Summer 1986 I think it was. It was a games lesson at school, and the teacher decided it was time to have some cricket practice. But the only thing was, I was pretty rubbish at playing the game. I could hit a ball, but catching and bowling were totally out of my league.
I then mused “I’ve seen Dickie Bird umpiring cricket on the TV….I wouldn’t mind having a go”….and so my first sojourn into cricket umpiring was there. I stood behind a set of plastic stumps and tried to do a few signals etc….and I seemed to get a bit of a taste for it.
I was 13 years old at the time. The following year, I did a trial match at my new school. If my first decision was anything to go by, then I may as well have given up. It was an absolute shocker, and according to the batsman, cost him a place on the team. Ooops! A lot still to learn.
In truth, I muddled by. My lack of experience, my youth, my nervousness and general incompetence in those days convinced a lot of players that I was not up to the job. And they would have been right. I felt like a fish out of water.
But, despite a lot of early traumas and problems, I kept going. And it’s important to remind myself of those days when I step out onto the field to umpire now. A lot of water has passed under the bridge in 32 years and I like to think I’ve improved in that time!! A lot of experience, good and bad, has been banked and I’ve come a fair way since that day in the school playground. My signals and I hope, my decisions and my match control have improved. It’s also important to enjoy it too. Last Sunday was a case in point. So vital to go through all the heartache to get moments like the thrilling finish that I was in the middle of.
There have been other great moments of course. I have been very lucky. My lack of playing experience has counted against me at times, but when you can have the best seat in the house, in all weathers (especially this year), what more can one ask for? I’ve met and shall go on meeting so many wonderful people who play the best game in the world. So many memories and many more still to lock away. My aim is to just enjoy it and get through to September, when the season ends.
Looking forward to the next match already….