I was cricket mad growing up, a fairly average cricketer who just wanted to be involved in everything and anything cricket.
I did a bit of umpiring for the junior teams and in Kwik cricket tournaments just to help my club and loved it. I pestered my dad to let me do one of the umpiring courses and started my Level 1 course at 13 years old.
At such a young age I was concerned the course could be death by Powerpoint, but the tutors were brilliant. They gave real-life examples of match situations they had experienced and how they applied the laws to those scenarios. After completing the course, I couldn’t wait to get started.
I started my umpiring in the Durham Coast League. Although I’d hit 14 by the time the season started, I was still very young to be umpiring. My dad did his Level 1 at the same time as me so for the first two seasons he umpired every game with me. He was a great support – and taxi driver!
I umpired any game of cricket possible as I was eager to learn and develop; I did 1st and 2nd XI cricket on a Saturday, 3rd team cricket on a Sunday, and social teams on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday night. I had five seasons of doing feeder league cricket before I joined the North East Premier League panel at 19 years old.
Whenever I step on the field, I have the same goal; I aspire to be confident, calm, approachable and respected.
Every time a decision is made on field, all eyes are on you. I was lucky to be taught at an early stage to just focus on one ball at a time. My tutors told me: ‘If you make a mistake put that mistake straight into a box, throw the box away and pick it back up at a later point to reflect on in your own time and see how you can learn from it’.
If you remain calm on the field, communicate well with people, and show that you’re approachable, respect will always follow.
The biggest challenge I’ve faced as an umpire is that unfortunately some people assume that my age means I lack experience. I’ve walked into grounds where the teams don’t know me and heard them say: “That’s the umpire… He’s a bit young, isn’t he?”
But I let my own talent do the talking when I get out on the field by showing how calm and confident I am.
I’ve always received great support as an umpire. Obviously my dad has been an excellent source of support, but I’ve also been helped a lot by my local ACO. They have always provided me with positive reinforcement and put me forward to the Young Officials programme after my first season.
The Young Officials programme has enabled me to meet other talented young umpires as well as some very experienced senior umpires from up and down the country. I get to speak with them regularly to discuss our experiences and lessons we’ve learned to try and help each other improve.
I’ve recently been accepted onto the ECB National Umpires Panel. It’s difficult to express my thanks to all those who have helped me along the way, and I can’t wait for the new challenge!
For anyone starting out in umpiring, my main piece of advice would be to learn that you aren’t perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. We all want to have a nice quiet game where we get all our decisions right, unfortunately it doesn’t always work out like that.
You will make mistakes but it’s so important that you don’t criticise yourself too much and instead use them as a learning opportunity to improve your own skills.
I’d also encourage new umpires to ask questions. It’s the best way to learn and improve. The cricket community is a supportive one and I’ve always found that my umpiring colleagues, scorers, grounds management staff, and players are open to discussing the game with me and helping me build my all-round cricket knowledge.
When you’re trying to improve, there is no such thing as a stupid question so if you aren’t sure about something don’t be afraid to ask.
For more information on becoming and umpire, visit the Cricket Umpiring Courses page.