Fears for the future of the game have been expressed unless more umpires can be attracted to Huddersfield cricket.
Only 46 are in place right now for the 2017 Drakes League season , with 18 ‘club umpires’ to help out in second XI cricket.
Disregarding holidays, illness and other absences, it means first XI matches can be staffed by the Umpires Association, plus games in the top flight of the second XI competition.
But the Drakes League and Umpires Association are keen to get many more people involved because of the dwindling number of officials in recent years.
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And clubs have been put at the forefront in a bid to attract more cricket enthusiasts, former players and supporters to take up white-coat duties.
Umpires chairman David Haikings explained: “Numbers have fluctuated in recent years, with people leaving for numerous reasons, but we are an ageing association and, over the next few years, very few of our number will be left to take charge of games.
“That’s a worrying situation when no-one is coming through to replace the umpires who are currently on the list.
“We do need more people coming into umpiring and we can help anyone who wants to give it a try.
“There is help available in-house for people who want to give it a go and, for those who think they might want to progress and do more formal qualifications, there are courses available which are subsidised by the league.”
Drakes officials will stress at the pre-season Captain’s Meeting that matchday discipline must improve.
It’s been found that general abuse of umpires is one of the main reasons cited by people for not wanting to get involved.
Some sources feel the £37 fee for a Drakes League match is too low, with perhaps a meritocracy helping to promote engagement.
Clubs have been asked to sound out any potential umpires, but also to make it clear to captains and coaches that improved discipline will be the focus next summer.
“We need people to give umpiring a go, gain experience and qualifications if they want to and, like many others have done, discover that it’s something they can genuinely enjoy,” added Haikings.
“Help can be provided every step of the way, people will be placed alongside experienced umpires for mentoring in the first instance and we can provide any guidance that’s needed.”
Appeals have previously gone unheeded about training to be an umpire, although a Level One course is being run at Broad Oak in the New Year by Gary Rank.
More basic training can be handled by local umpires.
Umpires secretary Ron Tindall added: ”We have 50 names on the panel all together, but four of those established umpires don’t know yet about their availability.
“We have the club umpires, some of whom are willing to do matches away from home, or matches which don’t involve their club, but we do need more people.
“Our message is simple – give it a go because you may well find you enjoy it very much.”
Tindall can be contacted on 01484 664002 or 07860 137162 for more information, and clubs are being contacted again about the umpiring situation and are encouraged to get people involved.
The Umpires Association will organise further courses if necessary.