View from 22

Russell Evans, B3’s Commercial Director, is a former professional cricketer and now an ECB Reserve List Umpire. This issue, he has asked his colleague George Sharp to tell us a little bit about the umpiring life. George stood in 15 Tests and 31 ODIs and is still a first-class umpire.

He writes:
When I finished my playing career in 1985 after 20 years in the game I went into the world of business thinking I would not miss the game. After seven years I realised I was wrong! So I applied to go on the First Class Umpires List in September 1991.

Thinking that it would take a number of years for me to be accepted, I never really expected to receive a phone call in the October saying I had been selected to join the First Class Umpires List for the following season, 1992.

After accepting the invitation, I decided I’d better do something about getting to know the laws of the game. I went on an umpiring course at my old club Northamptonshire during that winter – and I could not believe that after 20 years in the professional game that I did not know anything of the Laws of Cricket!

I am one of only three umpires who have had a flyer, going straight on to the panel without having to go on the reserve list (the other two being John Hampshire and Barrie Leadbeater). My first game was at the Parks (Oxford) between OUCC and Durham CCC who, like myself, were making their first-class debut.

Was I nervous standing in my first game? I can honestly say no. In fact, the hardest part of the game was sorting out where to put the bowlers’ sweaters, as I had never worn an umpire’s coat, and until this match I had not stood in the middle at any level! This would not happen these days as anyone who applies for the Panel would have to have taken the exam and stood in a number of matches. You could say I was lucky.

I am also old school and believe there’s far too much technology coming into the game. Run outs, stumpings and bump balls is enough. Let’s not have technology making all the decisions. The game needs decision makers as much as players.

Finally, the best words of advice I ever received were from David Constant. He simply said to me, ‘George, give what you see and do not guess.’ Going into my final season I only hope I enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed the last 24 seasons. I can honestly say I can not think of a better job, watching the game you love from 22 yards away.

To all fellow umpires and players – winter well.

George Sharp