Sue Redfern proud to make history as first female umpire in Vitality Blast

Sue Redfern will become the first female umpire to officiate on-field in the Vitality Blast when she stands in this Sunday’s match between Gloucestershire and Middlesex at the Seat Unique Stadium in Bristol. Sue has written for the ECB website to describe the significance of the occasion, not just on her career, but for female officials as she continues to blaze a trail.

When I walk out to the middle to officiate my first Vitality Blast game this Sunday I’m not quite sure how I’ll feel.

It’ll be a breakthrough moment, not just for me, but for our sport and for female officials in general.

I feel a bit awkward and count myself very fortunate because I’m doing something that I absolutely love as a job.

I remind myself that I’ve worked extremely hard to progress my career to this stage and I’ve got to this point in my career on merit.

The steps the ECB has taken over the past couple of seasons to make the umpiring pathway more inclusive have opened up opportunities like these for me and, from a personal perspective, this is just the next step in my progression as an umpire - with my ambition to be the best I can be.

It’s clearly more than just that though and I’m sure there’ll be some emotion come Sunday because I realise it’ll be an important moment for other female umpires who want to follow in my footsteps.

I recognise that there’s a need for more female umpires. And I know the visibility of me in this role, and umpiring in these kinds of matches, is important to help inspire and show other women that we belong on this stage.

We absolutely do belong and we do so at every level of the game whether it’s in club cricket or professional games or international matches.

So while I may feel some awkwardness, I recognise the significance of being able to break new ground so that when the next female umpires come along they can do whatever matches they want and can progress to whatever level their ambition and ability allows.

We do, of course, already have some amazing female umpires progressing through the pathways to umpire both men’s and women’s cricket.

But we cannot rest on that. It’s still not enough and we need to do more to get more female officials into our sport.

I’m clear about my role and responsibility in making that progress happen and so when I walk out at Bristol on Sunday that’ll be in the back of my mind too.

One of the keys to being a role model is being true to myself and working hard on the things that have made me successful.

Routine is a key fundamental for me, and ahead of Sunday I’ll have done all the detailed preparation to make sure I’m comfortable for the match so that I can perform to my best on the day.

I only ever concentrate on the next game I’m going to officiate in. So, while Sunday is important, I have games beforehand I’ll be focusing on, including being the TV umpire for the Roses derby at Headingley on Thursday night.

After that I’ll turn my attention to Sunday. I’m umpiring with Ian Blackwell so I’ll pick up the phone to Ian sometime this week to just have a chat and run through any details we need to discuss before the game.

On matchday I’ll get there a couple of hours early. It’s a double header on Sunday so it’ll be a case of doing what I need to do around the match taking place.

I’ll get myself set up in my changing room then sit down with Ian and talk through key points for the day and any regs that might need clarifying to ensure we apply them consistently.

I’ll make sure I know the players who are playing and have some information on them.

Again, this is just to make sure I’ll feel as prepared as possible to avoid any curve balls the day might throw our way.

It’ll then just be a case of getting out there and doing my thing as an umpire.

Above all else it’ll be a day I look back on fondly. I understand the significance of the moment for our sport and I look forward to enjoying the occasion.