UMPIRING levels in the Drakes Huddersfield Cricket League have reached a critical low.
With fewer than 40 qualified umpires available on any given match day, Drakes League officials have launched an appeal on behalf of the Umpires Association, aimed directly at clubs to encourage any of their ex-players to consider taking up the ‘white coat.’
Drakes chairman Roger France told club representatives at the Council meeting that despite recruitment drives, numbers continue to fall among the Umpires Association, leaving, in many cases, just the home club umpire to officiate on his own in Second Eleven games.
And to underline the growing problem even further, the League’s Executive secretary (and qualified umpire) Trevor Atkinson issued a stark warning which could seriously affect the very future of the game locally.
“If you take a five-year plan for instance, then you will find that the majority of umpires in action now will not be officiating in five years time. And unless we significantly increase our numbers very soon, then we shall have a major crisis on our hands,” admitted Atkinson.
“The UA had pledged to supply 45 qualified umpires to man the Drakes League each match day (which breaks down to 30 for the 15 First Eleven matches and one each for the 15 Second Elevens games) but each week, because of illness, holidays and other commitments, we are now supplying fewer than 40!”
The League hope that by appealing to clubs a number of ex-players, or even former umpires, may be persuaded to help out, even if only on an occasional basis.
“Each week the number of umpires available is variable, and more and more the burden is falling on home umpires, which means it is now more imperative than ever that every club ensures they have a home umpire available,” said Mr France.
“By and large most clubs have fulfilled what they are supposed to do, and meanwhile, the Umpires Association will continue to endeavour to staff as many matches as they can.”
Anyone feeling they can help, either on a regular or temporary basis, should contact either Trevor Atkinson, or Association secretary Ron Tindall (01484 643307).