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The men in white coats

Posted in ECB ACO

From the moment I picked up the white coat, I never imagined how my life would turn from being quiet and calm into a rollercoaster journey.

It has already been an unbelievable journey as I have gone from village green to TV screen, and then back to some of the most high profile matches taking place within our country.

This week has been no different as I was appointed to the MCC Under-13 Spirit of Cricket National Finals festival.

This festival was a prime opportunity for us young officials to show how we can make our mark and exceed in all expectations while showing that we are willing to take on board the exceptional advice from our more senior colleagues.

So, on Wednesday August 12 I decided that the best way for me to travel to Oakham School was going to be by train. This proved to be a mistake as just an hour into my journey, someone decided to take a nap on my shoulder.

However, the day did start to improve as Fergus Guppy, Young Officials Development Officer, picked me up from the station and we watched the Under-15 County Cup final.

As I was introduced to my fellow young colleagues, Andrew and Ethan, I could not help but be completely mesmerised by some of the stories that they had to tell, particularly by the fact that Andrew had already gained ten years' experience and was only 19 but had only been full-time on a panel for two years.

Likewise, Ethan was only in his first year of officiating but had already gained a great knowledge and was keen to progress and learn from others.

While we all sat with the Yorkshire team awaiting to bat, they seemed just as interested and keen by some of the stories as we went from the subject of umpiring to how you would ‘cow ‘or ‘moo’ a ball when you were batting.

On Thursday morning we were introduced to more of our fellow colleagues who between them must have had over 80 years of experience between them.

The plan was that the three younger chaps would take to the field with the more senior boys and each one of us would be appointed to two of the 20-over matches.

The day could not have begun better as the three of us walked out to glorious sunshine and a finely cut outfield. The pitches were as flat as a road - heaven for any batsmen including me as a specialist number eleven.

Compared to the experience our seniors had wrapped up, the younger lads had roughly 19 years.

Nevertheless, this did not stop us sharing the valued field technique and man-management training that we had received.

My first assignment of the day was going to be one of the first matches of the day between Wolverhampton and Cambridge. The most amazing part of this match was that with Cambridge batting first, Warrington's bowlers were only responsible for one no ball and no wides.

As the evening progressed, it was time to retire and enjoy some of the finer moments of travelling away with cricket as we had the privilege of having dinner with Derek Underwood and Paul Bedford.

This unique occasion allowed us time to introduce ourselves as we learnt much about them. This was also the evening that we were introduced to the Greenhill Club that the senior members had founded a fair few years ago and we were told about the plate that they had awarded year after year, which was given to the person that had caused the most controversy that season.

Finally, as we look to promote younger officials, this festival has proven that we can move forward with officiating with positive assistance from our senior colleagues.