Gibraltar Umpire Sunil Chandiramani
Gibraltar Cricket & ICC Europe Panel Umpire Sunil Chandiramani recently travelled to Edinburgh, Scotland to umpire matches in the East of Scotland Cricket Association (ESCA) Championship and the Scottish Cup.
Sunil was awarded a Scholarship from the Trevor Henry Memorial Fund. The Fund assists cricket umpires in their development in the game. gibraltarcricket.com caught up with him and asked him to share his experiences.
gibraltarcricket.com (GC): Firstly, why did you choose Scotland?
Sunil Chandiramani (SC): Scotland is one of the leading Associates both in Europe and in the world. Having been on the ICC European Panel for a number of years, I want to kick on and I realised that umpiring in Scotland would test me as an umpire. Further, following on from my experiences in Ireland both in 2012 and 2013, I felt it was time to face a different challenge and Scotland was an exciting prospect for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the standard of cricket would give me a more challenging and possibly more intense experience on the field than at home. And, secondly, in Gibraltar we are fortunate that we get great cricket weather during the season and I wanted experience different weather conditions especially rain. Finally, as I was appointed to the Pepsi ICC Europe U19 Division 2 WCQ in Essex this summer, I identified the need to umpire more 50 over cricket this season and I recognised that Scotland would give me all of this and more.
GC: We know that you started planning this for a few months; can you give us a brief summary about the planning of this weekend?
SC: I started planning this at the end of last season and started to identify potential dates in the calendar. I contacted Graham Cooper from ICC Europe to apply for the Scholarship in February. I also contacted Sandy Scotland, Cricket Scotland’s Officials Appointments Officer, and made arrangements and started enquiring as to the possibility of umpiring.
GC: How did you prepare for the weekend away?
SC: Preparation for me is vital, and my preparations started since the start of 2014 with fitness work. Also, as I am currently undergoing my ECB ACO Level 1A Course preparation and planning were crucial components for the Course. My preparation spanned from reading, re-reading, and re-re-reading the Regulations for both my games. I noticed that this was different from what I am used to and made extensive notes as part of my preparation for the weekend away. Most of the peculiarities were in relation to the quantity of overs bowled by a bowler in the Cup. There were also different regulations in relation to wides, no balls and powerplays. I made checklists to make sure I fulfilled all my pre-match duties. Part of my preparation also included contacting my colleagues and ensuring we were wearing similar gear and arranging times to meet for each game.
I met up with Sandy on Friday evening and he gave me a tour around Edinburgh before taking me out for a curry… yes a curry in Scotland! Sandy and I caught up as it had been 8 years that I had seen him. We shared stories and discussed the regulations. He made me feel at ease prior to the weekend.
GC: On the Saturday, you umpired an ESCA Championship game. Tell us a bit more about it.
On Saturday I went to Kirkhill to umpire Penicuik v Carlton 2s. When I woke up I was not feeling well and I was unsure whether I would be able to stand during the day as I had a chest infection and couldn’t stop coughing and was feeling achy.
My colleague for the day was Robin Pollok. When he picked me up my first reaction was he is tall… at 6 foot 5 inches, we were literally little and large on the pitch! Robin and I had a good chat about the Regulations and told me more or less what to expect. I mentioned that I did not feel well and he said just to take it as it comes and if I do not feel well at any stage just to sit out.
We got to the ground, and we were greeted by the ground manager and members of the Club. Robin and I proceeded and inspected the ground. I noticed that the pitch was really green. Robin and I discussed whether we would bat or bowl first. During the inspection, I bumped into Christopher Cash who I know well from umpiring him at ICC junior games. He made me feel quite comfortable and the banter was flowing.
It was just before midday and we made our way out to the middle. I was feeling a bit nervous as I did not know what to expect. The first over was bowled from Robin’s end which calmed me down a bit. The innings did not have much going on and I did not have too many decisions to make. I had the odd LBW shout and run out to consider.
What I did notice was that there was a lot of swing for the 90 minutes or so as it was humid and there was a lot of playing and missing. I then had 10 overs of good off spin from young Rory Allardice. It was good to see a young spinner who gave the ball some air with the odd quicker ball. He took 4 wickets and they were well deserved. I did have a lot of running from square leg to square leg as there was a left hand-right hand combination batting, my fitness work over the winter has clearly paid dividends! My biggest test was to keep concentrating and not to switch off at any point as this would be detrimental. The innings went about its course with some good batting from Kris Steel and Chris Cash. Penicuik scored 226 in their innings and then we headed off for tea and some beautiful cakes.
The 30 minute interval flew by and we were back out there again. The first over again was not bowled at my end. The first over bowled from my end was bowled by a spinner. In fact, the first 20 overs at my end were all bowled by spinners. The leg spinner was a big turner of the ball and I had to wide some of his deliveries given the turn. I had a number of LBW shouts, including one very early on which was stone dead, that pitched on middle and straightened (an easy decision when it comes to an LBW), and the odd caught behind. There was one big shout for a caught behind which I gave not out. One of the fielders said great decision as it clipped the pad. Carlton 2s were losing wickets regularly and were all out for 175 and Penicuik had won by 51 runs.
It was good to have stood out in the middle for 96 overs. My legs were definitely a bit sore! I was quite happy with my performance but I knew that this was just a warm up to what would be a more intense game on Sunday.
After the game, Robin and I had a beer with the players and got talking to members of Penicuik. Robin then took me for a quick whirlwind tour of two of the grounds in Edinburgh. We first went down to the Grange Loan, home of Carlton CC. This was a beautiful ground with a pronounced upward slope. I bumped in to Sandy again and we had a chat about my game. Also at the game was Scotland captain Preston Mommsen and former player Fraser Watts. We then headed to Raeburn Place, home of Grange CC and also an ODI standard ground used by Cricket Scotland. I quickly fell in love with the ground. It was a beautiful ground. Robin who is a member of Grange CC gave me a tour of the ground including the changing rooms, etc. I also had the opportunity of speaking to some former Scottish internationals such as Simon Smith and current A Squad player George Munsey. All in all, a wonderful day out!
GC: What about Sunday’s game? How did that go?
I was aware that Sunday’s game between Watsonians and Poloc at Myreside would be a completely different kettle of fish as it was an Eastern Premier team versus a Western Premier team. I met Neil Davidson at the hotel and we went and had a coffee before and had a chat about all things cricket. Neil highlighted the difference in intensity between games. He said everything will be a little bit quicker and to stay on the ball.
We made our way to the ground, and it was a lovely ground. Watsonians is also our GM Ross Brooks’ former club so some of the chats I had centred on him. Neil and I did our inspections and discussed a number of things. We were given the team sheets prior to the toss and noticed that Watsonians had Dewald Nel, former Scotland, Kent and Worcestershire fast bowler playing for them. I also noticed that Poloc had an overseas Pro, Malcolm Nofal, who has played for South Africa at Under 19 level and who also plays his cricket for Gauteng in South Africa. Poloc also had an overseas amateur in Pierce Fletcher, a fast medium bowler from Auckland, New Zealand. This is when it dawned on me that this would be far more testing that my Saturday game. We did the toss and shortly after it was game time with Watsonians batting first. During the toss I took the lead role in explaining the Regulations to the players and this made me feel composed.
Neil and I made our way out. Neil had the first over with Fletcher opening the bowling first. I noticed that he was quicker than anyone the previous day. At my end I had Malcolm Nofal bowling. The second ball he bowled already had me in the game. There was a big shout for LBW. The ball pitched in line and hit the batsman on the back pad. It was a simple decision and the finger went up. That definitely calmed me down a bit. The innings went down its usual course, including a No Ball for the wicket keeper encroaching, and I had a tough caught behind decision to make. I also had the simplest stumping to give out with the batsman, James Easton running past a loopy ball and left stranded 6 yards down the pitch! Watsonians were all out for 195 in the 43rd over.
Then lunch came around, and it started drizzling. Neil and I discussed the rain and what the best course of action was. I decided that it was best to put the covers out as a precautionary measure as I did not want the pitch and surrounding area getting wet during tea just in case it rained and Neil agreed with me. The covers went on and my decision was vindicated as it started to pour. During the rain break we inspected a couple of times and kept the players abreast with our thoughts. Neil and I decided to take it in turns to talk and split responsibilities equally. Then the rain had stopped and we did our calculations and only 6 overs were lost to rain. We were back on the field for a 44 overs innings. The Duckworth Lewis par score was 185 in 44 overs.
Dewald Nel opened the bowling from Neil’s end and I had Patrick Sadler who has played first class cricket and captained both Scotland Under 19s to the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup and also Cambridge University. Paddy bowled a good line and length at a quick and sharp pace. There was a big run out appeal at my end which I gave out. It was a tight call but in my view it was out. At this point, someone from the boundary shouted some obscenities and said how could I give it out if I could not see it. This did bring me down a bit and knocked my confidence for a short period of time as I did not expect it. Neil noticed this and said to forget about it and to focus on the next ball as I could not do anything now. He said that we can talk after the game but to completely forget about it as the game still goes on and that to concentrate on the next decision. This really did help me and got my mind back on track. I took on board what he said and re-focussed. Wickets fell regularly and I had one easy decision to make in the rest of the innings. Poloc were all out for 136 and Watsonians won by 49 runs.
At the end of the match, Neil and I discussed the match and filled up the appropriate match forms. We also discussed the run out decision and more importantly the fact that it affected me. It was a great day out and a game I really enjoyed and it has left me wanting more.
GC: How would you summarise your trip away?
It was a great experience which tested me in a number of ways. Concentration levels are very important as in less intense games you will not be involved in making vital decisions as often and therefore you must try and maintain the same level throughout. In more intense games it works the other way, you cannot switch off at all and therefore this can be draining both mentally and physically. I learnt the importance of switching-up and switching-down in order to be at your best throughout.
Standing with different umpires who I had never met highlighted the importance of teamwork and getting acquainted with your colleague as best possible before the game. Working with different umpires has made me focus on my strengths and weaknesses as they both gave me productive feedback and which I can feed back to Gibraltar umpires.
This experience has also been beneficial as it has shown that I have implemented what I set out to do during the close season. I really enjoyed this experience and this experience has left me wanting more cricket at this level. The sun did really make a big difference to it as it provided a good weekend of cricket.
I need to thank the Trevor Henry Memorial Fund and Graham Cooper from ICC Europe who gave me the opportunity to improve my umpiring. I appreciate the support I have been given from the Gibraltar Cricket Board, too. Finally, I am grateful to Sandy Scotland, Robin Pollok and Neil Davidson from Cricket Scotland for having organised a fantastic weekend of cricket and for both their kind hospitality and to the host clubs Penicuik and Watsonians.