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Shortage of umpires affecting local game

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A couple of matches last weekend were without umpires as the new cricket season started with a full slate of Premier Division and First Division matches.

With just one new umpire joining their ranks, the Bermuda Cricket Umpires Association accepts that some matches may not have officials assigned this season.

Last weekend the BCUA struggled to assign officials to every ground as One 50 Overs league matches were held on Saturday and Sunday in the two divisions.

“The general consensus is we've had problems with umpires from the day I started in 1997, so we've always had a shortage of umpires,” said Steven Douglas on Tuesday, hours before being replaced as president of the BCUA by James McKirdy at its AGM.

“About eight or nine years ago we had a ‘crazy Sunday' and we stopped umpiring games by ourselves, so we're not going to send out one umpire by himself.

“It takes a lot out of an umpire to do a game by himself, doing both ends. It's very strenuous.”

It is a problem that the Bermuda Cricket Board is aware of.

“It is the responsibility of the cricket committee to make sure the umpires have enough staff to do our games,” Lloyd Smith, the Bermuda Cricket Board president, said on Tuesday.

“Up to the start of the season we had a lot of communication with the umpires association and they assured us they had enough umpires. The majority of our umpires are police officers and shift workers, so guaranteeing they are off on a Saturday and Sunday isn't something I can control.

“The umpires association had two umpiring courses this off-season and only attracted one umpire. I wouldn't say a lack of interest, but rather having to donate a whole day compared to a referee who is out there for approximately 90 minutes.”

Douglas estimates there are 20 to 22 active umpires to cover weekend games, before work commitments and vacation time shortens the number of those available on a given weekend.

“One guy who would normally be available was away last weekend, a couple of others worked, so we just wish that people who are really interested will come out and do it,” he said.

“We can do a quick course to bring them up to scratch. We can't force people [to become umpires]; it's a tough job to do and you are sacrificing a whole Saturday or whole Sunday.

“It is something you have to want to do and have to like it. It's not for everybody.

“We have politely asked the board for many years to try to get match referees to assist us and there hasn't been any movement on that. We're working with the board to try to make things work. It can only get better.”

No umpires were assigned for the Premier Division match on Sunday between St George's and Cleveland, leaving Wendell Smith, the St George's coach, and Cleveland official Courtney Trott to stand in as umpires. The Somerset Bridge and Willow Cuts match on Saturday also did not have umpires assigned.

“Because the Somerset and Devonshire Rec game did not come off, the two umpires who were assigned there ended up going down to the game between Southampton Rangers and Flatts,” Douglas added. “We try to cover Premier Division games as much as possible but also we try to be fair to all clubs because all clubs pay [their fees] and we have to be fair to everybody.”

Douglas insists the shortage of umpire in Bermuda is not a unique situation. “It's a tough situation worldwide, everybody is struggling with officials,” he said.

This weekend there are less games because of the first round of the Central Counties between champions Tuff Dogs and Western Stars, as well as the league match between St David's and St George's, which was rescheduled from last Saturday.

? Roger Dill was returned as vice-president of the BCUA with Melvin Best back as secretary. Emmerson Carrington remains as assistant secretary and Oscar Andrade as treasurer.

Wendell Smith was forced to fill in as an umpire because of a shortage as his team St George's beat Cleveland in their season-opener last weekend (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)
Local umpires Roger Dill, Steven douglas and Melvin Best

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Published May 16, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 16, 2019 at 12:44 am)

Shortage of umpires affecting local game

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