Umpiring

One of the trickier aspects of mid-week cricket is that the players (well, members of the batting side, to be more specific) have to act as umpires. Even though most people try their hardest, this often ends up being a bit of a debacle, with dubious decisions, pressure from other players, lack of knowledge of the Laws, and absent-mindedness all playing a role.

In an attempt to try and lift the standard of umpiring, Geoff Hales produced the following set of notes in 2006, which has subsequently been augmented as a result of Russell Woolf attending an "umpiring clinic" at Milton in 2009. These notes are far from exhaustive, but if we all memorize everything below and apply it during the games then things will probably run a lot more smoothly than they sometimes do (although the match reports might contain fewer amusing anecdotes as a result).

Implicit in the above is that all our umpires (Remnants and opposition alike) will make mistakes. Sometimes it'll just be a missed wide or no ball, but sometimes it'll be giving a batsman out LBW when the ball pitched six inches outside leg stump. And while it's worth trying as hard as possible to avoid these instances, it's even more important to take whatever decision is made in good grace. If you're "triggered" having hit the ball onto your pad then, in the end, you're as out as if you'd been bowled; or if a batsman is given "not out" after edging to second slip, he's as in as if he'd smashed a no ball for six.

Notes for umpires

  1. Think for a moment before giving any decision, and give "out" only if you are in no doubt. Don't discuss your decision or try to justify it. You can change your mind, but if you do, do so promptly and not because of any pressure from anyone: you are the umpire.
  2. It is the umpire's responsibility to determine whether the game should continue, although the two captains' opinions are also relevant. If it is dangerous or unreasonable to play then the umpires should stop play (possibly temporarily). If it is unsuitable to play (e.g., muddy ground) then play can continue if both captains are happy to do so. Importantly, this decision now rests with the umpires (and the captains); there is no "offering the light" to the batsmen as was the case case until a few years ago. If the conditions are suitable for play then the game should continue regardless of the captains' wishes.
  3. Stand where you can see best, without getting in the players' way. At the bowler's end you need to be able to see where the bowler's feet land. After the ball has been been either hit or left by the batsman, move a short distance away square of the wicket so you can make any line decisions. At square leg you should be about twenty yards back. Remember to count the deliveries so you can advise your colleague. If the ball bounces so high that it could be a no-ball, advise your colleague by raising one arm (but don't call "no ball"; it is the bowler's end umpire's decision).
  4. If there is an LBW appeal ask yourself the following questions before making your decision:
    1. Where did the ball pitch? If outside the line of leg stump, it can't be out.
    2. Where did the ball strike the batsman? If outside the line of off-stump, was he playing a shot? If so, it can't be out. Note that it is irrelevant that the ball might have pitched outside off-stump.
    3. Did the ball hit the bat first? If so, it can't be out.
    4. Would the ball have gone on to hit the stumps? If there is signficant doubt then it should be "not out". (This is the trickiest thing to get right: if the ball hits the batsman above the knee-roll then there is a good chance the ball is going over the stumps; if the batsman is a yard forward and hit in front of middle, the ball need only deviate three inches over the ten feet remaining to pass beside the stumps. The possible conviction of the fielding side's appeal should not come into consideration here, only what you think the ball would have done.)
    If you are not sure about any of these points, it's not out.
  5. The square leg umpire can call no-ball for a throw (i.e., a straightening of the arm at the moment of delivery) only; and don't call this unless you're absolutely sure.
    The bowler's end umpire should watch for the position of the bowler's feet. The back foot must be entirely within and not touching the return crease (the line near the edge of the pitch); the front foot must not be entirely over the front line on landing (though it need not be grounded).
  6. Bouncers going over the batsman's head (standing upright) are no-balls. Repeated legal bouncers likely to cause injury can also be called no-balls. Fast full tosses or beamers passing above waist height (defined as the waist of the batsman, not the waist-band of the trousers). Slower deliveries passing over shoulder height are also no-balls. You can check the height with your colleague at square leg (if he's awake and not lost pondering how he got out first ball a few minutes earlier) but the square leg umpire should not make the call. Maybe more difficult is the distinction between "fast" and "slow" bowling; according to the professional umpires anyone who isn't a spinner should be regarded as "fast"; however even this isn't very satisfactory, so the umpire must use their judgement in the end.
  7. The bowler must deliver the ball where the batsman can hit it; if it's out of reach from the batsman normal guard position then it's a wide. Note that it's not a wide if the batsman can't reach it because he's been playing silly buggers by moving around on the crease, and neither is it a wide if he's moved to bring the ball within reach but misses it anyway. The most important thing to remember is to be consistent.
    And note that a batsman can be out stumped or hit wicket off a wide (as distinct from a no-ball).
  8. To make his ground a batsman must have his bat or person grounded behind the crease.
  9. Do not allow leg-byes if the batsman has made no attempt to hit the ball (unless he was trying to avoid the ball altogether) and instead call "dead ball" and send the batsmen back, but only after allowing the batsman to run (as they can still be run out). The correct signal for a leg bye is just to tap your raise leg; do not make a "bye" signal by raising your arm. On the subject of run outs, it is the batsman closest to the broken wicket who is out. If they have both made their ground at the other end, it used to be whoever got to safety last, but now it is whoever left the wicket that was broken.
  10. Take charge of the match ball at the fall of a wicket and at any other intervals.
  11. Signal clearly to the scorer, and wait for an acknowledgement from her (or him) before allowing the game to continue.