Anyway, at the start of this campaign I thought I would conduct an experiment. I had read an anecdote about an English umpire who would take a note of every dismissal he gave, and thought this would be an interesting thing to do. So, at the beginning of the season I took my notepad and drew up a little table in which to note dismissals. I had to create a few rules to start with- for example, I would only include those decisions where I had to give a player out. If he walked or it was patently obvious the batsman was out, I would not write it down. In this way it gave a fairer reflection of what I actually had to do. Furthermore, I only took record of proper games- Club and Schools cricket- and not things like the Indian T20 competition or House games at school. This meant the standard was of a decent level.
As the season went on, I kept an eye on how the numbers were going. The two main ones were caught behind and LBW, with run out and stumped less prevalent. When I could tell fellow umpires that I had already given, say, 12 LBW decisions for the season, they were quite shocked. However, I told them, if you keep track of them, you'd be surprised how quickly they tally up. I certainly wasn't firing them and I felt like I was giving a lot more close ones not out than out. Which goes to show how interesting this exercise was.
Anyway, I had reached the last day of the club season that I was free to umpire, when I tallied up the number of dismissals I had given. I was surprised to find that I was on 49, a rather unfortunate score in cricket terms- I didn't want to be left stranded. 24 of them were LBW decisions, so one more LBW would give me a nice round 50%. It was not to be however, and at the end of the day I was still stuck on 49. Since it would be nice closure, I tried to umpire a school game for a little while the next weekend, but the whole day was rained off. It seemed fate wanted to leave me 49 not out.
Then on Friday I got a call, asking if I could possibly stand on Sunday on the second day of a promotion/relegation match for Prem Reserves, between Parnell and Papatoetoe. Finally I had my chance- although I don't mean this in a spiteful way at all, and I accepted the offer for other reasons than this alone. So I turned up on Sunday, to the news that 16 wickets had already fallen- which suggested I would indeed get my chance. As it happened, within 9 overs in the morning, the last 4 wickets of the Paptoetoe innings fell- at the other end. Nothing much was going on from my end at all.
Perhaps a change of ends might help? Of course now the game situation was different- the side batting for its second time simply needed to bat out the rest of the day- if there weren't any more wickets, there was a real possibility of an early finish. As it turned out, I didn't get a half decent shout for quite a long time. Wickets did start to fall, but I still didn't have to give a single decision. In an effort to break through, Papatoetoe brought back their gun strike bowler, who had taken a 5-for in the first innings.
He had bowled one batsman earlier from my end, and soon put a yorker through the defences of another. Still no work for me! Finally- an appeal for LBW! But since he was bowling away swingers to the left hander on strike, it was going to be difficult to pitch one on line and have it go on to hit. He was bowling mighty quick though, and had three successive appeals- none of which was close to being out. Then finally he slipped a full yorker in; the batsman tried to clamp down on it, but his boot got in the way. It struck him just inside the line of leg stump, going on to smash middle stump. I gave it a long, hard look and finally raised the finger.
I had finally raised my half century! When I told the batsman at tea, he jokingly said it was an honour to be my fiftieth victim of the season. By that stage the game was meandering to a draw, Parnell over a hundred ahead with wickets in hand and there weren't enough overs left to chase it. Of course, the Papatoetoe
|Thank God For These!|
Fortunately the game did not last much longer. The light was not good enough for quick bowlers, and the spinners were getting smashed. Parnell were thinking of declaring so they could try to bring on their fast bowlers and have the game called off for bad light. Eventually the Papatoetoe captain agreed to go off. Of course by that stage, the batsman had clobbered enough sixes to be nearing a hundred, so he said he wanted to keep going. Then the Papatoetoe captain said he would bring on his fast bowlers so we would go off. A bit of hypocrisy, no? In the end, the game finished rather farcically and we all walked off the field feeling a bit cheated. Ironically, within about five minutes of doing so, it began to pour down torrentially.
I went back home and put my thigh on ice. You could see the red marks the spiral binding of my pad had made on it. It hasn't bruised too much but is quite red and very sore to touch. I've got a bit of a limp at the moment, but I'm sure that won't last long. Thankfully it's the end of the season though- I'm retiring hurt!