Almanac (Local) Cricket: New Blokes



My son got engaged on the weekend past. There was quite a deal of work up required by yours truly and the father of the bride to be. My prospective daughter-in-law marched me down to the city to get a new suit, tie and pair of shoes. The bride-to-be marched her dad in to see me to get some dental work done.


The happy couple did a power of work getting the venue and night organised. The night went off very well, largely due to the pre-party preparation.


Starting a season umpiring cricket also requires some preseason work, especially for our new umpires. We, in the Merks, have many more new umpires each year than most competitions which is reflected in the fact that we have umpires in all games, right down to our Grade Eleven. Fortunately, we have two paid officials that put an enormous amount of work with the new umpires and it shows.


When you are with a new umpire for the hundredth time you know exactly what mistakes they will make and how they will move out on the field that will allow all the players to realise they are ‘new blokes’.


One thing that all new umpires do is stare at their counters most of the time; well most of the time. I keep telling them it’s not a syringe of heroin. Instead of watching the ball, and therefore the play, they get obsessed with how many balls are to go in this over. You have to watch the ball until the play goes dead.


The other thing they do is they watch the ball travelling out to the boundary, rather than watch the batsmen running, so missing all short runs. Most of our boundaries are a white line, totally invisible from the centre of the pitch. You rely on the honesty of the fieldsman to get the boundary call correct as the central umpire has no idea if the ball has crossed the boundary. You may think that this is a minor point but I have called short runs in all my games so far this year. The standard in the Merks is not that high.


One of these short runs I have called this year was rather amusing. The batsmen attempted to run two. I called the first short, and the second one proved to be disastrously short as the other umpire gave the batsman run out on the second run. They say the walk back to the pavilion is a long one. Well, these batsmen ran a long way to nowhere, before the ‘long walk back’.


However, the standard of our new umpires has me excited. The bloke I umpired with yesterday, a day where we went off several times for rain, knew our Rules that cover this. He had bothered to read them on the morning of the match. What got me excited was the fact that he had, previously, called two short runs in his first game but the best bit of ‘new umpiring’ comes next.


We played 20/20 games to start the season and we play a free hit after all no balls, but you don’t have a free hit after a wide has been delivered which has always seemed strange to me. So what got me excited.


A ‘leggie’ came on to bowl his first ball of the season and it squirted down the leg side, a very clear wide, so out went my arms and I called ‘wide’. Then, before I gave the signal a second time to the scorers (It is only when the scorers get this second signal that they enter the score. The first signal and call is for the players only and should be ignored by the scorers. This is something that few cricketers know) I thought hang on, “Was that a no ball”.


21.7 Ball bouncing more than once, rolling along the ground or pitching off the pitch

The umpire shall call and signal No ball if a ball which he/she considers to have been delivered, without having previously touched bat or person of the striker,

– bounces more than once or rolls along the ground before it reaches the popping crease

The lines were getting rather hard to see as three games had been played previously with no repair to the lines.


This decision matters as there is a free hit at stake here. I went over to my brand-new colleague and asked, “Did that ball bounce…” He interrupted with, “It was a no ball, Phil”. I had to reverse my incorrect wide signal, call a no ball and signal a free hit. My mistake was to call the wide too quickly but luckily, I was umpiring with a competent umpire. The batsman wasn’t that competent as he had an almighty slog at the next delivery and missed.


Being a long time umpire it is pleasing to see these young blokes start so well. It’s a credit also to our two officers, John and Paul, that the new blokes are performing well. With proper training the new umpires will not only umpire better they will also enjoy the umpiring much more.



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  1. Love these, Phil, keep them coming. As a very amateur umpire of junior cricket I had an animated discussion with the umpire at square leg over that very rule last year. The bowler from my son’s team bowled an opposition batsman, the second bounce occurring after the popping crease. While I gave him out, the other team’s umpire at square leg called no ball (at U10 level the previous season, it would be no ball regardless of where the second bounce occurred). After a quick discussion, it was apparent that our understanding of the circumstances was identical, it was just our understanding of the laws that differed. A quick visit to the scorers’ desk with the laws handy led my original out call to stand. No idea if that’s how it is supposed to be resolved but the correct call was made in the end.

    p.s. congrats on your son’s engagement

  2. Hey Phil,
    My cricket umpiring career was way too short.
    It’s something I would love to return to, but young kids, a separation etc…
    I remember an incident where a fast bowler was upset with me.
    A thick edge went through to the keeper, low. The bowler turned and appealed madly, as did his teammates.
    ‘Not out,’ I said.
    The bowler swore. ‘He f****** hit the cover off it.’
    The captain walked up, arms wide. ‘How is that not out?’
    ‘It bounced before the keeper,’ I said.
    The keeper disagreed.
    Amidst the discussion, the square leg umpire, a veteran, wandered up. ‘It bounced,’ he said. ‘Let’s play.’
    Dejectedly, they played on…
    Support and knowledge is crucial.

  3. Phillip Hill says

    Ironmike, you bring up a point that I will write about. What is ‘dissent’. They have re-written the laws that govern this sort of thing, poorly in my opinion.

    I think players must be able to show disappointment but they mustn’t carry on like pork chops so I have a two hit rule which you may be interested to read about later in the season.

    Thank God (Our God is John Sexton, our appointments Officer) that you had non player umpire and an experienced one at square leg.

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