Would you cheat when you do your umpiring stint?
Imagine standing at the bowler’s end, hearing and seeing the slight nick and not giving it out. That’s cheating.
I was returning to the game after a 5-year absence. During the second game, we were in the field, I was wicket keeping and we had appeal after appeal turned down by the opposition umpires. I was convinced a couple of times that the batsman had got an edge, or been plumb in front.
The umpire didn’t agree.
At the level I play, there are rarely appointed umpires, so players from the batting team fill in.
During the break our captain came over to me and said because their umpires had been strict, we should have the same attitude. Don’t give them anything. Be strict on the wides.
Then it got worse.
He told me to throw in a few no balls, don’t give anything out LBW and unless the batsman walks, do not put the finger up for any edges.
I was flabbergasted.
This is my new team. My new captain and here he is asking me to cheat. What is even worse, after 14 overs one of our batsman got a slight edge and I stood still.
I’m still not sure why I didn’t give him out. Then the bowler started screaming at me, opposition captain running over, pointing his finger, calling me a cheat. I had cheated. Thankfully, a couple of wickets fell soon after and I was due to bat. I walked into the changing room.
Our captain gave me a pat on the back, for cheating.
I could not stop thinking about it. New team, new captain, early season game and I hated it.
I spoke to the captain in the pub at the end of the game. I explained it was wrong, to me anyway, to umpire is the same manner as the opposition team. Yes, they had been wrong, and we did win the game. Our best batsman, the person who edged it, who I did not give out, got a run-a-ball 80 to see us home. I did not enjoy the victory and tried to convey this to the captain. He nodded, and did not ask me to umpire for the rest of the season.
I left after that one season.
The lesson taught me that you have to think about your approach to the game. Here are my tips to anyone else in the same dilemma:
- Decide how you want to play the game.
- Do not be afraid to speak your mind, the other players will respect you for it in the long run.
- If you are ever asked to umpire, and you are sure the batsman is out, always give them out. The game is meaningless without integrity. Moreover, so is any subsequent victory.
- Strict umpiring is different from blatant cheating. Remember, the benefit of the doubt always goes to the batsman.
- Enjoy umpiring, it can teach you a lot about the rules, how the pitch is playing and the opposition bowlers.
To learn how to umpire properly as a player, get the online coaching course The Umpiring Survival Guide for Players, Coaches and Non-Umpires available now on PitchVision Academy.