Umpires through the looking glass
The intention of keeping a public diary of the Loons adventures in Umpireland is to encourage other ageing grade players to sit the exam, buy a pair of black strides and take up the counter. After all, if the Loon can do it, surely anyone can.
The plan is to increase the number of umpires because the more umpires we have to choose from the better the quality of decision making. Well, thats the theory.
However, my fear is that this diary could just increase the already excessive examination of umpires and our inevitable errors. Were human, we err. Even the international umpires with all the training, yoga and mediation that money can buy regularly get it wrong and thats obvious. Well, its obvious after we thoroughly dissect their decisions in super slow motion from four camera angles with graphic stump line overlays alongside a synchronised audio snickometre inset. Truly, is there any other profession which gets more feedback? I wonder if our military leaders, who are responsible for an illegal invasion, undergo anything like the scrutiny we subject our sporting officials too. I mean, are you aware that were actually spreading depleted nuclear ordinance throughout Iraq and Afghanistan? I doubt it. Their quiet nuclear war, which has increased the instance of birth defects in Baghdad 10-fold, doesnt seem to even rate a mention. But I digress.
An umpire has about three seconds to adjudicate on something which happens in less than a quarter of a second, in the midst of a bellowing, pleading and accusatory group of one-eyed protagonists. Quite a job description, you must admit.
The thing to remember as a player is not to spend too much time worrying about what umpires do or do not do, because its something you cant control. Umpires are like the weather; they have a mind of their own and arguing with them usually has about as much effect as telling the tide not to come in or ordering the rain to stop falling.
As players, the best thing you can do, if you find yourself on the end of some ordinary decision, is to practice more and work on your own technique. In short, take the umpire out of the equation. No bowler is going to appeal for LBW if you hit the ball back past him for four. The wickets during spring are usually dry and flat and there isnt much swing at the moment either, so players who play straight, dont over balance and can deal with the pace of the local attacks should prosper. Change what you can change, and dont worry too much about what you cant.
I can assure you that as umpires we arent in the dark about players grievances. The captains put in reports after each game and the umpire trainers and executives are quick to inform us of any errors in our game management and decision making. Furthermore, the players and spectators protests are all duly noted.
All the local umpires are doing their best to concentrate fully for each of the 500 plus balls that are bowled during a Saturday afternoon. If we get it wrong, its not personal. So next time you get a rough decision, rather than bursting with indignation, ask yourself how you could have played the ball differently and be grateful its not raining nuclear waste. Yet.
For those of you who arent placated by my pleas for reason and understanding, there are other options. Like coming to Lismore Shopping Square this Saturday, October 21, where Ill be taking part in the Red Cross Jail House from 10am. You might want to come and throw something at me as payback, even if its just insults, or you can pay to keep me locked up until the end of the season.