Terry Brien, Bruce Baxter, Jeff Hackett and Peter Ryan get ready for this weekend’s cricket grand final umpiring duties.
Terry Brien, Bruce Baxter, Jeff Hackett and Peter Ryan get ready for this weekend’s cricket grand final umpiring duties.

The men in the middle

TRY PLAYING a game of cricket without umpires - there would be total mayhem.

Umpires are as necessary to the game as batsmen, bowlers and fieldsmen and play an important role in ensuring fair play and the game is played in the right spirit.

It’s an unenviable job but one surprisingly local umpires all enjoy doing.

So what makes a good umpire?

If you were to ask players it would be getting every decision correct but we all know that’s a big ask - after all umpires are human just like the rest of us.

Former Premier League umpire Darren Goodger who is now employed by NSW Cricket as an umpire education and development officer knows what is required to make the grade.

“There are a number of things which makes a good umpire,” Goodger said. “You need to have the ability to apply the laws of cricket with common sense. Be consistent in your decision making and have the ability to communicate effectively.”

Goodger should know - he has umpired at a high level. In fact on the weekend he officiated the Sydney first grade qualifying final between Sutherland and Sydney University which included former test opener Phil Jaques.

Earlier in the season Clarence River Umpire Association secretary Jeff Hackett was concerned with the number of umpires available to officiate games but, fortunately for local cricketers, several past players came to the rescue.

With the grand finals to be played this weekend, six local umpires will be in the hot seat as Premier League, Second Grade and Third Grade teams battle it out for cricket supremacy. Let’s have a look at those men in the middle, the bearers of tremendous responsibilities and find out the facts on their playing careers and why they give up their weekends to stand behind the stumps for hours on end.

Jeff Hackett

  • Level: Premier League/ state badge
  • Years umpiring: 6
  • Playing history: First grade 15 years with Norths, captained Tucabia and Brothers, captained CRCA First X1 and captained North Coast side
  • Why umpire: I had success as a player and also had a desire to do well at umpiring. I enjoy it and wanted to put something back into the game. I enjoy the one-liners which pop up now and then.
  • Hardest part: Making decisions on LBWs when the ball is doing a bit off the deck and concentrating on every delivery.

Des Amos

  • Level: Premier League/ state badge
  • Years umpiring: 18
  • Playing history: First grade with Westlawn, Tucabia and South White.
  • Why umpire: Couldn’t play anymore so needed to do something and for the love of the game.
  • Hardest part: Concentrating for so long. Note: this will be the 15th time Des has umpired a First Grade grand final

Terry Brien

  • Level: Second Grade/ state badge
  • Years umpiring: 3
  • Playing history: Played at school and 20 years with Coutts Crossing where I am a life member.
  • Why umpire: For the enjoyment, three years ago they were in need of extra umpires and I thought it a good way to stay in touch with the game.
  • Hardest part: Adjudicating on leg-side decisions when the bat and pad are close together and you hear a noise.

Peter Ryan

  • Level: Second Grade/ state badge
  • Years umpiring: 5
  • Playing history: Played for Brothers for 30 years.
  • Why umpire: It’s enjoyable. I started when I was still playing and thought I’d stick with it and give it a go.
  • Hardest part: Getting the close decisions right. Making decisions in Premier League you need to be spot on. It’s easy to call wides but close decisions can test you at times.

Bruce Baxter

  • Level: Third Grade/ state badge
  • Years umpiring: 1
  • Playing history: CRCA representative and captain, played with South Services since 1973.
  • Why umpire: Had a ticket for a while and thought the time was right, have given up playing cricket except for over-40s. The association also needed help.
  • Hardest part: Concentration, I try and relax between deliveries but when the bowler starts charging in it’s time to focus. I find concentrating is more difficult after playing 18 holes of golf in the morning.

"It is rather suitable for umpires to dress like a dentist, since one of their tasks is to pull stumps."- commentator John Arlott.



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