Special moment under SCG lights
Posted in ECB ACO
G’day! I’m Neville Kent, 36 years old and from Cheshire. I’ve been umpiring now for two full seasons in the Meller Braggins Cheshire League and last year in the Saracens Hertfordshire League. My career as a player was nothing special and I eventually retired through both injury and incompetence. Now that I’m in my new role, most players reckon that I should consider the latter (no, I’m not that bad!).
This winter I’ve been down to Lord’s twice to use the Hawkeye system, once with some colleagues from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and once with a friend of mine, Andy Gosling, a fair batsman for Wolverton. Andy used the day as a net session whilst I acted as umpire. Former Barbados and Somerset player Hallam Moseley operated the bowling machine.
Andy was instructed to treat the session as a normal net session but to leave some deliveries that would give me a decision to make. Up above was Ash Gusani, who was surrounded by all of the latest technology that would either prove that I knew what I was doing or would support those players that believed that I should retire through incompetence! Sadly for those doubting players, I’ll be around for a while longer!
On January 12, I flew out to Sydney. On January 14, I headed on down to the SCG to umpire a match in the second Charity Cricket Marathon run by the Primary Club of Australia. The Primary Club is a well run charity that benefits disabled sportsmen and women in continuing to enjoy their chosen sport.
My game at the SCG was at 8.30pm. That meant the floodlights were on and we used white cricket balls and black sightscreens. All of the games were shown live on the two big screens within the ground as well.
My colleague was a gentleman called Graham Reed, who has stood in 18 Sheffield Shield games during his career. He has also acted as a match referee and as an umpire assessor. Indeed, in the Ted Wykes Umpires room in the Members stand, there is an umpires honours board listing umpires from New South Wales that have gone on to umpire First Class Cricket. Some very fine umpires are on that honours board including Darrell Hair, Simon Taufel and Rod Tucker. On the opposite wall, there is a white board that several top umpires from around the world have signed, including Dickie Bird, David Shepherd and most top umpires in recent years. Graham’s name is on both boards!
The umpire’s room at the SCG is named after Ted Wykes. Ted was an Australian Test Match Umpire who was actually born in Northampton. Ted was very involved with the New South Wales Umpires Association and was the president for 22 years. He died around two years ago and his ashes are actually buried at the SCG.
Stepping out onto the playing area, Graham offered me the choice of ends so I chose the Randwick end. We were just two of 40 umpires needed to officiate in the Cricket Marathon. It was played over two days; Thursday 13 and Friday 14 January. Play started each day at 7am and continued non-stop until 10pm. There were 10 matches each day that were 12 overs per side. There were 12 players per side, each pair of batsmen were at the crease for two overs before making way for the next two batsmen. If a batsman was dismissed, he remained at the crease, but four runs were deducted. Every player except the wicketkeeper had to bowl at least one over.
It was an easy game to manage in the end and I had very few decisions to make. I had a few run out appeals (two were given) and one LBW appeal, which was easy to turn down given the fact that we only had three stumps in the ground!
It was a truly memorable occasion for me and one that I will remember forever. There will be many professional umpires who won’t get to stand at the SCG, so as an amateur umpire, I feel very lucky.
Special thanks goes to Darrell Hair and to Jim Cameron, who was kind enough to arrange the appointment and making me feel so welcome and of course to Graham.