The Association of Cricket Umpires

The Association of Cricket Umpires was formed in the Kings Head Hotel (later called the Burn Bullock) in 1953, by Tom Smith. Below is an article he wrote for the Mitcham Cricket Club Yearbook of 1954.

By Tom E. Smith, Hon. Gen. Secretary of The Association of Cricket Umpires.

It is a very great pleasure to me to be invited to contribute to the Mitcham Cricket Club Year Book a review of the work that is being done by my Association.

The Association has very strong links with Mitcham because apart from the fact that I, as founder, am a Mitcham man, the inaugural meeting was convened at the King’s Head Hotel, at the Cricket Green, last March. This was by no means an accident, but by way of careful design. At the beginning when I contacted about 20 umpires with a plan of forming an association on somewhat different lines I felt that a better start could not be made than by organising the formation at one of the most famous cricket greens in the world. There could surely not be a better omen for the inauguration of an association for umpires than at the very place where cricket has been played for over 250 years.

The Association has the blessing of the parent body, the M.C.C., The Club Cricket Conference, the National Association of Cricket Clubs, and other controlling bodies. From that start there are now over 200 names on the books. From all over the country the membership ranges through First Class County umpires, Minor County, M.C.C., C.C.C., the Leagues, the three Services and Club, to potential and trainee umpires. Such has been borne out in fact!

Besides an overseas membership in N. Ireland, North Borneo, British Guiana and Gold Coast and a very strong contingent in B.A.O.R., Germany, the Association works in close cooperation and liaison with the South African Umpire Associations, Jamaica U.A., Madras U.A., and many other bodies. Joint functions are held with the Cricket Society, whose Chairman is Ayton Whitaker, the B.B.C. producer. One of our active members is John Arlott, the well-known cricket journalist and commentator, and who is a keen vice-president of the Association.

To what can be attributed this tremendous growth from such a very small beginning ? The predominant object of the Association at all times is, “To improve the standard of umpiring.” The serving committees have created a powerful organisation with this theme always in mind.

For many years there has been grumbling in this country about the standard of umpiring and inefficient umpires but nothing has been done about it seriously. No attempt has been made to train and test umpires to bring them up to a standard for examination or grading.

The Association conducts its affairs and policy along the lines of a professional body. Members are elected as Associates on the understanding that they are willing to study and work to take the examination in theory and oral for “Full” status. These examinations are difficult and the standard is high. Perfect answers to theoretical questions do not necessarily make a perfect umpire. His interpretation of the laws on the field must finally count.

The Training Committee consisting of senior umpires, all experienced in teaching and coaching, has prepared training schedules with a standard system of training and grading. The first examinations were held in London in January, and the examiners were Frank Chester and K. McCanlis, the county umpires. It is difficult to imagine anyone better qualified for the job.

Lectures, discussions and demonstrations in theory and practice are proceeding. Welfare arrangements include legal advice and insurance against accident on the field and whilst travelling. An appointment bureau is available and a news bulletin is circulated. Refresher and other courses are planned.

Douglas Jardine, the famous England captain, became first President in October and publicly expressed his enthusiasm for the work of the Association. The National Press and a B.B.C. news bulletin followed with the announcements that Frank Chester, H. M. Garland Wells, K. McCanlis and John Arlott had become vice-presidents.

We now have to live up to a tremendous standard set by the leadership of a great England captain and the technical advice of the best-known umpire in the world today. In this book Frank pointed out last year that an umpire may know the laws inside out but the test is putting them into practice. We believe that is very true. He must have confidence in his bearing and personality. An efficient, well trained umpire will have quiet confidence in himself on the field. This leads in turn to the players having confidence in him and this to the greater enjoyment of our wonderful game by the players, officials, and spectators alike.

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