The umpiring journey: Not sure how I would have felt if he got out on 98!
Sussex Sports editor Mark Dunford is in his first year as a qualified umpire, after passing his ECBACO Level 1 course over the winter. On Saturday he umpired Henfield v Slinfold in Sussex Cricket League Division 4.
Sometimes when you are out in the middle it’s hard to make calls on boundaries.
If a player slides to stop ball, there’s no way of telling if he has touched the rope or not.
It’s all down to trust with the fielder.
On Saturday during Henfield v Slinfold, I had a situation like this.
Henfield’s impressive overseas Brighton Mugochi hit a ball so high it may have affected a plane’s flight path. I was watching the ball but also trying to watch a fielder getting underneath it so I had a fair idea of where it was about to land.
One of the fielders misjudged it and the ball plopped between him and another fielder.
Former first-class umpire Martin Bodenham is president of the Sussex Assocaition of Cricket Officals (SACO).
But it fell very close to the boundary and because of the slope at Henfield it was hard to tell if it was a four or six. So I looked at my colleague Keith Walder, who couldn’t tell either. So we checked with the fielders closest to the ball and they said four.
I signalled four to the scorers but the Henfield players on the sideline were convinced it was a six. I checked again with the fielder but they said it was a four so we stuck to our guns.
It didn’t really play on my mind until Zimbabwean Mugochi reached 98. I suddenly thought ‘if he gets out now, he will hate me if that was a six’.
Luckily he went on to get 125 not out from 91 balls including one of the biggest sixes I have ever seen and the decision had no real bearing on the game.
Otherwise it was a really good game and I only had any real decisions to make with the last two balls of the game - two lbw shouts which were both plum and very easy to call.
My colleague Keith on the other hand had three tough ones which he handled very well and got completely right.
One was where the batsman hit the ball into his foot and ballooned in the air for a catch.
It was clear it had not touched the floor. Unlucky for the batsman really but he had to walk.
There was also a catch by the wicketkeeper down the leg side which are never easy but there was bat on it.
And one where the fielding side were convinced the batsman gloved a leave to the keeper. But it came off his forearm and Keith called it exactly right.
So far I suppose I have been quite lucky as I have not had a huge amount of decisions to make at my end in the games I have done. But I am sure my time will come where everything happens at my end.
Meeting with the umpires
After the first day’s play at Arundel between Sussex and Northamptonshire, the West Sussex Association of Cricket Officials had to chance of a Q&A with the standing umpires Ben Debenham and Steve O’Shaughnessy.
Considering play did not finish until after 8pm it was very good of them to stay and chat to us.
It was interesting to hear their thoughts on the T20 format and it’s always nice to hear a Lancastrian (O’Shaughnessy) have a go at Yorkshiremen!
And what was very interesting was hearing who were some of the biggest moaners on the circuit.
One was very surprising!
Above is a little quiz for everyone on the Laws of Cricket. It’s not meant to be too hard but it will be interesting to see how you get on.
The joy of umpiring under-9s cricket is being able to watch my six-year-old Noah bowling in a match close up. And on Fathers Day he bowled three overs for just three runs. Wonderful.
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