RAISING THE FINGER! A cricketing blog from an umpire’s point of view:
In his first season as a local league cricket umpire, Barnsley man Ian Parker gives his humorous take on his time in the middle……
My colleague for the Premier Section game we were covering picked me up at 1pm.
We left in the middle of a downpour of epic proportions. Neither of us gave us a ‘cricketers in a swamp’ chance of any play!
We arrived at the ground, which is at the top of the bumpiest road in the world (well, the bumpiest in Nortonthorpe anyway), to the sight of blue sky and the sunshine breaking through the clouds around the Emley Moor Mast, which was looking like a leg stump standing alone after the off and middle had been destroyed by a demon quick bowler…..!
Play started 15 minutes late, but at least play started!
My colleague and I deducted the customary two overs for every six minutes lost, so it was 43 instead of 45 overs.
We informed both skippers and the visiting team lost the toss and were put into bat. Midway through the innings, a young batsman smashed a mighty six straight into the bracken and bushes next to a white tower displaying NCC on it. It also had a door. What lived in there I thought? Where might it lead? More later……..
As umpires we have to keep the game flowing as much as possible. So I took the spare ball out of my pocket and called my colleague and the players who were looking for the ball to come back and informed them we’d restart using the spare ball.
As is custom the batting side then goes and looks for the ball. Anyway I showed the batsmen the spare ball and threw the ball to the bowler. I checked to see if the batsman was ready. He was, I turned to check the bowler was ready. He, also was ready. And play restarted.
The batsman then delivered a drive to the fielder at a sort of a wide mid-off. The ball was certainly travelling at a fair old lick, as the middle of the bat had made perfect contact with the spare cherry. The height of the ball was enough to make the fielder dive low to his right. The ball smashed into the fielder’s kneecap before his hands got there. A few theatrical roles and screams followed. He then stood up and gave me a verbal assault as to how he wasn’t ready. My colleague at square leg wasn’t even looking and the game shouldn’t have restarted he claimed.
I chuckled to myself and told the batsman at the non-striker’s end “there wouldn’t have been any fuss if he’d caught it”. The batsman duly agreed. For the record, my colleague did informe me later he wasn’t looking. But he said that was his fault as he was looking at where the ball had gone!
I was then involved in another spot of controversy.
A right arm over bowler pitched the ball wide of off stump to a right-handed batsman. The batsman threw his bat at the ball, which clipped the edge of the bat nearly just below halfway. I looked for the catch, which was duly taken. I stretched my right arm out to move my clicker on for the next ball and next wicket. No drama I thought. The batsman will be walking off by now. I looked up and the batsman is still stood in his striker’s position, arms out stretched shouting “YOU CALLED WIDE UMPIRE!”
The reply from me was swift: “No, I haven’t.”
The batsman, still wrongly convinced that I had signalled wide, waited and waited. He wasn’t walking. He said again: “YOU CALLED WIDE UMPIRE.” to which my colleague and a few players responded: “No, he didn’t.” It felt like a pantomime!
Eventually off the batsman stalked. Clearly disgruntled with the world and me in particular. And still claiming I’d signalled wide ball, to which I replied: “Well you hit it so it can’t have been that wide can it?”
But then the dark clouds rolled overhead and Emley Moor mast was suddenly covered by a blanket of rain, not to mention the forks of lightning being as frequent as the boundaries being struck on the pitch.
It was inevitable that the rain and bad light would draw a premature halt to the game.
But we did manage to get our teas, even if they were early!
We completed the first innings, 107 all out off 41.5 overs. But with the rain pelting down outside, my colleague and I took one long, hard look through the gloom at the puddles on the square and said ‘that’s it lads’.
And by 6pm we were having a pint with the home team!
The home skipper came up to us and complimented us on our umpiring.
And off home we went. Still in love with the game of cricket……