An umpire’s column: Eagerly-awaited clash proves a little disappointing

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My colleague Martin White and I arrived at the Wivenhoe ground eagerly looking forward to the clash between the top two sides in Division One, separated by just three points.

The game itself was a bit of an anti-climax, albeit played in an extremely sporting manner by both teams. Mildenhall ran out comfortable winners by seven wickets, very well led by skipper Ben Shepperson with 94, with great backing from Steve Taylor 85no.

The Wivenhoe early order batsmen threw their wickets away with some injudicious shots, coupled with some excellent Mildenhall catching and there was really no way back from that.

Wivenhoe 236-9 Mildenhall 240-3. The basement club Copford are the visitors this Saturday.

Worlington lost to Frinton IIs by three wickets. Worlington 165, Graham Ford 56, Frinton 166-7, Steve Flack 5-24. This Saturday it is the long trip to Witham.

Halstead are now very firmly in the clutches of the relegation dogfight after losing to bottom club Copford by five wickets. Halstead 215-8, Neale Dakin 42, Copford 219-5, Harry Veal 2-23, Joe Morris 2-28.

Next up is a home game against Mistley.

Hadleigh are still firmly in the relegation places after losing a very high scoring game by one wicket to Braintree. Hadleigh 267-8, Josh Davey 58 Braintree 268-9 Luke Istead 2-55. This weekend they entertain Coggeshall.

Haverhill need to look over their shoulder as they are not safe yet, after losing to ever improving Mistley by 84 runs. Mistley 236-4, Haverhill 152 Dan Pass 69. Saturday sees another struggling side in Braintree as the visitors.

All three of our Division Two sides lost last weekend; bottom club Exning going down by four wickets to Dunmow despite a good all-round performance from Ollie Lawson. Exning 177, Lawson 69, Dunmow 178-6, Lawson 3-46. Games do not come much harder than this Saturday’s trip to unbeaten league leaders Maldon.

Lakenheath lost to third placed Clacton by 46 runs. Clacton 199, evergreen Tim Milner 4-56, Danny Rodic3-50, Lakenheath 153, Dominic Palmer 38, Frank Gammon 34. An away game at Ipswich is next.

Finally, Long Melford lost to Ipswich by 55 runs. Ipswich 214-7 Ivan Newman 3-46, Chris Sturgeon 3-57, Long Melford 159-9, veteran Bill Byford 63. The next date in the diary is an away trip to Easton.

As an umpire, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the lack of younger umpires attending the very well run courses put on by the Suffolk Association of Cricket Officials. Sometimes this season we have had no umpires in Division Three, and not covered all the games in Division Two.

While appreciating players want to carry on playing as long as they can, and even with Over-50s, 60s and 70s sides now running, surely there must be players who have had to give up the game, maybe through injury, and would like to give something back to the game.

Rather than being a spectator, take up umpiring and see the game from a totally different perspective, from the best place in the ground, out in the middle. I’ll give details of next year’s courses here before the end of the season.