Umpire shortage must be addressed, says Douglas
Steven Douglas, president of the Bermuda Cricket Umpires Association, has acknowledged a shortage of umpires in local cricket and called for it to be addressed by the sport’s governing body.
The past few weekends of cricket have been impacted by no umpires being appointed for certain games, including Bailey’s Bay’s match against St David’s at Sea Breeze Oval last Sunday.
With the match not likely to be rescheduled it could have a huge bearing on the title race as leaders Southampton Rangers beat Somerset to increase their lead over St David’s, with just two more rounds of matches remaining. No Premier Division games are scheduled for this weekend, with the final round to be played on July 21.
“The Board is quite aware of our shortage of umpires,” Douglas said yesterday, in the wake of the controversy over Derrick Brangman’s one-year ban for refusing to walk after being caught off a full toss that he thought should have been called a no-ball.
It has emerged that stand-in umpire Kent Gibbons did not raise his finger to confirm the dismissal.
No umpires were appointed to that match, with Gibbons officiating with Western Stars player Wayne Campbell who was standing at square leg.
“We contact the Board by Thursday afternoon at the latest so they know which teams will not have umpires for that weekend,” Douglas said.
“At the latest by Friday morning, because we try to get the schedule out to our colleagues by Thursday afternoon. The Board is well aware when we are short.”
The BCUA have about 20 umpires, but work commitments and vacation means that there is always a struggle to cover the six Premier and First Division matches.
“We can get ten or 12 on a weekend, but with people off the island sometimes we are short,” Douglas added.
Roger Dill, one of the senior umpires, is in Canada officiating in the Global T20 Tournament while Douglas will be travelling this weekend. “Some of my members are police officers which requires them to work weekends, so we don’t always have the roster that we would like,” Douglas said. “We have about 20 functioning [umpires] but we need 12 for a full slate and sometimes we can’t get it.”
Douglas admits the shortage is an ongoing concern within the umpiring ranks, although something that is not exclusive to cricket, Douglas points out, referring to the referee shortage in football, which forced the BFA to schedule certain Premier Division matches for Saturday afternoons last season.
“We work with the Board and sometimes they schedule games for a Saturday, similar to football,” said Douglas, who is also president of the Eastern Counties Cricket Association.
“We just don’t have the numbers to fulfil the need in cricket on a weekend. I will be gone for two weeks as my son [Chris, the St David’s captain] graduates next week and I will be gone for two weekends again.
“I come back on the Friday night before the first Eastern Counties game. I had the choice to come back the Saturday night of the county game, but I decided to come back the night before because I’m the president and want to be there.
“For years I haven’t taken a holiday during the summer, I try to accommodate cricket, but it is disheartening sometimes when the Board is aware there are no umpires and some of their members don’t make a conscious effort to attend the games.”
Douglas added: “We’re very reluctant to appoint just one umpire. A couple of years ago when we were doing it, if any infringement took place in a game it was one umpire against 22 players, plus the various officials of the clubs.
“We asked the Board almost ten years ago to try to find a match referee, but they haven’t been successful so far, although I know the current president [Lloyd Smith] is working on it.”
Smith serves as a match commissioner for the BFA during the football season.
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