Surf and turf

Posted in ECB ACO

I have just had ten days off to go on the annual family surfing trip to Cornwall. There were about 40 of us who went down there. I was ready for the break so it was good to get away. Being my first season on the full list, it has been quite tiring with lots of back-to-back games, changing competitions and travelling to different grounds all over the country.

If you book trips well in advance the ECB are really good at fitting your fixtures around any time off.

I am feeling refreshed ahead of a busy seven week period between now and the end of the season. I am currently on my way to Durham for a Pro40 game with Worcestershire. It should be a good game and being on TV should make it more interesting.

Before I went on holiday I umpired Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire in the Cheltenham Festival - it was all over in two days! I have never been involved in a four-day game which ended so quickly.

The ball swung around a hell of a lot which brought LBWs into play. I was umpiring from the end which David Lucas was bowling from. He bowls left-arm over and brings the ball back into the right-handers, so you have to be alert all the time. Has the ball pitched in line? Is it too high?

I normally take a couple of seconds to think about an LBW shout - that's normally enough time for the bowler's appeal to die down which adds to the drama. I don't have a gimmick in terms of giving people out, it's just a straight forward raising of the finger. The ECB umpires are like that - we are not out to make a name for ourselves.

We have cameras at every first-class ground which is part of Statmaster, so you can have a look at any decisions during the intervals. The players will have a look too and they are never slow to let you know what they think. At Cheltenham, they were all pretty happy with the decisions we made.

I had some good news the other day when I got a call from the ECB who asked me if I would be interested in being the fourth umpire for the first NatWest Twenty20 International between England and Australia at Old Trafford. It's a new experience for me and one I am looking forward to.

We had an umpires' workshop recently which was very useful. It was a good chance for us to get together and discuss any discrepancies when it comes to intrepreting the laws. For example, the no-ball law for a high bouncer in one-day cricket. Is it out if the batsman hits it, or does it still stand as a no-ball? Rather than an email being sent to the umpires we can sit down and talk it through.

We also had to give a presentation - mine revolved around selling your decisions. I spoke of the importance of your body language when you make decisions. We all give off signals so it's crucial you appear confident in your decision making, particularly if you are umpiring a live game in front of 20,000 people.

I have not managed to see much of the Ashes so far but I have listened to some of it on the radio while I have been driving to different grounds. It's quite funny listening to Aggers as he's an old team-mate of mine. He was great company during our playing days, very dry, much like he is on radio.

It made me laugh when I heard him talk about 'Ponting baiting', especially as I had a season with Ricky when I played for Tasmania in 1994/5.

Ricky was only 19 then but had already been fast-tracked into the Australia side. He was a sensational player as a youngster and it was evident even then that he would become a world-class batsman for a long period of time. He was and is a great bloke and has gone on to lead his country with distinction and great humility.

Ricky Ponting

Sweeping all before him - you could tell Ricky was going to be a world-class batsman when he was a teenager

Away from cricket I found out recently that I have been accepted as a JP - a Justice of the Peace. I applied to the magistrates' court, had a series of interviews and a CRB check before I got the news.

I'm really looking forward to it. I will do my training in October and could be sitting by December, either in magistrates or youth court. After a year I should get the chance to specialise. I would like to do voluntary work helping with the rehabilitation of young offenders.

I wanted the opportunity to put something back into society and now is the first time I have had the chance to do that.

I saw some work that my old Leicester team-mate Brian Davison did in Tasmania where he was MP. He was a former army officer in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, and spent time taking young offenders in the bush to teach them about working together and giving them some structure. I really admired him.