Umpiring on the rise in the Capital

Cricket is reliant on umpires and officials at all levels of the game, and the 2020/21 summer has been another successful season of growth for umpiring in Wellington.

There are now 37 active club and college umpires in the Capital alongside 28 prospective umpires and 20 active Last Man Stands umpires.

There has been strong growth in the women’s space where, for the first time, premier women’s cricket had considerable coverage of umpires, with six rounds of play covered, as well as the Maureen Peters T20 final between Wellington Collegians and Hutt District.

There were also significant developments in the men’s senior division one and two competitions. 96% of all matches played this summer had one umpire standing, up from 85% last summer, while 66% of matches had two umpires standing, up from just 25% last summer.

Cricket Wellington head of community cricket Matt Wills said the growth was a byproduct of an increased investment from Cricket Wellington into the development of umpires in the region.

“This summer we’ve made significant investments in the umpire space, both in developing the skillset of our umpires, but also by attracting new umpires through strong communication with our stakeholders and dedicated marketing campaigns across the summer,” he said.

“These initiatives have really helped us position umpiring as a genuine option for fans of cricket and sport in general and we see umpiring as a genuine opportunity for individuals of from all walks of life.”

While the number of umpires currently standing in Cricket Wellington’s competitions has been pleasing, there has also been increased investment in umpire development.

In February, 180 student umpires took part in the college umpire training programme led by Cricket Wellington Umpires and Scorers Regional Training Officer Jeremy Busby.

This programme aimed to educate and develop prospective umpires and these students acted as player umpires in Cricket Wellington competitions as and where required.

Cricket Wellington also delivered a female-only umpire evening and a junior-only umpire evening, aimed at developing umpires already engaged in those spaces.

“It’s all about developing people and providing them with the knowledge and resource to develop their skills and hopefully go on to be umpires for a long period of time,” said Wills.

“We’re hugely grateful to our major sponsor for umpiring RobLawMax Recruitment whose support enables us to provide these development opportunities, as well as the little things that make a big difference, like official umpiring shirts and hats which we have introduced this summer.”

This summer has also seen success at the top level, as local Wellington umpire Cory Black made his first-class umpiring debut in the Plunket Shield match between the Wellington Firebirds and Northern Districts at Bay Oval in March.

Jeremy Busby’s tireless efforts in developing umpires in the region was also recognised as he was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution to Cricket accolade at last month’s New Zealand Cricket Community awards.

While cricket takes a break for winter, the work to develop our umpires will continue with an off-season training programme between New Zealand Cricket, Cricket Wellington and Cricket Wellington Umpires and Scorers scheduled.

There are also plans to develop a player behaviour campaign which will be delivered in partnership with key members of the Wellington cricket community.

Article added: Tuesday 04 May 2021