1995. 22 years of age. I’d been umpiring cricket for eight years, and at times, it was a struggle. I’d felt like giving up, due to being criticised and vilified at every turn.
All of a sudden, the previous year had gone well and I found myself doing top level League cricket in 1995. I was assigned to a big game between two local teams. I was surprised the authorities could entrust me with such a responsibility, but entrust me they did.
I remember the day. It was a sunny, warm, May Saturday afternoon. I was nervous yes, and playing in the match were several top quality players. I could only dream of being a top quality player; I couldn’t run very fast and was totally uncoordinated at playing the game. But I loved the game, and here I was, on the big stage.
I remember being treated very well indeed, actually, for my first big test. The players were respectful and well behaved, and I’m acquaintances with most of them even to the present day. So I must have been doing something right! I was working on a style of being quietly efficient, unnoticed but good at what I was doing.
The game went in a blur, in fact I don’t remember too many details of the game. All I can remember is that in 1996, I thought I had made it and started to believe I could umpire any match, and umpire it well. Unfortunately, that attitude proved to be totally misplaced as I struggled to maintain a consistent standard. In fact, I was probably lucky to maintain my place when the first Premier League matches were played. Cricket is a great leveller and will bite you if you don’t pay it enough respect.
But I can look back, 22 years ago, to my debut, and look back with fondness. It was a good day, and my love for the game increased even more. Ahh…memories