Sue Redfern: 'There's no reason why females can't umpire at this level'

Sue Redfern reflects on the latest 'first' in her trailblazing umpiring career after becoming the first female to umpire an LV= Insurance County Championship match.

Sue Redfern believes she has helped to “send an important message” after last week becoming the first female in the 133-year history of the LV= Insurance County Championship to umpire a match.

Redfern took the latest step in her trailblazing journey as an umpire when she officiated in the drawn four-day match between Glamorgan and Derbyshire at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.

"There is absolutely no reason why females can't umpire in this environment and I think that's an important message to send," Redfern said.

"I have to recognise the importance of visibility and the fact people haven't seen female umpires before in this environment. We know that if we see people who are like us, others can aspire to be.

"I feel incredibly privileged and lucky to be where I am and to call this a profession.

“I was delighted I was able to finish the game feeling strong and I'm very pleased overall, and grateful to my colleagues.”

The former England player’s appointment made headlines around the world, with former tennis star and sporting icon Billie Jean King even congratulating her on social media after reading her story in the New York Times.

Redfern has previously admitted to feeling awkward at such attention, but as she builds a long line of ‘firsts’ she has embraced the importance of her status.

The 45-year-old’s full-time appointment to the ECB’s new professional umpires team last year has helped open doors and, most importantly for Redfern, she feels she is a better umpire for it.

Redfern had previously had to balance her umpiring with other work commitments but is now able to focus on being the best umpire she can be as she continues to earn her reputation at the top level.

"Who knows what the future holds. For me it is a case of reflecting on the season, looking at some areas of development and seeing how I can improve,” said Redfern, who began the year officiating in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa – her sixth global tournament.

"I want to come back next season and try to consolidate what I've done this year. I need to give myself a bit of time to be proud of what I have achieved. 

"I want to stay at this level in the game and I just want to keep on improving. I am full-time and contracted for next season, so the key thing for me is to work hard over the winter to try to improve in all areas.

Sue Redfern interacts with Glamorgan's Jamie McIlroy during the opening day at Cardiff. Getty - Harry Trump

"You have to be able to control the controllables. Whatever I'm given, it is important I can show I can work in that environment, whatever it might be."

Redfern proved that in Cardiff where she admitted to enjoying the opportunity of a new challenge.

While only two wickets fell on the opening day, Redfern turned down a few appeals - "I was happy with all those decisions” - as she reflected on a memorable week.

"It is a dream to be able to do what I love for a living. I love cricket and it has given me so much. It's just great that I can stand out in the middle and watch some fantastic cricket - I love it," she said.

"It was a new environment for me, and it was a case of establishing myself and getting used to it. I wanted to see what the differences were.

"I just wanted to be 'me' on the field, and that's what I hopefully did. There are different pinch points and different pressure points between the women's and men's game but overall, they all want to be highly competitive and just win the game. For me It is all about working with the players."

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