Every time we go to a game to umpire or score or just to watch, there are things we might do or see others do that we think that have worked really well and may be worth trying out to see if they might help us be better at what we are doing.
The following “good ideas” were first shared at a seminar in June 2019 and we plan to add more as we see and discuss them. They are not designed to be things everyone should be doing all the time, but if you like the sound of them, why not try them out for yourself?
If you have other good ideas that you do or have seen that are not listed here, then please send them to the secretary, Peter Sawyer, for inclusion on the list.
1. The pre-toss meetings (Part 1): After a few weeks of the season, the pre-toss discussion can become a bit predictable and captains basically know what you’re going to say. An alternative way of looking at this is to ask the captains to tell you what they expect of the game and what we might expect of them. Try this when you meet with the scorers too!
2. Pre-Toss Meetings (Part 2): Whatever approach you take, don’t make it a lecture! Remember, Gloucestershire scorers are well-trained and many hugely experienced, so umpires certainly don’t need to lecture them.
3. Where is the DLS score shown? When scorers and umpires meet before the game, check where it’s going to be displayed and what it is that is being shown. Is it the par score or the target score? It’s important that umpires, scorers and captains all know this before the game begins.
4. Using radios: Don’t be afraid to use them. You only need one set to help that communication between umpires and scorers.
5. Before the game, umpires check that you can see the scorers’ signals: This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised the effects of shadow and bright sunlight can have on seeing the acknowledgements. Is it a light, a hand-wave or a paddle? Check from the middle before you start (and maybe even use your radios to confirm). Two checks in one.
6. First and final warnings for dangerous non-pitching deliveries: To improve consistency, GACUS has recommended umpires use an imaginary rectangle from the waist to a foot above the head and roughly 18 inches from the body on each side. This box will move with the batsman. But before the game, try and agree with your colleague about how you might implement this guidance, particularly in relation to slower balls. The law says it is an umpire’s judgement as to whether it’s dangerous, but captains and players appreciate a common interpretation. If it’s agreed that every full pitched ball in the box is dangerous (and therefore a warning), let the captains know your interpretation at the toss.
7. Handing over the pitch at the end of the over: Again, for most umpires, this is common practice within GACUS, but not used by everyone and not always when standing with a colleague from another county. So agree on this before the game.
8. Completing the record card: Players and captains worried about over rates get irritated if they have to wait for umpires to complete paperwork before getting into position. Something to try is to only complete the card every other over after you’ve called over at bowler’s end while waiting to hand over the pitch. That way when over is called, the striker’s end umpire can just focus on getting to the stumps and mentally preparing for the next six balls.
9. Moving to striker’s end position: It’s not a bad idea to walk backwards to your position. You can continue to see everything and possibly hear things better too.
10. Checking the scores: In a close game, it is worth taking time in the last five overs to check with the scorers that a) they both agree on the score and b) it is shown correctly on the scoreboard before the next over starts. Radios are the best option here, but it’s important to get it right beforehand.
11. Agreement on the spare balls: Make sure the visiting captain sees the spare balls before the toss and when choosing the replacement ball, it is better if both umpires agree this together close to the pitch.
12. The Weather: Try and avoid talking to the captains about what you might do. If you suggest you may or may not play in light rain, it can set an expectation that cannot be judged until it becomes a reality, so best not to create that expectation in the first place.
13. One for the over: Where the regulations allow one ball per over above shoulder-height, when the time comes to signal by tapping your shoulder, just walk forward to the stumps and show the signal to the bowler and then repeat it to the batsman. By walking forward everyone will be aware that this has happened.
14. Feedback: Finally, no matter how experienced any of us may be, from time to time we may become aware of a bad habit we’ve got into or perhaps a new technique/idea we want to try. Before the game, share this with your colleague and ask them for some feedback. They may be reluctant for a variety of reasons, but it’s worth asking. Also, it would be worth reciprocating in offering feedback to them if it would prove helpful.