Holtwhite’s Trinibis vs Plastics XI, 2019-06-16

40/40 game. The captains agreed that Trinibis should bat first. Trinibis 132 all out. Plastics 100 all out.

Holtwhite’s is a multi-sport club with a modern clubhouse facing out onto their main cricket field, which was in use for a league game. Their second field shares a boundary with the first, and has a significant slope from one side to the other which has a significant impact, although somewhat oddly the slope is visually much more noticeable from the northern end. Scorers are well looked after, with a triangular hut positioned in a gap between the corners of the fields where scorers for both games can work, with excellent views, and there’s even an electronic scoreboard facing both pitches. The bar in the clubhouse is comfortable, and they provided an excellent tea.

Again I shared the umpiring responsibilities with various player-umpires throughout the day. Some were less confident than others and so I sometimes did both ends with them just umpiring at square leg. Some umpires don’t like doing this, as standing at square leg allows them to relax a bit, but I don’t mind. I reckon that if I can concentrate and drive a car all day then I should be able to concentrate and judge LBW appeals all day too. And as a cricket fan, behind the stumps is the best place from which to watch the game as you can see every little nuance.

My pre-match inspection found that one of the sight screens was inside the marked boundary so I moved the rope, and a few yards beyond the boundary in one corner was an alarmingly spiky and rusty piece of what I assume was groundsman’s equipment. Or possibly an Inquisition torture device. Either way, I wouldn’t have liked to have been a fielder legging it after a ball, running past the boundary into it. But I judged it to be far enough outside to be safe.

Pedometer data shows that my moving is still not up to snuff – there’s a drop-off through the day showing that I’m still not moving fast enough or far enough away from the bowler’s end to judge potential run-outs – but it’s an improvement from the previous match. And again I missed signalling some byes.

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Plastics XI vs Flying Ducksmen, 2019-05-05

35/35 game, Ducksmen won the toss and batted first. Ducksmen 160/9. Plastics 161/8 from 26.1 overs. Plastics win by 2 wickets.

My first time standing as an umpire for a full game! I was accompanied by various player-umpires throughout the day standing at the other end. The Plastics are the friends I referred to in the introduction who formed a proper cricket club.

The ground is just a large flat area in a public park, maintained by the borough council, with no real facilities, just some changing rooms a few hundred yards away. There is plenty of space outside the boundary in which picnickers were picnicking, children playing, and couples strolling. I was standing at the western end, the Albert Bridge end, so when I was behind the stumps I had a nice view of the power station peeking over the trees. No really, a nice view.

There was only one even slightly contentious moment in the game, when at square leg I gave one of the Plastics out, run out. He gave me an evil glare as he walked off and I could hear him grumbling all the way to the boundary, only to then hear one of his team-mates tell him “nah mate, you were a mile out”.

I was surprisingly knackered by the end of the day, standing around for several hours and occasionally going for a short walk out to square leg and back again is tiring if you’re not used to it and my feet were killing me by the end. And I can see from my pedometer data that I was consistently moving less as the game went on, so not getting away from the stumps so far or so quickly to be in a position to judge bowler’s end run outs. Something that I think will naturally improve over time, but I need to keep an eye on it. The significant error that I made in this game was that I often remembered too late that I should have signalled for byes or leg byes. Not something that will affect the result but it will annoy people who care about their statistics.

A few beers afterwards in the pub with both teams ended a fun day. I didn’t really know until now whether I’d actually enjoy umpiring, but I did. AAA++++ will do again, as they say on eBay.

Content policy

While I will sometimes talk about players and what they did, I will not generally mention them by name. This applies especially when I am being critical. I will try to follow the maxim that “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Anyone commenting, please do the same, and keep discussion within the boundaries of behaviour outlined in the preamble to the Laws of the game – the “Spirit of Cricket“.

I have no compunctions about deleting comments that I don’t think are appropriate, but welcome criticism, including criticism of my umpiring, provided that it is polite and constructive.

Introduction

I fell away from cricket when I left school, and even back then didn’t play much. But as I approached my 40s I came back into passing acquaintance with the game. First as an occasional village cricket spectator, then at the occasional county match, and after a couple of years of passive consumption I picked up a bat again and wafted it ineffectively at balls, mucking about in some of the most casual cricket you can imagine in the park with some friends. My passing acquaintance blossomed into affection and then love, and I wanted more. My ineffectively wafty batting and my worse bowling don’t really permit me to play seriously, so I decided to become an umpire.

In February 2019 I did the ECB’s level 1 umpiring course, and also that winter did some indoor umpiring for the Thornton Heath Cricket Club juniors. I also joined my local adult club, Beddington CC.

Meanwhile some of my casual cricket mates from the park had taken the game a bit more seriously and formed a side playing friendlies, so I approached them to see if they would let me get a few games under my belt. They did, and I didn’t mess up too awfully, so made myself available to Beddington. I’m now their regular umpire for the 4th XI, in a league where most matches are umpired by players, members of whichever team is batting at the time.

I’m going to use this blog to write a diary of how it goes, including my mistakes, very much inspired by the excellent book “What Was Wrong With That Then Umps?” by Matthew Stevenson. I will also comment on occasional matches at which I am just a spectator, and other cricket goings-on.