Smith: I feared for my safety
Cricket umpire Bobby Smith feared for his safety during last Sunday’s abandoned Premier match at Devonshire Recreation Club.
The 44-year-old father of three walked off the field during the match between hosts –Devonshire and Willow Cuts –after being subjected to threatening remarks he claims to have come from the visitors’ dressing room.
Smith came under fire after giving Cuts’ stalwart Reggie Tucker Jr out lbw just moments before colleague Lester Harnett who was subjected to verbal abuse from Cuts’ all-rounder Deunte Darrell decided to abandon the match in his absence.
Darrell was due to appear before a Bermuda Cricket Board (BCB) disciplinary committee last night along with team mate Chris Douglas who showed dissent (kicking down the stumps) after the match was abandoned.
Having witnessed a physical confrontation involving players and umpires at the same venue earlier this season, Smith thought it best to bail out after being subjected to what amounted to threats.
“Before anything else happened I thought it was best to leave.
“I was shocked but not surprised because unfortunately this type of behaviour is on the incline,” he said.
“The verbal abuse definitely came from the area where the Willow Cuts’ changing room was. I tried to ignore it as best I could.
“Firstly, I was trying to ignore all the other shouts, insults and cursing and then when I heard that (threatening remarks) that was it because I’ve seen potential violence rear its head down there before.
“I was actually at the game when the other umpires (James McKirdy and Hector Watson) were assaulted.”
Smith claims that antisocial behaviour is discouraging people from wanting to become a cricket umpire.
“How can you persuade someone to give up their time, even though they may love the game, to be subjected to everything they see and read about cricket?” he said. “It’s hard to get someone to umpire and right now we are scraping the bottom of the barrel.
“Guys are tired of this sort of behaviour because it’s just not cricket.
“You give up all your free time to go out there for the love of the game but some players are showing a blatant disregard and disrespect towards the umpires.
“It’s like they don’t come to play cricket, they come there to release or vent their problems with life and I think it’s unfortunate.
“Every week we meet to hash over the state of cricket and try and better our training to better ourselves as umpires and it’s just thankless when we go out there and try and ply our trade and these guys disrespect us.
“I have to study and brush up on the laws every single week and this is the thanks I get.”
In the wake of last weekend’s incident Smith has been urged to quit umpiring by his family who fear for his safety in the current social climate.
“They fear for my safety because the social infrastructure in Bermuda has broken down so much and violence has crept into sport,” he said.”
“These guys are really taking the country by siege.”
Yet despite his family’s concerns the self-employed electrician has vowed to continue umpiring after he takes a “slight break” from standing in the middle.
“I am going to take a sabbatical but I will definitely still be affiliated with the umpires association,” he declared.
Smith has also ruled out taking legal action against Cuts players who allegedly confronted him at the match between Bailey’s Bay and St David’s at Sea Breeze Oval following the abandoned match at Devonshire Rec.