The umpiring journey: '˜I just have to be more decisive'

Sussex Sports editor Mark Dunford is in his first year as a qualified umpire, after passing his ECBACO Level 1 course over the winter. On Saturday he umpired his first Sussex League match.

DM16114320a.jpg Cricket: Broadwater v Crawley Down (batting). Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160205-204916001
DM16114320a.jpg Cricket: Broadwater v Crawley Down (batting). Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160205-204916001

Gareth Cook - lbw b Ollie Bailey 15.

That was it. The first time I had to raise my finger as a qualified umpire.

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This was my second game in league cricket but first in the Sussex League (Division 3 to be precise).

My first game - Broadwater v Crawley Down in the West Sussex League - was relatively quiet.

But this was a little more intense, but I don’t think I could have asked for an easier first Sussex League game. And part of that was down to having an experienced colleague in Alan Shipley.

The Cook dismissal wasn’t straight forward. The batsman planted his foot quite a way down the track to leg spinner Bailey. There was little turn and the ball pitched on the stumps.

My only consideration was height. But ball had already travelled some distance after it had bounced so I had a fair idea that it wasn’t going over the stumps. So I raised my finger.

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The second occasion I raised my finger appeared to be controversial, although I was sure in my mind it was out.

Heath’s Aussie Matt O’Keeffe, in the middle of an aggressive spell, banged one in at Aaron Wyatt. He attempted a hook, the ball came off the glove and keeper Isaac Leckie took the catch.

Heath were convinced he was out - and so was I, so the finger was again raised.

Wyatt wasn’t happy and he muttered something as he went past me but it’s simple - I would not have given him out if I didn’t think it hit the glove.

The one moment I did get a bit flustered and was not as decisive as I could have been was in the first innings. Centurion Leckie was facing Cook and he played the ball straight into the floor and foot it ballooned into the air back to the bowler who took the catch.

The bowler and keeper seemed convinced it had not touched the floor and it had gone straight into the foot and back to bowler.

There was no way I could be sure it had not touched the ground. But instead of being decisive and saying not out straight away, I looked at my colleague Alan and he could not see, so I then said not out.

Alan was a great colleague to have and offered me advice on how to handle a situation like that in future.

I just have to be more decisive. If I had given that decision out I would have been guessing and that’s not the way I want to be giving my decisions.

I will make mistakes - as will bowlers, batsmen and fielders - but it’s how you handle them and move on from them.

Follow @MarKSDunford (twitter) or Sussexcricketumpire (Instagram)

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