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The men in white coats

Posted in ECB ACO

A cold and damp December morning – the alarm clock wakes me from my warm bed with a piercing scream.

I, half-asleep and grumpy, get myself ready and leave my flat to begin the walk to the tube station whilst the rest of London continues to make use of their Saturday lie-in.

Not for me however, for I am on my way to Lord's.

“What? In December?!” I hear you ask. “There’s no cricket on for months yet.”

Indeed, you are correct but I am not going to watch or even umpire but to meet, along with six others, the newly formed Young Umpires Award team.

This is aimed as a four hour introduction to umpiring for 16–25 year olds who may be looking for another way to enjoy cricket.

The course is taken around clubs and schools and upon completion the candidates umpire three youth games before receiving their YUA certificates. I along with the remaining six have been asked to be the inaugural tutors.

The day was excellent and soon my tiredness was a memory as Ben Francis explained to us the course and engaged in lively banter with us all about cricket. My fellow tutors were an equally lively bunch to and we spent the day sharing our stories about what made us all turn to umpiring at such a young age and where it has taken us up to now.

The course looks to have landed on its feet with venues already booking courses and I look forward to meeting potential young umpires who feel they have something special to contribute to the great game.

I travel to Bury next month and Bromley the month after to deliver this really promising award and look forward to talking with my fellow tutors about their experiences over the following months – I only wish it had been available when I first fancied donning the white coat.

However, it doesn’t just stop with course. Oh, no. Last weekend I travelled to the Harrow Leisure Centre to meet Ben to take part in the London Youth Games for the indoor cricket opening rounds.

Whilst we were mainly collating results and helping to ensure the teams were registered, it was fantastic to meet the team of umpires for the tournament and to hear about their most impressive umpiring CVs - one or two of whom had been umpiring Premier League and county 2nd XI cricket before I was even born.

The weekend was a great success with six teams stomping through to the finals day to be played at Lord's and it was such a privilege to be able to watch the standard of youth cricket and learn about the competition.

In the off-season a great deal of my time is spent in London but I sit on as a local representative for Hastings and District ACO on the Sussex ACO and am part of the training team for the Level 1 umpires course for Hastings and District.

Both these I find to be great uses for my time and an opportunity to take part in the way cricket is organised in Sussex and give something back to a game that gives me such pleasure in the summer.

Our current level 1 course in playing to good numbers (some of whom return to refresh year after year) and this gives not only the chance for people to learn and qualify as umpires but also for me to refresh my memory of parts of law I’ve forgotten.

I feel immensely privileged to be part of this award team and also to be part of this fantastic game. Season 2010 is just around the corner – bring it on, I can’t wait.

See you in the middle.

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