Hitting the road...again!
Posted in Domestic Cricket
It's been a busy start to the season but I am really enjoying my first year on the full list of professional umpires.
It's certainly different to being on the reserve list. There you are doing a lot of second team matches where you are standing with an amateur umpire.
As the professional out in the middle the running of the
game falls on your shoulders. Whether it's time lost, rejigging of overs - it is down to you, the first class umpire, to sort and rightly so.
When you step up like I have you notice there is a lot more teamwork involved with the other first class umpire.
On Wednesday I umpired Derbyshire v Lancashire in the Friends Provident Trophy where we were on and off a fair bit in the second innings.
Myself and the other umpire, Nigel Cowley, worked together to rejig the new target and Powerplays. It was good to have that teamwork. The other umpires - there are 25 of us - are a terrific group of people.
That match was my first TV game. The main difference is that you have a couple of options when it comes to run-outs and stumpings in that you can refer them to the third umpire. As a former player I find the use of the technology comes naturally.
There is a bit of pressure when you umpire a TV game though with all the replays. The commentators and people watching at home get to see our decisions in slow motion with various technical aids like Hawkeye. I'm fine with that. I take the attitude that you give what you see and that occasionally you might be wrong.
I enjoyed it though, especially bumping into some old friends who were commentating for Sky, the likes of Dominic Cork, who I went on an England 'A' tour to Australia with in 1992, Mark Ealham and Paul Allott.
I was at The Oval last week for Surrey v Middlesex. That was a good game of cricket. Phil Hughes got a hundred, Mark Ramprakash got a ton and the game went down to the final ball. That does not happen often in four-day cricket.
It was a busy game for me and my fellow umpire, Jeff Evans, as we had to report a couple of players who got overheated.
You have to sensible with matters like that as things can get said in the heat of the moment. Players can get worked up and the key is to try and pre-empt anything. I think having spent 17 years as a professional helps me read the game and generally I can see if something might happen between two players.
The role of an umpire is to manage the game more than anything else. If something unnecessary looks like it might happen then I treat the players with respect. I warn them that I don't want to
If they involve me then I will be forced to throw the book at them. It's very rare though that anything happens.
You spend a lot of time on the road as an umpire. Last week I was in London from Wednesday to Saturday then on Sunday I drove to Brighton as the following day I umpired Sussex v Durham. I had a day off on Tuesday, worked Wednesday at Derby, will be back at the Oval on Friday, Canterbury on Sunday then the Rose Bowl on Monday for Hampshire v Ireland.
Some of the guys who live on the south coast or the north east might spend two or three weeks away from home. I live in Nottingham so I am quite lucky.
The ECB makes sure an umpire has a number of games in one area - I have a tour of the south coming up - so although it's a lot of miles you are not driving from Kent to Durham then to Somerset on consecutive days.
You have to be organised when you are on the road but that is something I find comes naturally.
When I played everything was organised for you - hotels, meals etc. As an umpire you are in charge of looking after yourself. I prefer that though as it means I can stay where I want - I prefer city centre hotels whereas others like to stay in the country - and do what I want once the day's play has finished. I like to go to the cinema or the gym. It's important to keep yourself busy.
Being away from home for such a long period is hard but once the season finishes I can spend as much time as I want with my family.
I have three kids and for half of the year I can be with them for as long as I want. Not many dads can do that.
I feel privileged to be doing this job. It's something I love doing - not many people can say that about their work.
I signed a three-year contract when I went to Nottinghamshire in 2000 but unfortunately my knee blew up that summer. The county were very good - they said take 12 months to get back but it was clear I was not going to make it. After a 17 year career I retired at 36.
I stepped away from cricket and set up my own company which ran
incentive programmes. I needed that move away from the game to help me come to terms with finishing as a player.
I missed cricket though and wanted to get back in through umpiring.
Fortunately business was going well and that allowed me to get onto the reserve list.