Beddington 4th XI vs Banstead, 2021-05-08

45/45 game. Banstead won the toss and chose to field. Beddington 193/7, Banstead 196/6 from 43 overs – scorecard

There had been heavy overnight showers, and the forecast wasn’t great for the day’s play either. It was a little damp in the outfield but the covers had been on overnight and done their job leaving the pitch in perfect condition. It was green but firm and while the damp made the outfield a little slow to start with, a strong breeze soon dealt with that. Play started under heavy cloud, but it got lighter throughout the day and by the time we finished at about half past seven it was bright sunshine. I was joined by a small number of player-umpires throughout. All were happy to stand at the bowler’s end when it was their turn, for which I am grateful.

Beddington started their innings with steady, sensible batting, going at about 3 an over for the first third of the innings, at which point they were on 46/2. Their number 3 batsman went on to an undefeated 93. Unfortunately only five batsmen made double figures, and one of them was Mr Extras with 25. There were plenty of wides, not helped, I think, by the strong wind. I turned down a few appeals – as did my colleagues at the other end – few of which were utterly ludicrous. Banstead’s fielders felt quite strongly about one of them and grumbled a bit about an LBW decision which I didn’t give, as I thought it was close but not out. I didn’t think the muttering came anything close to the sort of level of disagreement that required me to take any action but their captain was apologetic afterwards.

After the tea break Banstead’s captain accompanied me as the other umpire for most of the innings, until with ten overs to go and five wickets down he needed to go and pad up. They started a little slower, but were fluctuating around about the required run rate most of the time, leading to an exciting close finish. Two terribly expensive overs from Beddington’s bowlers, going for 11 and 9, sealed the game though.

I was reasonable happy with my performance. I made only two really controversial decisions, one the LBW that I have already talked about, and one which was a bit of a howler. I didn’t give a no-ball for height bowled by Beddington. The batsman was quite put out, the bowler had apologised to him, but I hadn’t signalled no-ball. Brief discussion with the other umpire and Beddington’s fielders showed me that I had been Dead Wrong. However, I had already called “over” and mistakenly (I’ve now checked in the Laws!) thought that that made it too late to change my mind so there was nothing to be done about it. I can in fact change my mind until the next ball is bowled.

I also made an uncontroversial, but perhaps more serious, error. Before the game I didn’t check with the captains if either had any under-age players, and remind them of the fast bowling restrictions. As a result, one of Banstead’s youngsters exceeded his permitted overs in a spell.

Old Rutlishians vs Beddington 4th XI, 2020-09-05

40/40 game. Beddington won the toss and batted first. Beddington 98 ao from 35.2 overs. Old Rutlishians 99/5 from 31.2 overs – scorecard

This was the last match of the truncated league season and Beddington were duking it out with Sutton for bottom of the league, although there is no promotion and relegation this year. The conditions were excellent, with some cloud cover but intermittent sunshine, and a nice dry field. The wicket was rather green. My only concern about the ground came up during the second innings, when the bowler’s landing point at my end was getting rather eroded away, not helped by a batsman running his bat into it rather hard. Conditions didn’t deteriorate to the extent that I thought anything needed to be done, but if this had been a 50 over game – and had gone the distance – I think things would have been different. For the first time in a league match this season there was another umpire so I got a stand at square leg half the time, as the Cricket Gods intended. I’ve noted previously how, while I don’t mind being the only “full time” umpire and doing bowler’s end duties throughout, it is nice to have another umpire instead of a succession of otherwise unoccupied batsmen. That’s partly because you get more consistency, but also partly because you can chat with each other about the players without worrying about giving away information about what the bowlers are doing.

Beddington’s innings followed what has become a familiar pattern this season, with one or two batsmen making a decent start – the openers got 11 (off 16 balls, a good solid defensive showing before I gave him out LBW) and 36 – but then little to back them up. Only one got beyond 20, and only four made double figures. Scoring was extremely slow, at around 2 runs per over in the first ten overs. It then briefly went up to just over 5 an over for a short while as Old Ruts third and fourth bowlers came in, but that flurry didn’t last. From 66/3 in the 21st over, things collapsed to 98 all out from bowling that was very economical and a decent fielding performance.

Set a target of just 99 to win the sensible money would have been on Old Ruts to win quickly before everyone headed off for end of season drinks at their home clubs. But Beddington’s opening bowlers did an excellent job. Both opened with a maiden, and between them they gave away only 35 runs in their 16 overs, taking four wickets. If the team had kept going at that rate a Beddington win was on the cards, but it wasn’t to be. Several dropped catches meant that only one more wicket fell, and a settled partnership for the last ten overs played brought the score from a precarious 51/5 to the required 99 – with the last run coming, unfortunately, from a wide that was soooo wide that it was just impossible for me to be charitable about it and I had no choice but to give it, and be a meanie to the bowler.

I was happy with my performance, although I made two controversial decisions. The first was during Beddington’s innings when I gave the opening batsman out LBW. I took a while to make my decision, as it was close and I wanted to run it through in my head again, but I decided that the ball was going to just barely hit leg stump. Definitely an “umpire’s call” decision if there was a TV review! As I was raising my arm to signal that the batsman was out one of the fielders said “going down leg”, but no, I was sure. I was in a better position to see it than he was. The batsman was understandably miffed, and afterwards told me that if it was such a close decision I should have given him the benefit of the doubt. That, however, is not something that appears in the laws. I should give him out if I am sure that he is out. And I was sure. I was sure that he was only just out. The “benefit of the doubt” confusion comes from, if an umpire does have some doubt about a decision then he should err towards not making a decision – that is, not signalling out, or no ball, or wide, or anything else. But provided that I’m sure, I can be sure that the ball would have just tickled the stump, or sure that a bowler overstepped his mark by the smallest of margins. My other controversial decision was the first of two wides (the other being clearly wide to all concerned) I gave against one of Beddington’s bowlers. Again, it was a close decision – I suppose all contentious decisions will be – but I was sure, so gave it.

Finally, I added another no-ball to my collection! There are a bazillion reasons for a no-ball, the most common being the bowler being too far forward, and the two types of too high delivery. I’ve given those three numerous times. I’ve also given the rather rare no-ball for a ball bouncing twice before reaching the crease. In this game one of the Old Ruts bowlers had a delivery style where he kicked his rear foot up and to the side as he delivered the ball, usually missing the stumps by a few inches, occasionally straying much closer – and once, he kicked a bail off.

Beddington 4th XI vs Old Wimbledonians, 2020-08-29

40/40 game reduced to 35/35. Beddington won the toss and fielded first. Old Wimbledonians 143/4. Beddington 116ao from 33.3 overs – scorecard

The soggy Pavilion end, after the game was finished

Overnight rain left the outfield soaking, so much so that just standing on it would squeeze water out around your shoes in some places. The pitch had been covered, but the covers seem to have come loose in the high winds and so it was also wet around the wickets at both ends and in a patch in the middle. The covers were just coming off as I arrived and I went straight out to see how things were. Conditions were atrocious. Just putting your foot down – in ordinary shoes, not spikes – left a clear imprint next to the wicket where the bowlers would be landing, and without much effort I could push my finger into the ground. Start to put any force on the ground like the bowlers would and it would cut up horribly, to the extent that I thought it would be dangerously unsound footing. There was a strong breeze which would help things to dry out, but I wasn’t optimistic. A few minutes before the scheduled start at 1pm I did another pitch inspection and while things had improved they hadn’t improved enough in my opinion, and so despite much complaint from one of Beddington’s bowlers I told the captains we would delay the start and I would have another look in half an hour. The complaining bowler’s position was that if he was happy to bowl he should be allowed to. But that’s not how it works. In any case, the rest of the field, including parts of the pitch, was so wet that even if we had started on time it wouldn’t have been a very good game. Finally, another half hour later, I did a third inspection and deemed that the breeze had helped the ground firm up enough that we could get the game on. The late start reduced the game from 40 overs a side to 35.

With the help of plenty of sawdust on the bowlers’ landing spots the ground held up pretty well, but even so it was a difficult batting pitch, as the wetter spots were dead and so the ball often kept unexpectedly low. Old Wimbledonians’ first wicket fell for just three runs, and after the first ten overs the score was just ten. But after that point Wimbledonians got into their stride and started scoring more freely. The second wicket didn’t fall until the 25th over, with the score on 84, for a fairly respectable three and a bit per over, and after that they really cracked on, going at nigh on 6 an over for the rest of their innings, punishing the part-time bowlers hard. Their opening batsman carried his bat, making 62. I thought Beddington’s performance in the field was a lot better than last week, and that the target of 144 was not out of reach, especially as conditions for the batsman were improving as things dried out.

Beddington’s innings got off to a cracking start. It took Wimbledonians eight overs to score eight runs, it took Beddington’s opening batsman just one over. But unfortunately wickets fell too quickly to some good bowling – six men were out bowled – and only three made it past 20 runs, with six making less than 10. There was one comedy dismissal, where the non-striker had left the crease but then there was no run. He just stood there, several feet out of his ground. The ball went to a fielder, who chucked it back to the bowler, and I had the easiest run-out decision ever. I really didn’t want to give it, because it was such a silly way to get out and he had plenty of time to walk back to safety, but he didn’t, so I had no choice. Later, when Beddington’s last two men were batting, Wimbledonians had another opportunity for an easy run-out as the two batsmen had run into each other and were lying on the ground laughing at themselves. I thought it was very sporting that they didn’t take the wicket. Bravo!

I was happy with my performance. I do wonder if I did the right thing by delaying the start – whether conditions were actually dangerous – but aside from that I’m confident that I got everything else right. There were surprisingly few silly appeals in this game, which was good. Another sign, like Wimbledonians’ generously not taking that wicket after the pratfall, that the game was played in the spirit it ought to be.

Beddington 4th XI vs Dulwich, 2020-08-22

40/40 game. Beddington won the toss and fielded first. Dulwich 207/7. Beddington 110/9 – scorecard

It was a very windy day, played initially under cloudy skies which brightened up a bit later in the afternoon. There were a few spots of rain, one of which suddenly got heavier from one ball to the next and I decided to take the players off after that ball – which had, unfortunately seen a batsman dismissed. But before we’d even made it as far as the boundary the rain stopped and so we went straight back to it. A rain stoppage not resulting in any time lost – that’s probably the most unusual thing I’ll see this season. That had been rain earlier in the week but while there was a bit of green on the pitch it was baked hard. I took bowler’s end duties throughout. One of the Dulwich bowlers complained at the start of his spell that his landing spot had been too broken up during the previous innings, but it looked fine to me, the ground was solid. He opted to consistently land slightly to the right of it (closer to the wicket), but he seemed to perform well and if his performance was degraded by landing a couple of inches to the right of his normal spot then I’d love to see him at his best! His new landing spot put him very close to hitting the protected area during his follow through, and he may well have actually done so a few times, but it wasn’t to any significant extent (he didn’t block my view of the batsman and wicket at the other end) and if I police that rigorously I can’t look for LBWs, so I let it go.

Dulwich’s innings got off to a rocky start, losing the first two wickets for just eleven runs and the third for just fourteen more, due to a combination of excellent bowling and quick fielding. Unfortunately once the two opening bowlers finished their spells they couldn’t hold it together. Between them those two allowed just 44 runs from the first 16 overs, an average of less than 3 per over between them. The third wicket went with 70 runs on the board and the fourth with 147 as the rest of Beddington’s bowlers all went for over 5 an over, at least some of which was because of consistent fielding mishaps.

Beddington’s innings didn’t start well, with the first wicket falling in the first over – a wicket maiden. I’d turned down an LBW appeal the previous ball – if my memory of what happened 24 hours ago is correct I’d only turned it down because there was just a leeeetle bit of doubt in my mind about whether the ball would have hit the stumps. But one ball later there was no doubt. The next wicket didn’t fall until the 11th over, but where you would normally expect the second wicket partnership to score at a nice steady rate these two just couldn’t. There were two more maiden overs before the second wicket fell for just 21 runs scored. Even so, that slow scoring mirrored Dulwich’s in their innings. Dulwich scored 44 from the first 16 overs, Beddington scored 45. But Dulwich’s subsequent bowlers allowed far fewer runs than Beddington’s had, helped by enthusiastic fielding. They were especially good at chasing balls down (and hence saving runs) which would, when Beddington was fielding, have gone for four. Beddington’s last two batsmen put on 36 runs between them, but by then it was far, far too late.

I was much happier with my performance today, and I think I made only one mistake. Early on in Beddington’s innings I wasn’t sure if one of their batsman was quite making his ground before turning round for a second run, so I made sure to keep an eye on him. It wasn’t long before I spotted a short run. Only by an inch or so, but an inch out is an inch out, so I signalled “short run”. Or rather, I thought I signalled short run. I actually signalled “5 penalty runs to the fielding side”. There was no acknowledgement from the scorers, who were no doubt confused as there was no reason for penalty runs, so I yelled “one short” at them, thinking that they either couldn’t see the signal or didn’t understand such a rare signal. We got the right result in the end, but I need to revise my lesser-used signals!

Malden Wanderers vs Beddington 4th XI, 2020-08-15

40/40 game reduced to 30/30. Beddington won the toss and fielded first. Malden 190/5. Beddington 80 from 20 overs – scorecard

Thankfully it wasn’t as desperately hot as it had been for the past week (34º C and 75% humidity is inhuman!) but it was still warm and humid. Recent rain had left everything bright green, even a little bit of green on the pitch. It had also left the ground a bit soft and towards the end I was getting concerned that it was turning muddy and slippery where the bowlers’ feet were landing but thankfully it only deteriorated so far. In that respect I’m glad we only played 50 overs instead of the scheduled 80. There was little bounce in the pitch. We were on Malden’s second field, which is quite small. It shares a boundary with their main field, something that I am not keen on, as no-one likes getting an unexpected bonk on their bonce from the game next door when fielding. I took the bowler’s end throughout. The weather forecast was for rain later in the afternoon, and depending on which forecast you believed it would be either a few light showers or a torrential downpour that would leave the surface unplayable, so the captains and I agreed beforehand to reduce the game to 30 overs a side to increase the chances of getting a result. As it happened the rain held off and we would have been able to go the full length anyway with perhaps just a little drizzle. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Aside from my minor grumbles above about the field, I like the Malden club. They were very friendly and most importantly they have a decent beer selection.

Malden’s batting was dominated by a young man who carried his bat, and was desperately unlucky to not make his century when their innings finished with him on 99 not out. Beddington were terribly hampered by some injuries while fielding. One young player had to retire from the game very early – I think it was in the second over – when he did himself a mischief while chasing a ball to the boundary. They were down to fielding with ten men for a couple of overs while one of the accompanying parents changed into his whites to come on as a substitute fielder. Then after the fifth over, another young player, who had come into the game with a knee injury but told everyone he could play, had to be carried from the field. So again, down to ten fielders temporarily while another substitute got kitted up. Add to all those woes the fact that Malden’s side batted well and Beddington’s fielding was leaky and they dropped a couple of catches.

Beddington’s innings started with Malden bowling two wicket-maidens, both of the openers getting out for nowt. One of those was down to a third injury. Another of Beddington’s youngsters got hit on his sternum by one of the few balls that bounced. Very painful and we paused for a couple of minutes so he could get his breath back. But whether it was because he had lost his confidence or because of the painful bruise, he was out for a duck a couple of balls later. I hope he returns to form for the remaining games of the season as he is usually a good batsman, great fun to watch. Only three of Beddington’s ten batsmen (the player with the knee injury from the first innings came out to bat but did not score) got any runs, those runs coming from 16 fours and 9 singles, as Malden did an excellent job in the field. Malden’s innings by comparison had been far more balanced with 5 sixes, 21 fours, 11 twos and 32 singles.

I am not happy with my own performance. My head wasn’t in the game as we began and I know that not only did I do my old trick of forgetting to signal byes, I even forgot to signal some early boundaries despite entering them on my run counter. Thankfully the scorer put them all in the book! I had to give two batsmen out when they didn’t walk. One was LBW, he was very cross with me but the ball landed on his toes dead in front of middle stump and would have gone on to hit it about a third of the way up. The other was a player caught behind, off the tiniest of edges. I clearly heard it, but he looked disbelieving at me before heading off. I turned down a few LBW appeals, one of which was perhaps a bit contentious. It was certainly close but I couldn’t be sure the ball was going to hit the wicket so couldn’t give it. One for the TV umpire when that becomes available at this level! The rest of the dismissals needed no input from me as the batsmen walked. I did get irritated at one of the player-umpires who was playing with his phone in between balls and even at one point got so engrossed in it that he didn’t change ends for a new over until I yelled at him. Bad. Naughty. I shall Have Words the next time he accompanies me, although I should really have had a quiet word with him in between overs, so bad naughty me as well.

Finally, I had an Umpire Groupie! One of my father’s cousins lives within spitting distance of the club so I told him there was a game on and invited him and his wife to come and watch. Afterwards I went to their house for dinner and a refreshing litre of tea, where I moaned lots about how much my feet hurt and how hard it was to stand up again after finally sitting down.

Beddington 4th XI vs Sutton, 2020-08-01

40/40 game. Beddington won the toss and fielded first. Sutton 150/8. Beddington 129 from 33 overs – scorecard

My third game of the season, and the first to be completed, was played under changing, hot conditions. I was the only umpire, being accompanied by glamourous assistants who took square leg duties while I was at the bowler’s end throughout. It started with bright sunshine getting cloudier throughout, but the rain, such as it was, just a few light drops, held off until the Lager Innings. The outfield was scorched dry, with the ball running away fast, but the square had been watered. The strip we were using had a tinge of green to it, but was baked hard.

Early on in their innings Sutton were scoring fast, at one point looking like they might make 200, but after a high-scoring opening, Beddington’s bowlers pegged them back. It turns out that the young lad who I erroneously gave out last week can also bowl, getting 3 wickets for 10 runs conceded from his 4 overs.

Beddington’s innings started a bit wobbly, with the first two wickets falling with just 11 runs scored, but a 71 run partnership for the third wicket seemed to get things back on track with some fine batting that I was very much enjoying watching (being the umpire really does give you the best seat in the house) and I was rather annoyed when they both got out in quick succession, and the rest of the wickets fell for little profit. Aside from that one good partnership the highest score was eight. Sutton had a boy from their under-13s side who finished off most of the tail. His bowling was wild, but in his 4 overs bowled he got 4 wickets for 13 runs conceded. His feet were all over the place, often landing a long way back from the crease, and he gave away a lot of extras, but when he landed right he got wickets – results count for more than style.

After last week I had decided I was too lenient regarding wides, so was quite a bit stricter today. There were still some grumbles from batsmen for me not giving them, but that was their fault for moving towards what would have been a wide ball as I noted last week.

After my LBW mistake of last week I wonder if I perhaps veered too far in the opposite direction. I only gave two (one per team) despite many appeals. A few of those appeals were of course the usual ridiculousness were a fielder at point screams for a wicket, and a couple had the whole team go up including those who had a good view of what happened. There were a couple I only turned down because I couldn’t be sure that the ball hadn’t hit the bat – they were otherwise dead straight deliveries, but most I turned down either because I thought they were missing the stumps or had not hit the batsman in line with the stumps. Without the benefit of a suite of cameras, microphones and computers I just can’t tell if I’m getting it right or not, the best I can do is aim to be consistent, and I think I was. At some point I may sign up for a couple of hours with the techno-wizardry at the MCC indoor academy. When I do I am prepared to be terribly embarrassed!

Spencer CC vs Beddington 4th XI, 2020-07-25

40/40 game. Spencer won the toss and fielded first. Beddington 128/9 from 38.3 overs when the match was abandoned due to rain – scorecard

My previous match at this ground was almost exactly a year ago. That was rainy too, with the match starting late and being reduced to 30 overs a side. This time we started on time but the forecast was never good. The last several overs of the first innings were played in persistent drizzle, we eventually came off when it turned heavier, and reached the shelter of the pavilion as the heavens opened. The rain didn’t take long to return to drizzle but by that point the outfield was drenched, and I was concerned about the new ball in those conditions if we’d started the second innings. As it was, the captains agreed between them to abandon the match as it looked highly unlikely that we’d be able to restart in time for Spencer to get the required minimum 20 overs to bat.

I think I made one big mistake, giving one of Beddington’s openers (a young lad who is a very good batsman) out LBW. The ball was certainly going on to hit the stumps, but he was adamant that he had got an edge with the bat, as was his fellow opener at the non-striker’s end. But I didn’t hear it, so I gave him out. He objected strongly but his colleague told him to clear off and respect the umpire. From what I overheard from some fielders later, I shouldn’t have given him out as he did get an edge on it. I apologised to him later when we left the field.

The batsmen were also, during one particular bowler’s spell, surprised that I wasn’t giving wides. Several of his balls were marginal calls and if they’d been any wider I would have given them. The one that he did get wide enough to call, I didn’t because the batsman had moved towards it (law 22.4.1).

And I made one small mistake – I forgot about the new regulation for this season that the ball must be cleaned every six overs. I was reminded of this just before the drinks break at 20 overs, so for the second half of the innings I took some wipes out with me and did that.

Wallington vs Beddington 4th XI, 2019-09-07

40/40 game. Beddington won the toss and chose to field. Wallington 117/9. Beddington 118/7 from 30.4 overs – scorecard

This was the last league game of my first season umpiring, and again I took the bowler’s end duties throughout. The field was noticeably longer than it was wide, making it noticeably harder than normal to get boundaries from straight drives and nicks behind, and easier to get boundaries off to the sides. So much easier that Wallington have erected very high fences along those boundaries in an attempt to lose fewer balls when they get tonked for six. In this game, however, there were only two sixes, one of which ended up in a neighbour’s back garden anyway. There is a slight slope from one side to the other, but I didn’t notice it have much effect. The pitch was a bit concave, with the wickets standing on slight humps at the ends.

Going into the match, Wallington were already relegated and Beddington already promoted, although in second place and a win would give them a chance of topping the division (results elsewhere ended up preventing this). Despite there not being much to play for I felt that both teams still gave their all. After all, if you’re playing at this level you’re primarily playing because it’s fun, and this was the last opportunity for league fun.

Wallington got off to a slow start, and something like a quarter of the overs Beddington bowled before the drinks break were maidens. And unfortunately they never really sped up. All five of Beddington’s main bowlers had an excellent economy rate under 3 an over, some of them being closer to 2 an over. Even the one part-time bowler went for less than 4 an over. An unusually high proportion of Wallington’s batsmen were out bowled or LBW. I gave three out LBW, which would normally make me wonder if I’d been a bit trigger-happy, but in this case I’m comfortable that I wasn’t.

After their innings Wallington provided a notably good tea.

Beddington’s innings got off to a much faster start. A mid-innings wobble, losing four wickets for just 17 runs, gave Wallington a small chance, but a good all-rounder performance and management of who was on strike in the tail ended up giving Beddington a comfortable victory.

I got to use a very unusual umpiring signal in this match! Although I didn’t actually see it happen due to the bowler standing in the way, there was a point in the Wallington innings where the fielders all told me that the keeper had fumbled a catch and the ball had hit his helmet that was lying on the ground behind the stumps. Five penalty runs to the batting side! Although I had to be told to give it I don’t really count this as an error on my part as my view was blocked.

However, regular readers will know that I have written about one of my umpiring errors in every entry in this journal so far. And I’m afraid that this time it was an absolutely colossal howler. I gave a no-ball for having more than two fielders behind leg. Unfortunately I had gone left/right colour-blind – the batsman was left-handed so his stance was reversed from normal, and the three fielders were actually behind the off-side. Oops. Oh so very oops. Profuse apologies, much blushing, a reversed decision, and when I joined the players back in the Beddington club-house for post-match beers some well-deserved taking the piss. But after making such a ridiculous mistake I’m very sure that I’ll never make that one again. It’s going to be a much easier mistake to fix than, for example, my earlier repeated forgetting to give byes. And I think that the lesson I’ve learned from it about how important it is to pay attention to the batsman before the ball is delivered, as well as to the delivery and what the batsman consequently does, will help me with judging LBWs. I’ve mentioned earlier about an error I made giving a left-handed batsman out LBW, but I think going into “concentration mode” a little bit earlier on each ball will also improve the quality of my LBW decisions over all.

Beddington 4th XI vs Reigate Priory, 2019-08-31

40/40 game. Beddington won the toss and chose to field. Reigate Priory 145/8. Beddington 140/9 – scorecard

As we come to the end of the season and the sun sets a bit earlier, start times are moved forward an hour. After the last two weekends of having an umpire colleague it was back to player-umpires today, and so I took bowler’s end duties throughout, with them standing at square leg.

The forecast said that there was a very small – just 1% – chance of a bit of drizzle later in the afternoon, but to start with it was a lovely sunny day with just a few white clouds in a bright blue sky. Reigate’s innings looked at first like it would be alarmingly short, with the first five wickets falling for just 51 runs. Their captain, however, coming in at number 6, put in a good performance, scoring half his team’s runs and steadying the ship.

As the day wore on it became cloudier and the wind got up. About a third of the way into Beddington’s innings I felt a few rain drops. “That would be that 1% chance of drizzle then”, I thought, and it shortly went away. But the clouds built up and it got darker, and the second half of Beddington’s innings was played in intermittent showers. Beddington got off to a much better start in their innings, but had their own little collapse and, chasing a target of 146, they were exactly half way – half way with 73 runs, half way with 5 wickets gone, and half way with 20 overs remaining – at the tea break. That would normally be a recipe for a comfortable win for Reigate. But after the 8th wicket fell for 109 the tailenders did sterling work. With three overs to go they needed 27, and despite me giving an LBW early in that over, they made the required run rate, and only needed 9 from the last over. A change of bowler for that last over, however, restricted Beddington and they ended up six runs short of victory.

I considered taking the players off because of the rain, and by a happy coincidence I had read up on the ECB’s guidance notes for umpires after recent – and unwarranted –press criticism of Aleem Dar’s decision making around weather stopping play in the Ireland test match. I briefly discussed the situation with my colleague during the first significant shower. His opinion was “they’re happy to continue so let’s carry on” which is contrary to the guidance. That makes it clear that the umpires shouldn’t consider whether the players want to continue. I did not press the issue and just asked him to let me know if his opinion changed, as when there is only one umpire I should listen to his opinion but the responsibility is mine, and mine alone. At no point, however, did I think that the ground was becoming dangerously slippery, either off the pitch, or on the bowler’s run-up or landing areas, or in front of the wicket. I checked as I was walking from end to end. The other safety issue is whether the bowler can properly grip the ball and control his delivery. I carry a small towel for this reason – I would never have considered doing this if I hadn’t gone on the course back in February though at which it was mentioned. The final thing to consider was whether the rain was adversely affecting the ball so as to be unfair to the fielding side. I did not believe it was seriously affected, given that the rain didn’t really start until the second half of the innings and the shine had already been taken off. In any case, this is a matter where we should pay attention to any requests from the players to change the ball so no action is necessary unless they ask for it.

I don’t think I made any controversial decisions, but I did make one error. One of the Beddington batsmen edged a ball down leg side. The wicket keeper hared off after it, stopped the ball and hurled it back. I was unsure whether it had reached the boundary, which was marked with a white line and not a rope, and seeing no signal from the fielder (I had at earlier points in the match) I just assumed it hadn’t and that just the one that the batsmen had run should count. The scorer, however, had been nearby and clearly seen it cross the boundary, so despite my not signalling it he had noted down a four. I realised what had happened when the score board was updated at the end of the over to show three more than I expected, and I let it go. In retrospect I should have asked the fielder once the ball was dead instead of just assuming that no signal from him meant no boundary. Compounding the error, I had already asked a batsman earlier in the innings if he had edged a ball or if it had gone off his pad for leg byes when I wasn’t sure! The lesson for this match is “if in doubt, ask”. I may not have a third umpire watching on TV, but I can at least ask players and scorers for help.

Sanderstead vs Beddington 4th XI, 2019-08-17

40/40 game. Beddington won the toss and chose to field. Sanderstead 34 ao from 28.3 overs. Beddington 35/0 from 8.4 – scorecard

For the first time I had an umpiring colleague, not just players standing in when not otherwise engaged. When standing with a player-umpire I’ve felt constrained in what I can say to him in breaks in play – don’t want to give away information on what the bowlers are doing, for example, and it was nice to not have that.

Sanderstead only have one field of their own, which was in use by their 1st XI, so our match was a short walk away in the public recreation ground. It’s still a pleasant environment though, with its own changing rooms. The ground slopes from one side to the other but the square is level, so there’s a noticeable drop-off when standing at square leg. If I was shorter I might have considered standing on the wrong side to get a better view of the crease. There had been light rain during the night, and no covers, so as well as the outfield being a bit damp and slow, the wicket itself was a bit soft. I was concerned about the bowlers’ footholds, but decided they were OK and we could go ahead. I kept an eye on them, with an eye towards stopping to let them dry out a bit if they needed it, but the ground held up.

Sanderstead struggled to score, although there was a moment after the drinks break when two of their middle order batsman scored 5 off an over – a great improvement over the 1-ish they were going at before then – and I thought they might heroically rescue the situation as England’s middle order have been wont to do in recent years, but it wasn’t to be. There was another brief flurry of excitement when two very young players were in for the last wicket, they did an excellent job of communicating with each other. I found out afterwards that one of them plays for the county girls’ side in her age group, so presumably that’s something they coach.

With Beddington getting Sanderstead all out so quickly we just had a short turnaround before Beddington went in to bat, on the grounds that tea wouldn’t have been ready anyway. My colleague and I did briefly discuss the league timing regulations, but decided that Law 43, “Use Common Sense” applied so we didn’t bother looking them up. I expected that the match would be over before the normally scheduled tea break anyway, and most importantly both sides were happy to get straight back out there.

As I expected, Sanderstead’s two young tail-enders opened the bowling. I thought that the girl I talked about earlier did an excellent job. She didn’t get any wickets, but only went for 4 an over against a side that bats well, and she had some decent variations.

As for my own performance – I gave two controversial decisions. I denied an appeal for caught behind off an edge, because I didn’t hear anything as it went through. The bowler was cross with me and discussed it afterwards, and I explained my decision. I’m not umpiring next weekend so he’s got time to forgive me before we meet again! The second was that I gave a batsman out caught. He was grumpy about it, as batsmen usually are if they haven’t just walked. I was convinced that it had gone straight to the fielder, he thought he’d hit it down into the ground first, and when I talked about it with my colleague afterwards he wasn’t sure, so if I had consulted him at the time I would have stuck with my decision anyway.

I made two out and out errors. The biggest was in adjudicating wides. I gave two of them in one of the Beddington bowlers’ first over, and he was clearly peeved and thought I was being harsh and should have just warned him after the first one. When I gave them I thought they were only just wide, but only just is still wide. I might warn a bowler if he’s creeping towards a front-foot no ball, but I’ll still call a no-ball when I see one, just like I’ll call a wide when I see one. But I let that get to me, and I gave a bit more leeway in later overs. This means that my performance was inconsistent, and I think in umpiring consistency, especially in very close decisions like those, is just as important as correctness. There was also one ball when I was standing at square leg when I thought it had gone through over waist height without pitching and so should have been a no-ball. My colleague at the bowler’s end didn’t call it, and while it was his call I think I should have been more assertive in bringing it to his attention.

Thankfully my errors had no impact on the result.