Martin Bodenham is returning to umpiring in the Sussex Premier Cricket League after 10 years in the first class game - and he wants you to join him.
Bodenham retired from the professional game at the end of last season as he reached the maximum age for first class umpires.
And now the former Premier League football referee, in his role as president of the Sussex Association of Cricket Officials (SACO), is looking to recruit more recreational umpires to the game.
The Sussex Premier Cricket League is facing restructure for the 2017 season and this will mean 12 more umpires are needed.
The aims and objectives of the SACO is to promote in Sussex the interests of cricket officials in particular, and cricket in general in cooperation with all appropriate local bodies and national associations.
They look recruit and retain cricket officials and to provide a structured programme to meet their training needs and provide a programme to develop, improve and maintain the competence of cricket officials.
Bodenham, who lives in Ferring, said: “My main role as president is to implement all those aims and objectives, but primarily to recruit as many umpires as we possibly can and to get every game hopefully in Sussex with competent match officials.
“Recruitment is key and trying to get everybody who has not taken up membership in last four or five years to become members.
“We can then have a database of those officials and then we can implement various structures and give the appropriate appointments to relevant matches.
“We need to recruit at least another 12 umpires with the new structure of the Sussex Cricket League and that’s my theme as president to try and implement that so we get those extra officials and cover every game in the Sussex Cricket League.”
So what sort of people is Bodenham looking to recruit and what characteristics do you need to make a good umpire?
Bodenham, who has been president of SACO since it’s inception three years ago, said: “It’s not too difficult to recruit umpires. You can get them from various sources - retired players for instance. That’s probably the key. What do they do when they stop playing at maybe 40-45 years of age?
“Hopefully we can write to all the clubs, which is something have implemented in the last few season, and recruit in that particular way.
“Managing the game and managing players are the two key aspects of umpiring. And decision making is very important as well.
“But the key is managing players and managing games and not to get unnecessarily involved in the game itself.
“The game is all about players and you should only involve yourself as an umpire as and when you think it is appropriate. Let the players play the game.”
And it’s not just the players who enjoy camaraderie. Bodenham believes that’s one of the best aspects of being an umpire.
“The best thing? Camaraderie. You meet lots and lots of people and lots and lots of cricketers as well and it’s nice to have a beer afterwards and reflect on the six hours you have umpired.”
Is it important to have played the game to become an umpire?
Bodenham said: “I think it is to some extent but it’s not always the case. In the first class game we have had a couple of umpires who have made it to the very top level who have not played cricket to the highest level.
“Neil Bainton is a real pal of mine. He has been on the list for quite some time now and he started in recreational cricket and got all the way up to the first class list. He played a little bit of league cricket but not to a particularly high level.
“But gone are the days now a first class cricketer who has finished his playing career in SepteMber will go and umpire a match or go on to the main list or the reserve list of the ECB the following April. They’ve got to go through the structure and they have got to umpire league cricket.”
n If you are interested in becoming an umpire, please email SACO secretary Derek Knight on firstname.lastname@example.org
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