That’s why an umpires course is being run in Huddersfield.
Former Yorkshire and England batsman, turned county and Test umpire John Hampshire, will be running the course in conjunction with Huddersfield’s Stuart Jakeman, himself a county second team umpire for more than 25 years, in a venture supported by both the Drakes League and the Huddersfield Umpires Association.
It will be a fantastic opportunity for anyone to gain Level 2 honours which then qualifies the holder to umpire in League and Cup competitions throughout the country.
And qualified umpires are something that not just Huddersfield, but many, many other areas in the country are absolutely screaming out for.
The course will be held at Elland Cricket Club’s Baines Hall, on the weekend of November 1 and 2 and is of eight hours duration – four hours each day.
On Saturday the course runs from 1pm to 5pm followed by a further four hours on Sunday morning. Following lunch, those attending will have the opportunity to sit the ECB Level 2 examination (although that, of course, is optional), which takes just over an hour.
It will be one of the first Level 2 courses run by the ECB following the formation of the ECB ACO (Association of Cricket Officials) earlier this year.
“We desperately need some qualified umpires, and I would urge anyone interested to get themselves down for this course in November,” said Jakeman.
“I want to appeal to some of those guys, who are perhaps approaching 40, and are never going to be first-team cricketers. Those are the sort of people we need to get interested.
“But really the course is open to anyone at all, even people who are still playing but may think of taking up umpiring in a year or two’s time.
“This course with Hampshire will not necessarily be an annual event, and the Level 2 qualification is not just for now, but can be for later.”
A couple of years back, Hampshire and Jakeman ran a Level 1 course at Elland, when 16 people passed a simple test, but although serving as an introduction to umpiring it did not constitute an official ECB qualification to umpire in the League.
“I’ve already had a number of those people on that course contact me with regards coming to this one, and Bradford League players like Andrew Bairstow (son of ex-Yorkshire keeper David) and Matthew Doidge, a former member of Yorkshire’s staff, have also said they will be coming along.
“But I’m not really bothered where they come from, so long as they turn up,” added Jakeman.
The Huddersfield Umpires Association have run courses over the winter for the past few years at Broad Oak, but they have met with very limited success, and few people have emerged to join the dwindling list of umpires.
“The ECB have recognised that many people have in the past found it difficult to attend a winter training course for up to 10 weeks, and now hope the new streamlined format will prove more attractive to both current and potential umpires,” confirmed the Drakes League’s executive secretary Trevor Atkinson.
“The Huddersfield Umpires Association have given their support to the course and hope both existing League and club umpires, plus potential new umpires, take time to attend.”
Several umpires and others from the Halifax League have expressed an interest in joining the course which, hopefully, may attract some desperately-needed new officials and halt the decline which threatens the future of the game.
The cost of the two-day course at Elland, including a light lunch and cost of the examination is expected to be around £20.
Anyone wishing to join the November course, whether they intend taking the exam or not when they’ve completed the work, should contact either Stuart Jakeman or one of the Drakes League officials.