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Calling time

Posted in ECB ACO

I recently made my way to North Sydney 2 Oval to umpire the Third Grade match between North Sydney and Bankstown.

The weather was glorious as was the ground - the Harbour Bridge clearly visible from out in the middle.

Sydney Grade Cricket is one of the strongest club championships anywhere. Several great names from the past have played First Grade Cricket and none other than Sir Don Bradman played for North Sydney for a short time before playing most of his Grade cricket at St George. Bankstown is famous for the Waugh brothers playing for them.

There are five Grades and some of the First Grade games would be as good as our own County Championship. Second and Third Grade would be around Premier League level.

Most rounds are played over two days with each team having the option of playing two innings. However, a team can register a win on the first innings should there be insufficient time to play two innings. The competition is played under normal Laws of cricket.

There are some aspects different from the playing conditions that we are used to. The restrictions for junior bowlers are different from England and the spells for each age group are:

Under 19s – eight overs per spell, 20 in day.

Under 17s – six overs per spell, 16 in day.

Under 15s – five overs per spell, 10 in day.

Under 14s – four overs in spell, eight in day.

Neville Kent

Davern Lewis and I outside the Doug Walters Pavilion before umpiring Parramatta's match against Penrith

Once a bowler has bowled the maximum allowed, he cannot bowl for 60 minutes. If the bowler starts by bowling spin and then goes onto fast bowling, the spell starts from the first over of fast bowling.

There is also a rule stating that if a flash of lightning is followed by a clap of thunder less than 30 seconds later, then play is suspended and cannot resume until 30 minutes after the last flash of lightning.

The pitch was in magnificent condition and it was no surprise that North Sydney elected to bat first, but it was a surprise to see their opener being bowled first ball. At the end of an easy day for the umpires, North Sydney got a below-par 203 and Bankstown survived the rest of the day without loss.

We returned a week later for the conclusion and Bankstown passed North Sydney’s total just before tea with five wickets in hand and won on their first innings.

My next game was on 12th and 19th February at Old King’s Oval for a Second Grade match between Parramatta and Penrith. The pavilion at Parramatta is named after Doug Walters, who played Grade cricket there during his time. Benaud also played for the club.

First and Second Grade games start at 10.30am and have 96 overs in the day. The structure of the day is similar to a First Class game. The lower Grades start at 12.15pm and play 80 overs. This meant an early start for me and my colleague Davern Lewis.

The weather was none too kind to us on the first day and after Parramatta won the toss and chose to bat, we only managed to complete 54 overs before rain finally washed out the rest of the day. This meant a 9.30am start on the second day and provision for 120 overs. The weather on the second day was totally different – 37c and very humid. Within 76 overs, Penrith had won by two wickets.

In First and Second Grade games, umpires and captains are required to have a post-match meeting. I’d heard a few umpires’ tales regarding these meetings, but thankfully our meeting went well and both captains were happy with the game and the decisions that we gave.

The following day, Davern and I went down to Bowral, home of what is now called the International Cricket Hall of Fame. We spent the whole day there and a visit to this place is an absolute must for any true cricket fan.

Finally, a big thanks goes to Darrell Hair and everyone at the New South Wales Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association for making me feel welcome and helping make the six week trip so memorable. The experience and hospitality was magnificent.

Neville Kent

I had the pleasure of meeting former Test umpire Darrell Hair when I was at the Manly Oval