Once again the Umpires of the Dukes North East Premier League are looking forward to the start of the 2017 season.
Umpire recruitment during the close season saw several new umpires join the list-Steve Barton re-joined after a season off, Bill Dowens and Ray Walton from the Durham Cricket League, Ian Johnson decided to stand fresh from a Level 1a course, Mark Pacitto from the NYSD.
George Thornton is also back after a couple of seasons off and Greig Taylor has moved down from Scotland to join our panel but George Russell decided for health reasons to stand down after being on the panel from the start of the NEPL. We wish George well and my thanks for all the games in which he stood. Philip Raines persistent back trouble did mean that Phil could not stand in Saturday games but would help out in other shorter games. We therefore had “spares” for the first time in years.
However the bad news. Paul Haley was involved in a non fault road accident which has left him with back trouble needing six months of physiotherapy and 41 appointments to change. Michael Wood is also not standing this year, reasons unknown but 24 appointments to also change. Bill Ryan is just getting over a serious operation but happily on the mend and is umpiring albeit with a late start to the season. Ian Warne has obtained a promotion at work so is back working a rota system and misses several games.
However we are now just as badly off as last year but every game is covered but with 11 umpires not available for the first game umpires in the Durham Cricket League are helping out. Easter Saturday perhaps not a good time to start the season..
We will continue to give new umpires games to gain experience and work together with the Tutors of Durhams ECBACO to bring these new umpires on in t he hope that they join our Saturday team when they have finished playing as the games on a Sunday are all covered with two umpires and some spares.
We continue to have umpires standing in Minor Counties games in Jeff Marshall and Brian Morris and also D list county second eleven games in Alan Clark and Ian Warne plus Jeff and Brian.
This is the last season for the Laws of the game as 2018 season sees many changes but first we have to put in place several new changes in the NEPL and must keep a wary eye on teams having to achieve 17 overs an hour otherwise points will be deducted.
We strive to produce the best umpires available who work together and have the respect on the whole of all players.
May the sun continue to shine and everyone whether they play score or merely watch have a great season.
The NEPL are always on the look out for new umpires so if anyone out there fancies the challenge of having the best seat in the house just get in touch.