CE INTERVIEWS SPANISH UMPIRE RON GRAHAM
Q1–Firstly thanks for talking to CE Ron. Could you briefly tell me a little about your qualifications and when you first started umpiring ?
I first started umpiring seriously in 1991 having completed the Umpires Course. The RAFCU&SA is affiliated to the ACU&S and I pay subscriptions to both organisations. The ACU&S until recently were recognised as the governing body for all umpires in the United Kingdom. In 2006 the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) formed the ECB OA (Officials Association) in competition with but not in opposition to the ACU&S. Also, a breakaway group of umpires from the ACU&S formed the Institute of Cricket Umpires and Scorers (ICUS). In simple terms these recently formed organisations came about because of internal disagreement and alleged maladministration and mismanagement of funds within the ACU&S and the ECB’s desire to have more direct control of umpiring appointments and administration within the game of cricket.
Q2-How did you become involved with the Spanish Cricket scene ?
In the early nineties, before I came to live in Spain, I used to visit my good friend and ex Director of Cricket in Spain, Allan Bacon. Allan is also Chairman of The Bears Cricket Club. I am a founder member of The Bears and have toured Spain as a player and umpire for the last ten years. In 2003, when I came to live in Spain permanently, I was familiar with the cricket scene, especially at Sporting Alfaz CC. I got in touch with Brian Pitts, who organises the umpiring appointments for the AEC and Sporting Alfaz, and made myself available to stand. Since I came to live in Spain the development of Torrevieja, then Campoamor, now La Manga Cricket Clubs has been the biggest ongoing development in the Costa Blanca area. Extending the Costa Blanca League to include two sides from Valencia, the resurgence of Mojacar and the formation of Allbox augurs well for the future.
Q3– How would one go about becoming an umpire in Spain ?
First thing to do is undergo some kind of umpire training course that explains the sometimes complex Laws of Cricket and develops fieldcraft skills. Before donning the traditional umpires white coat, or embroidered shirt these days, prior knowledge of the game experienced as a player or an administrator would be an advantage. A read through the Laws of Cricket is a must. To make the Laws easier to understand I recommend Tom Smith’s New Cricket Umpiring and Scoring which is published by Weidenfield & Nicholson, costs £9.99 in the UK and is available from the publishers, from the ACU&S and on the Internet. The ISBN is 0-297-84724-4. Tom Smith’s excellent book is known as the ‘Umpire’s Bible’ and is an essential reference to have in your bag amongst all the other umpiring paraphernalia you will require.
To order Tom Smith’s book the addresses you may need are:
ACU&S PO Box 399, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3JZ
Weidenfield & Nicholson The Orion Publishing Group Ltd, Orion House, 5 Upper Saint Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9EA
If you are considering taking up umpiring, you will need to start the ball rolling by completing a course of training in order to become qualified. You should also consider joining one of the Umpires Associations mentioned earlier in this interview. By being a member you can improve your qualifications by taking examinations and, through quarterly magazines such as ‘How’s That’, keep in touch with all aspects of the game. You can make a start by seeking help from Cricket Espana (CE). CE, as the governing body for Cricket in Spain, can apply to the European Cricket Council (ECC) to run an Introductory Course for European Umpires provided there are funds available in the CE budget. The minimum number to make this viable would be 6 and the maximum 10. The Course is run over a weekend, would be held in Spain and the ECC would send over a tutor. In the first place you should speak to your club’s CE Representative. If you are not a member of a club affiliated to CE you can join CE for a subscription of, currently, €6 per year. In this event, speak to someone on the CE Committee.
If all else fails the ECC Regional Umpire Consultant is Graham Cooper whose details are :
Graham Cooper | ICC Development Program – Europe | Regional Umpire Consultant | European Cricket Council | The Clock Tower | Lord’s Cricket Ground | London | NW8 8QN
+44 (0)20 7616 8633 | f: +44 (0)20 7616 8634| w: www.ecc-cricket.com
Q4-Do you have any idea how many umpires are active in Spanish cricket ?
In the 2006 Season I estimate there were approximately 8 to10 umpires operating in the Costa Blanca area. I suspect there may be more in Madrid, Valencia, Ibiza and on the Costa del Sol. Of the 10 umpires I am aware of on the Costa Blanca about 50 per cent qualified in the UK and the remainder are novices or unqualified. Of all the umpires in Spain none has ever been appointed to the ECC Panel of Umpires to date.
Q5–What are your feelings on the standard of umpiring in Spain ?
Umpiring in Spain is a bit like the ‘Curate’s Egg’ – good in parts ! I know that the standard of umpiring in Spain is of major concern to CE. I also believe the Committee wish to raise the standard of umpiring in Spain. In order to raise the standard CE need to invest in Umpire Training. There is a shortage of umpires in Spain, qualified or otherwise. CE should direct Member clubs to target ex-players and encourage them to become umpires and put something back into the game. Younger players with injuries that prevent them from playing are also a potential source of new umpire as are the parents, mothers and fathers, of junior players. If a recognised course and subsequent qualification took place in Spain say, every two or three years, I believe CE could identify students for the course and develop a pool of umpiring expertise from this basic start point. Despite what some players may think, umpires are human beings! They have the same ambition to improve their umpiring skills as players have to improve their game. Once newly qualified it is very common and completely normal for an umpire to want to go on and become fully qualified. This desire to succeed will automatically raise the standard of umpiring in Spain and, in so doing, alleviate the concerns of CE.
Q6-Do you get paid to umpire ?
Not in Spain, no. But we umpires normally get a free tea ! Back home in England, as a member of the Thames Valley League Umpires Panel, I was paid £30 per match. I also used to get paid expenses when officiating in games involving the Combined Services Cricket Association and the RAF Cricket Association.
Thanks Ron for taking time out to talk to CE. Good luck for the forthcoming season.
Ronald Stuart Graham
DOB 25 Feb 47 Age 59
Affiliated Member No G00681of the Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers (ACU&S)
Member No 1301of RAF Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association (RAFCU&SA)
First Qualified in July 91 after 5 day Umpires Course and 4 hour Written Exam at RAF Halton (Qualified as Grade B rec A) Upgraded to Grade A in October 99 following independent Umpire Assessment and Captains Reports
Resume of experience:
Combined Services versus Club Cricket Conference at May’s Bounty, Basingstoke 2002
Inter Service Championships 2000-2003 at United Services Portsmouth,
Vine Lane Uxbridge and Army Ground Aldershot
Various RAF games versus County Second XIs and Minor County XIs 2000-2003
Thames Valley League Panel 2001-2003
AEC Costa Blanca League Panel 2003 to date