Northern Ireland Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers

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Musing about 2016 and beyond. PLOH. Jan. 2016.

The umpires have called Time on 2015 and rung the bell(s) for 2016. So what can we expect ?

On the face of it - not a lot. We have become accustomed to promotion opportunities for those who make the grade inside our own and the ICC Europe system.

For years, under the vision and inspirational leadership of Richard Holdsworth (now using those same energies for C.I.) , we had a European Elite panel, a European panel and a European Probationer panel. We had lots of European tournaments, and we even achieved equal status for scorers within this whole system. ICC Europe, probably set the standard for excellence throughout all the regions of world cricket. For us here in NIACUS and Ireland generally, these panels were the carrot to attract people into umpiring and scoring, and it certainly paid dividends for our cricket, by raising the general standards of officiating in all the Provincial Unions.

As we look forward to 2016, it seems that ICC Europe is withering on the vine.

In the last few years, tournament after tournament has been axed. The Probationer panel has gone - so no pathway for the up and coming umpires. Scorers only go to the tournaments that remain, if that country finances it - which mostly they do not. The new A&A umpires` panel is shrinking to match the many fewer opportunities to officiate. I visited the ICC Europe web site recently and found a largely moribund piece of work with nothing new to read.

But I did find that it claims to have a Cricket committee !. That committee was dissolved several years ago, and many of the names listed have no connection now whatsoever with ICC Europe.

So, what now ? Well, it seems clear to me that this gaping hole needs to be filled.

There is a big responsibility on IACUS to step into the breach, and in partnership with C.I. establish new and attractive development opportunities for umpires and scorers.

C.I. has a crucial role here. It has rightly set out on a very ambitious pathway for it future cricketing aspiration, but this must include raising the standard of officiating at the same time.

We will need proper financing. (Governing Bodies take note). We must organise many more umpire exchanges, not just internally but externally as well, like we have with Scotland for example.

We should 'think outside the box' a bit more. Why not have - for example - all the Provincial Unions` Senior Cup finals officiated by top umpires from another Union. In other words a proper neutral and merit based system for the appointment of umpires.

The same goes for C.I.`s interprovincial matches. Attaining a place on a C.I. panel for these matches will have to be a replacement for the now largely irrelevant Europe panel, for us in Ireland.

To continue to raise our standards generally, we must have a clear pathway for promotion and as an incentive to all our aspiring officials.

I hope all the foregoing will stimulate a response from our readership. Editor Alex Adams would love to get people writing in and debating all sorts of cricketing matters, and I heartily agree with him. Be as critical or controversial as you like - anything is better than lethargy !

PLOH. January 2016.