Followers of the SMMC Cricket Section may be aware that the Club’s Cricket Section boasts four England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) qualified umpires in Simon Oakley (Sussex League), Keith Edwards (Hampshire Cricket League), Peter Starkey (Southern Electric Premier Cricket League – SEPCL) and Ian Bagshaw also of SEPCL. Simon gained his Certificates of Competency via Warsash and worked for RFA and latterly P & O Ferries, both Peter and Ian were lecturers at Warsash and Keith is currently General Manager of Gosport Ferries.
What they are unlikely to know is that Ian, an A* grade umpire of many years standing in the SEPCL, was honoured to be selected by the Panel, following a request to the Panel from the England Team Management, to stand in an authentic ‘on field’ practice under International Cricket Conference (ICC) Rules of Play, by the England team at the Ageas (formerly Rose) Bowl on Thursday 14 June. That he was thrilled to bits to be so honoured must be one of the understatements of the year. Peter decided that he would go along for the experience from the inside so to speak and proved to be useful as custodian and deliverer of cricket balls as and when required.
Here is Ian Bagshaw’s personal account of his momentous day:
We were met by Tim Tremlett who arranged for Terry ‘The Bell’ to take us to the umpires’ room and thence to the players dining room for a spot of lunch and arranged for coloured shirts and coats, as white balls were to be used, to be delivered to our dressing room.
About three quarters of an hour before the scheduled start of the practice we went to the England dressing room to find out how things were to be conducted. Andy Flower was the first person spoken to and he was as ‘nice as pie’. Ritchie, alias ‘Stick’, the coach in charge of the practice, explained the format for the afternoon. This was to be several 6 over sessions to simulate various parts of an innings, ‘start’, ‘death’ and two ‘middle’ sessions to each include one Power Play over. The bowlers contested the batsmen who had been set targets which rose as wickets fell. We had merely to umpire the play and manage the sessions with the players knowing the targets in the overs available.
After pre-match discussions with the England officials the practice proceeded under an overcast sky. That the leaden sky wasn’t dropping copious precipitation was a minor miracle and the Almighty favoured us all afternoon, the first light drops appearing as we left the field at the end.
Before the start Alastair Cook, the overall captain with Stuart Broad the first fielding captain, and several of the players made a point of coming across and introducing themselves and thanking us for being there. During the practice those in close proximity were happy to chat without interfering with either their or our job in hand.
I had the privilege of starting proceedings from the Pavilion End with Jimmy Anderson as bowler. One wide was soon on the board though that was pretty well it for the rest of the afternoon and I don’t recollect my colleague having one at all. Jimmy and all the slip and close field went up for LBW; fortunately I’d detected an inside edge so was unable to dismiss the England captain. I say ‘fortunate’ as I’d noted how little time there was between observing the landing of the feet for no balls and flicking up the eyes to pick up the ball; I’m not certain that I actually saw the first impact well enough to have been able to adjudicate in the bowler’s favour had it been Alastair’s person. Jimmy politely and quietly enquired as to the reason for turning down the appeal and nodded his agreement.
Steven Finn opened at the Northern End and he bowled significantly shorter than Jimmy, with the ball passing the striker well over stump height. By this time my colleague and I had realised what they meant when they said that the practice was going to be fully competitive; no quarter was expected or given. One illustration from a later session: Ravi Bopara at short extra cover misthrew the ball to the ‘keeper, it going off to third man and the batsmen took a single. The bowler, Graham Swann, told Ravi in no uncertain terms that if he did that again he’d “cut both his ears off”.
Once we’d got that first session under our belts, it was much easier for me with Jade Dernbach bowling instead of Jimmy Anderson, and both umpires commented that it got a bit easier as we adapted to the standards facing us. The second lesson, for me anyway, was to realise how much more quickly the bowler’s end umpire has to make a decision as to the side to which he is going to move and also the speed needed to get to my target of ten paces from the wicket to be able to adjudicate on run out possibilities. The ten paces wasn’t always possible as the fielders move so quickly. My colleague had the only run out of the afternoon and with the ‘yes, no, sorry’ scenario that transpired there was half a pitch length in it as both batsmen advanced a fair way down the pitch.
I think that I’d be dead now had I not upheld an appeal for LBW from Graham Swann against Eoin Morgan. Ravi Bopara, in the last session of the practice bowled four foot fault no balls on the trot though, rightly or wrongly as it was a practice and I didn’t want to be instrumental in demoralising Ravi, I chose not to call the third, the free hits having been smashed around the ground conceding a lot of runs. Alastair Cook, the non striker, said that he could be a bit of a problem and commented, pleasantly, on the one that I didn’t call.
Paul had the last interesting call to make as the batsmen were again about to beat the bowlers as Stuart Broad bowled a high full pitched ball. A quick glance across to me confirmed the no ball and there was barely a split second between the ball passing the striker and the call of no ball so that it must have appeared seamless. Good teamwork!
After the first couple of overs in the first session, which was a huge learning curve for both of us, I think that we conducted ourselves to everyone’s satisfaction. That Tim Tremlett, on behalf of Giles White, had requested two more umpires to be provided by the Panel for a Hampshire Twenty/20 practice this coming Sunday, speaks well enough of our performance; at the two hour stage anyway. Only Ravi disputed anything, one of the no balls called, the whole of the session being easier to administer than any league matches in which I’ve been involved over recent times.
It was a privilege and honour to be there and we can only thank the Panel’s committee for choosing the way we were selected. We were the lucky ones and with these notes hope to pass on a bit of the thrill, experience and learning of the afternoon. It’s a day I’ll never forget.