Pictured:- Umpire Don Oslear, with Terry Alderman of Australia bowling
It was the mid to late 1990s. I’d only been umpiring for eight seasons. I was appointed to stand at a nice match, London Schools Under 19s versus Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in Kent. Quite a good game to be appointed to.
Having parked my car and walked across the ground, the London Schools manager called me over “Hello, I’d like to introduce you to your colleague, Don Oslear….” After I recovered from the shock, I had to take in those words “Don Oslear…..former Test Match and First Class cricket umpire…”. You could have knocked me down with a feather.
Here I was, a virtual rookie, standing in a prestige game with a guy regarded very highly in umpiring circles. Remember the Ashes of 1981, and the stirring deeds of Ian Botham? Well Don stood in the infamous Edgbaston Test when Botham tore his way through the Australian batting line up in front of a fervent crowd.
The day of the game went wonderfully well. Once I’d returned to planet earth, Don Oslear treated me with kindness, dignity and respect. It was an honour to stand with him and learn so much from a man with vast knowledge and experience. He was very complimentary about me and was very supportive in any further progress I wanted to make.
Why am I paying this tribute to someone who has helped me? Because five days ago, Don Oslear passed away at his home in Cleethorpes, England, at the age of 89. Don was one of those rare breed’s of umpire at the top level – he never played first class cricket, which made his fame and quality as an umpire even more remarkable. I can name several others who have made it to the top level of county cricket without playing experience, namely Neil Bainton, Jeff Evans, Martin Bodenham, Nigel Plews, etc. All wonderful men who have served and continue to serve this great game of cricket.
So it was very sad to hear of Don Oslear’s passing today. A man of principle, of Yorkshire bluntness, of quality and integrity. I shall never forget that day some 20 years ago, a memory that will always stay with me.
RIP Don Oslear, born Grimsby, England, March 1929, died Cleethorpes, England, May 2018. Was a first class umpire from 1975-1993. Stood as a Test Match Umpire from 1980 to 1984. Stood in World Cup Semi Final in 1983 – England v India.