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Introduction to umpiring in cricket

Cricket is a world class game that mesmerises the heart and soul of people across the globe. It is a game which is played between two teams comprising of eleven members each. Basically it is a single warfare wherein an individual batsman is battling against an individual bowlers and the others on the field are helpers known as fielders. The bowlers bowls with a straight arm from one end of the 22 yard pitch with an aim to dismiss the batsman by hitting the wicket at the other end or by making the batsman out by catching the ball whereas the batsman tries to defend and make runs. In the said description it would seem that these two are the only main components of the game but the same is a myth. The other components that are important are the ones’ who have the authority to take decisions which can make or break the happiness of a team. It is none other than an umpire- one who is least talked about amongst the other associates of a cricket match. He is a part of the newspaper headlines only if he takes a wrong decision on the play ground. The other time when he gets recognition is during the ICC ceremony on a yearly basis. An umpire in a cricketing game is an individual who has the decision making power on the field during a cricket match as per the rules of the game.

Apart from deciding upon the legitimacy of the deliveries and pleas made for the wickets and the overall conduct of the match, he also keeps a track of the various deliveries and makes announcements with regards the conclusion of an over. Often an umpire is confused with a referee but the two are different (Wigmore). Umpire is a French word ‘Nompere’ which means not equal i.e. he is the one who is unbiased on the fields.

I can very well relate myself to being an umpire as since the age of ten I have been playing the role of an umpire in my school cricket. It would sound unusual that an age where all boys are more inclined towards batting, my interest was towards being an umpire of the game. It has been a part and parcel of my life and I have read so many books on umpiring that now I feel I am an expert in this profession and can adhere to any kind of queries. I am trying to pursue my career towards becoming one. My goal is to become an international cricket umpire for which I need to clear the three levels of umpiring course. I have got myself enrolled with GCA so that i can be eligible to act as an umpire in schools and under sixteen matches. Further to this I will have to complete the second level of the course post which I will be able to act as an umpire in the league matches at the club division and below and finally I will have to attend and successfully complete the third level. However before the third level, I will have to act as an umpire of at least ten games or more before fulfilling the eligibility criteria to enter this last level. Until and unless I clear these three levels, it is impossible for me to reach my career goal.

Importance of umpires in cricket

A cricket match requires two umpires on the field and their positioning on the ground plays a crucial role. One stands behind the bowler’s wicket and is considered to be the most imperative one since most of the decisions are taken by that position’s umpire. The second one stands with a side view from the batsman’s view and is named as square leg umpire. He helps the main umpire take many decisions with regards such shots which he is unable to view from his position. Although my school matches had only these two umpires and I played both, initially as the secondary one and as I gained more insight about umpiring, I started to play the role of the main umpire as well, there is a third one also in professional games (Ware).

The third umpire is not found on the fields but has the option of viewing the match via the screen. Third umpire also basically helps the ones’ on the field in case of such situations when both the on-site umpires are unsure. The third umpire has the accessibility to the replays and hence can make the right decisions in situations of confusion (Rumford). Thus the job a third umpire although crucial in avoiding any kind of wrong decisions, yet in my opinion becoming an on field umpire is of greater vigour. The concept of a third umpire is not very old.

Nevertheless, even if the umpire is the least famous in the game of cricket, yet he has a lot of duties and responsibilities. Before the start of any match it is their duty to examine the playing field spot and check the equipments. Further if the boundaries are accurately marked is also a duty of the umpire to verify. They meet up with the captains so as to check the line up details and discuss about the hours of play, food timings as well as drinks break.  On the field during the game, umpires have the burden to ensure that the game is played in a fair manner. His job is to check whether the batsman is out, the bowling is done unmistakably i.e. there is no such mistakes as ‘no ball’, ‘wide ball’, ‘leg bye’ and to take a call on the number of runs the batsman has hit (Finch).

 A well versed cricket umpire is a person who has a detailed knowledge about the game and its rules. They are required to have patience, good interactive skills as well as management skills. It took time for me to develop all these skills as it is not easy to stay patient specially in a test match but was able to over a period of time with practice. As an umpire, I was required to stay tranquil during pressure and have the ability to make fast yet precise decisions. Those umpires who have just entered the profession need to attend a short training course and those who take it up in a professional manner need to undergo intensive training programs. Accreditation as a fully certified umpire through the United States of America Cricket Association is a four year course.

Different types of umpires in cricket

I have learned from my experience that to become a good umpire, one needs to be a good person imbibing good values. Thus for every match an unbiased person is looked for. I have understood that playing the role of an umpire is not an easy task and is a very challenging role. One is not expected to be very stubborn but has to be tough from inside to take certain harsh decisions at times (Gollapudi). Thus it becomes very difficult for a umpire to build a relationship with the team players. Earning of respect is possible but making some team member a friend is not.

I have always looked towards Simon Taufel as my mentor when it comes to imbibing the characteristic of being a good human being while umpiring a game of cricket match. On reading his story, it made me realise that hobbies can be turned into a successful career with will power and zest. Although it took time for him to be a part of the international match, but patience paid well. It is he who made me realise that knowledge coupled with good values is what makes a person an ideal umpire. The brunt that it is not a much talked about job in the match field yet to act as a good match official is not easy but Samuel had all of it. He taught me not to be friends with any one on the play field but build a relationship of respect and take decisions which are correct so that players on the field will always respect you. Further Samuel always felt that age is no bar for acting as an umpire. The job of an umpire is that of having the right skills, approach and most important knowledge base. Lastly it is a myth that to become a good umpire one has to have been a good cricketer as well. It is a mental job rather than a physical one.

Thus on a concluding note, it can be said that an umpire has an equally important and an impeccable role to play. Six basic characteristics that is looked in every umpire apart of being knowledgeable about the game is honesty, self-assurance, unprejudiced, forbearance, audacity and endurance. But along with the same, an umpire will have to work upon development of good presentation and interactive skill.

Finch, Carol. “Duties and Responsibilities of a Cricket Umpire.” N.p., 2016. <woman.thenest.com/duties-responsibilities-cricket-umpire-20088.html>. Accessed on 25 Mar. 2017.

Gollapudi, Nagraj. “To be a good umpire you have to be a good person.” The Cricket Monthly. N.p., 28 Nov. 2012. <www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/591383.html>. Accessed on 25 March 2017.

“An Introduction to Cricket Umpiring.” New Zealand Cricket Umpires & Scorers Association (2013): 4-15. <www.nzcusa.org.nz/resources/An%20introduction%20to%20cricket%20umpiring%202013.pdf>. Accessed on 25 Mar. 2017.

Rumford, Chris. Cricket and Globalisation. N.p.: Cambridge, 2010. Print.

Ware, Gemma. “Its just not cricket! Only two neutral umpires can eliminate bias in favour of home team.” The Conversation. N.p., 23 Dec. 2014. < theconversation.com/its-just-not-cricket-only-two-neutral-umpires-can-eliminate-bias-in-favour-of-home-team-35780> . Accessed on 25 Mar 2017.

Wigmore, Tim. “The White Coat’s Burden.” The Cricket Monthly. N.p., Oct 2014. < www.thecricketmonthly.com/story/785163/the-white-coat-s-burden>. Accessed on 25 Mar. 2017.

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