Footy, all the rage at the moment, is a game that has failed in its primary aim that was to keep cricketers fit during the winter. All cricket players acknowledge that no park cricketer ever ‘gets fit’. Running laps, doing push ups or going to a gym is foreign territory to a cricketer. Football is a failure, even if the Doggies win.
Therefore let’s forget about the Doggies and turn our minds to the noble game of cricket, and more specifically cricket umpiring. The role of an umpire in cricket is completely different to a footy umpire and this is best illustrated by the ‘appeal’, which actually has its own Law (27).
In footy and most other sports, the umpires are totalitarian dictators, who prowl around the play, inflicting instant judgement on the players. In a cricket match the captains and players are supposed to decide everything themselves, and only when they cannot come to a decision, do they appeal to the umpires.
I’ve been a park cricket umpire in the Mercantile Cricket Association for over ten years. I played in the MCA before that, starting in about 1983. It’s a great place to play your cricket as the grounds are simply lovely and the atmosphere of the games has always been, well they always been pleasant; competitive, but with an underlying friendliness that is certainly absent in international cricket.
We have a full list of umpires!!! This means that in our ninth, our lowest grade, we usually have two umpires in all games. No other association below Premier Cricket anywhere in Australia, or the world for that matter, can come anywhere close to this.
I was a hopeless cricketer, playing without any distinction in the lower grades of the Merks. But no matter because cricket clubs have always celebrated the ‘duffer’ and I know I will come across a few this year in my beloved Merks: blokes who always turn up, pay their subs early, roll the pitch and serve behind the bar but can’t make a run.
I do have a full set of Wisden, Cricket, A Weekly Record of the Game and a complete run of The Cricketer. Any cricket historian will recognise a fellow collector and historian of the game. This knowledge helps enormously in umpiring as it allows one to see what is important in this very unusual contest that we call cricket.
So now that I do not have my beloved Fitzroy to write about I have decided to do a weekly cricket blog from somewhere out on Fawkner Park. Stand by for some whinging and moaning from a bloke in a white coat (figuratively speaking as we now wear tight clinging stuff that adds inches to your waist line). When these tight fitting, stretchy uniforms first came in I overheard the players in the A Grade Grand Final saying the two umpires reminded them of the Telly Tubbies. Sad but true I thought
I am aware that I will ruffle a few feathers with this blog but I don’t care that much. I mean, I love giving captains out LBW which all park umpires avoid like the plague as the captains write reports on you ( they are usually, but not always, a waste of space). My greatest season I got nine captains LBW and gave one out Obstructing the Field. Sadly the captains have obviously heard about me and in the last few seasons have strenuously avoided getting hit on the pads at my end.
Umpiring, especially in the MCA, is fun, not as fun as playing, but I hope anyone reading these essays will realise that I am always impatient to get out there and enjoy some cricket.
So let’s call ‘play gentlemen’ and get on with the season.