approach it – they plan to build a new one this winter – but the side facing the main field is cheerier, and the building is hidden by a large willow tree when you’re on the second, lower field which we used. A church spire overlooks this second field. My pre-match saunter around the ground revealed a rather unusually shaped boundary. Almost all grounds have an entirely convex boundary, but here there is a small concavity where the boundary comes in to go around the nets that are built in one corner of the field.

This was the first of my league matches where the hosting club actually had markers for the 30 yard inner circle! One of the league regulations is that no more than five fielders may be outside this, but most clubs don’t mark it and captains and umpires are expected to just do their best to observe it. Unfortunately they weren’t put out at anything like 30 yards, so I paced off what was about the right distance and we moved them all before play started. They also provided a bowler’s marker at each end – hurrah! one less thing for me to stuff in my pockets!

Beddington were hampered by having a player missing for much of the first innings, as his car had broken down en route, but even had that not been the case I don’t think it would have changed the result.

As usual, I was the only umpire, being accompanied by player-umpires throughout, although in this game they were taking both square leg and bowler’s end duties. Unfortunately the game was not played in the best grace. I know that sledging is part of the game, but I felt that it was taken too far by one player in particular. The “spirit of cricket” in the preamble to the Laws admonishes players to be respectful of their opponents, and to create a positive atmosphere, neither of which was the case here. I found it bloody annoying but let it go for a while, but when a batsman decided to bring it to my attention I felt that I had to intervene. I quiet word with the player’s captain soon put a stop to it and the motormouth player instead switched to rather more respectful (and a lot funnier) banter with his own team mates, but sadly by then the atmosphere had been poisoned and no-one was particularly happy – there was no hanging about for shared post-match beers afterwards.

I’m not sure that I handled this correctly. I’m happy that I didn’t need to consult with the player who was deputised to be my colleague at the time, partly because I had no intention of using law 42 and making it all official with levels of offence and reports to the league and so on – I don’t want to be a pedantic priss. I am mindful of an interview I listened to with the rugby referee Nigel Owens, in which he said that what makes a great referee is communication and knowing when to let stuff go and not reach for the rule book. And also given that my colleague was a player from the same team that had prompted me to intervene I didn’t feel that any input of his into the decision would be seen to be fair. It’s important to be both fair and seen to be fair.

I think I did the right thing by intervening and by not intervening harder, but I’m not really sure if I should have intervened earlier. I’ve never played in a match where anyone felt sledging was getting inappropriate, I’ve never been to a match as a spectator where I’ve known anything like that was happening – it is of course hard to hear sledging from the boundary! – and I don’t know what guidelines other umpires use. I understand that this sort of thing is covered in some detail in the ECB’s Level 2 umpiring course, which I plan to take before next season.

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Spencer CC vs Beddington 4th XI, 2019-07-20

40/40 game reduced to 30 each. Spencer won the toss and fielded first. Beddington 120/8. Spencer 116/6 – scorecard

It had been raining overnight and the covers were on, but in the morning it cleared up and they were taken off. Unfortunately about an hour before play was scheduled to start more heavy rain came over, and the groundsmen were busy putting the covers on the club’s main pitch so the one we were going to use got a good soaking, leaving muddy holes just where the bowlers would land their feet. The start was delayed, and after just under an hour and a half of sunshine and wind, and judicious application of sawdust, the game eventually started, having been reduced to 30 overs per side.

Spencer’s second field is quite a trek from the club house, with an artificial turf football pitch in between, but does have its own separate changing rooms which mitigates that somewhat. There is a slight slope across the pitch from northeast to southwest.

I was the only umpire again, being accompanied by various player-umpires throughout the match, and this time I handled the bowler’s-end duties throughout, my colleagues just standing at square leg. It was a thrilling match, very close, which came down to Spencer needing a six from the last ball to win.

I was a bit irritated by one of the players. He asked me if the score board was correct, pointing out that they had just added more runs to it than had been scored in that over. A fair point for him to bring up. I checked my own score count (as well as the ball/over/wicket counter that every player knows about, I also carry a score counter, as the Laws say it is the umpires’ responsibility to keep the score) and told him that it was correct, they had just updated the score adding the runs from the last two overs of play instead of one, and that I would keep an eye on it. But at the end of the next over, when they again updated the score board correctly, he asked me again. Grrr.

Beddington 4th XI vs Sinjun Grammarians, 2018-07-13

40/40 game. Grammarians won the toss and batted first. Grammarians 56 ao off 20.2 overs. Beddington 57/2 from 12.2 – scorecard

I’m confident enough after four friendlies to stand in league games, so I’m now unleashed on the Surrey Championship, 3rd and 4th XIs division 4 East. At this level there are no neutral umpires appointed from a panel. Matches are generally umpired by players who are otherwise idle, so in practice the batting side provides umpires. Teams can have a dedicated umpire though, and I’m it.

Beddington’s ground has two sets of pitches. The main field is surrounded by trees on three sides and has an electronic scoreboard. the second one- on which the 4th team play – has tennis courts and a childrens’ play area on one side and trees on two other sides. Hidden behind the trees around the second field is the sewage treatment works, although most of the site is now derelict and unused so instead of a ghastly stench we get herons and other birds. The pavilion between the two fields has a decent bar with good cheap beer and provides a good tea.

Beddington’s bowling was just too good for Grammarians and I had little opportunity for controversial decisions – 8 were either caught or bowled, no-one reached 20, and half of their ten men (they were a man short for the game) got a duck. The innings was so short that we went straight into the second innings after a few minutes break instead of having tea. Beddington then knocked off their required runs in just over 10 overs, and even then tea wasn’t quite ready – we finished at about the same time that the 2nd XI who were playing on the other field reached their tea break.

I was pleased with my performance, as short as it was. I didn’t let the pressure of this being a game that actually mattered get to me. I do need to sort out my problem with not signalling byes though.