Blind Deaf and Clueless; Park cricket Returns

Blind, Deaf and Clueless is back for another year of reports from Fawkner Park or where ever John Sexton, the Appointment Officer, needs an umpire. This year will be like all other cricket seasons. There are some things that never change. In fact, very few things ever change, but the Laws of Cricket dealing with aberrant behaviour have changed quite a bit over the off season, but first let’s talk about what will not change.

1.     The losing team will complain loudly that the umpires were to blame for the loss. The winning team will also complain but without any ‘heat’.

2.     The new umpires that I umpire with this year will make exactly the same mistakes as last year’s lot. Remember some of them are ‘zebras’.

3.     The Merks will have a full book of umpires making it an unique association

4.     John Sexton and Paul Balesia (the appointment and training officers ) will be pulling their hair out come Christmas


So what has changed is that the MCC Laws committee has seen fit to introduce an entirely new Law 42. This Law deals with poor behaviour. Now we in the Merks did not need any new laws because the player’s behaviour in the Merks is simply wonderful, and there is a very simple reason that it is such a pleasant, but competitive competition. We have umpires in all our lower grades.


In most competitions they only have umpires in the top couple of grades. This means that the lower grades are umpired by the players themselves and so the players have, probably legitimately, good reasons to suspect that the batting side’s umpires will never give an LBW. It is nearly impossible for a player umpire to discipline one of the opposing players, and it is impossible for a player umpire to report one of his own players.


It means that behaviour in these ‘umpireless’ grade is appalling and when these players go up into a grade with an umpire they have no idea of the expected behaviour. It is the usual practice that the least experienced umpires umpire in the lower grades so you can see we have the worst behaved players with the ‘zebras’. Even the non-zebra umpires feel like giving the game away.


We do not have this problem in the Merks and we have gained several experienced umpires from other competitions when they realise that, in the Merks, they will be with another umpire and the teams will make them welcome and treat them royally.


This royal treatment will not change. Many times this season I will be greeted like an old friend by teams that I have made crucial mistakes in their games many times in the past.. I remember missing two caught behinds in a row, in the last game of the season, ensuring that Burnley missed the A Grade finals that year. I think I was more upset then they were. Well, maybe not, but they have forgotten about it but I haven’t.


The problem that the MCC have is the Laws are designed to regulate play out on the field in all cricket matches and the behaviour in the Doncaster Under 12s is somewhat different from Glen McGrath snarling down the pitch in a test match. I will be interested to see what Paul Belasia will have to say at our first meetings of the year.


PS A zebra is genetically closely related to a horse but no one has been able to breed a zebra that you can train, tame or ride. Some of our new umpires will be zebras.




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