5,000th ECB ACO Member celebrates at Lord’s

ECB Association of Cricket Officials

Paul Bedford & Michael Sparks

Mike Sparks (right) at Lord's with ECB's Paul Bedford, head of cricket operations for the non first class game

Mike Sparks from Carlisle celebrated becoming the 5,000th member of the new ECB ACO at Lord’s on Thursday, July 10, enjoying an all-expenses-paid trip to the npower Test match.

As well as enjoying the match, Mike met the npower Test officials Darryl Harper, Billy Bowden and Jeff Crowe and took a tour around the historic venue.

The ECB Association of Cricket Officials was established on January 1 2008 to support umpires and scorers throughout England and Wales. It is an amalgamation of the Association of Umpires and Scorers (ACU&S) and the ECB Officials Association (ECB OA).

Giles Clarke, ECB chairman, said: “This is a great sign to show the success of the new organisation. We must now build on this hard work, tied in with the Spirit of Cricket to keep improving officiating in today’s game in England and Wales.”

Mike started scoring for Lancaster CC 3rd XI at age 11, and soon got the odd game for them. He then played in local leagues around Lancaster for over 30 years including Lancaster & District League, South Lakeland League, Palace Shield and a handful of games in the Northern League Division 2, as a wicketkeeper-batsman.

Mike then joined Gregson CC until a shoulder injury stopped him playing about four years ago.

Mike watched 28-year-old Kevin Pietersen score a magnificent century at Lord’s, and recalled making his only 'ton' for Gregson CC at the age of 50!

Moving to Carlisle in October 2004, Mike decided to take up umpiring with a desire to give something back to a game that had given him so much enjoyment. Mike joined the North Lancashire & Cumbria Federation of Cricket Umpires and the ACU & S before joining the new ECB ACO.

In his first two seasons he umpired in the N Lancs & Cumbria League and passed his GL6 before gaining more practical experience before taking GL5.

This season Mike has joined a small panel of umpires officiating in the Eden Valley League, trying to help improve the League's standards.