History of the Umpires Panel
In 1995, the 25th Anniversary of the Kent League, I wrote in the Handbook about The Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers – formed in 1953 with the predominant objective of improving the Standard of Umpiring. 47 years on, there are 7,800 Members worldwide, 3,500 of whom are fully Qualified. To gain qualification requires 2 Examinations with minimum Pass Marks of 80% and 2 years field experience at a good standard of cricket, acceptable to the ACU & S. Passing Committee. 140 of those Qualified Members reside in Kent, over 40 of whom are Members of the Kent League Panel of Umpires. All Members of the Panel will be qualified by 2003.
For many years I have advocated and pursued the formation of a Kent League Umpires’ Panel. I wrote to Carl Openshaw when he was Chairman, but it was with Roger Cruttenden that the first Feasibility Study was made in 1995, some 25 years after the formation of the Kent League. An Open Meeting of Kent Umpires was held at Maidstone in November 1995, with a wide ranging discussion on the issues involved. Agreement was reached in principle to the setting up of an Umpires’ Panel for the Kent League, and a further meeting was envisaged for November 1996. However, The League Clubs voted against such a Panel, and there was no meeting of Kent Umpires in 1996.
1996-97 heralded the Raising of Standards with the arrival of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the Kent Cricket Board, and Premier Leagues. A Kent Association of Cricket Umpires & Scorers was formed, and representatives from the 7 ACU & S. Affiliations in Kent became the Committee, which in fact is also the KCB Umpires and Scorers Committee So, in 1999, 29 years after the formation of the Kent League, The Kent League Umpires’ Panel was born.
What have we achieved in our first year? Thanks to our Committee, we have a professional approach to administration, resulting in two well-attended Meetings – one with the Captains present (hopefully a regular pre-season event). We have established good communications with The League Management Committee through John Platford, and the ECB through its Operations Manager Frank Kemp, and the excellent support from the Umpires resulted in 358 of the 360 appointments being fulfilled on the field.
What was involved in our first year? - earning respect, changing attitudes, understanding, coping with pressure, and building confidence. Many of the Umpires were new to this level of cricket, and with the Captains had to learn and interpret the new 2-day Playing Regulations. In addition, part of the Captains’ learning curve was marking the overall performance of the Umpires on the field. Generally, the overall performance was satisfactory, as was decision-making.
Putting pressure on Umpires is said to be part of the game; however, I do not believe it to be Compulsory! The game can still be competitive without sledging, and an improvement in the behaviour of some players will make the game more satisfying for all those taking part.
What next for Season 2000? - having confidence in our ability to work in partnership with the Captains, to Raise the Standards of the cricket in which we are engaged.
It is also the last season with the present Laws of Cricket, which have been applied since 1980. The 2001 season will see the introduction of the revised/rewritten Laws. Therefore this will mean another learning period, and it is essential that players and officials alike should make every effort to attend Seminars/Courses, which will be arranged and run by the ACU & S. throughout the County during the winter months of 2000/2001.
Kent Association of Cricket Umpires & Scorers.