Sandy Scotland's Trip to Lord's

01 May

Sandy Scotland (r) with David Jukes (l)About 10 years ago, MCC said they wanted to appoint one of the umpires when they played Scotland in Scotland. I said that was fine but I told Cricket Scotland that in that case we should have the right to appoint an umpire when the game was held at Lords. MCC were not too pleased but they couldn’t escape the logic of the argument. Scotland play a one day match at Lords every other time they play in England; I think the first time it was Ian Ramage that stood and four years ago Brian Papworth was given the honour.

At the umpires and scorers seminar in March, Mac Wylie and Ian Ramage came up to me and said that I should do the game at Lords on 22nd April - but I would have to behave myself! I of course accepted at once –just as it is the ambition of every player from around the world to play at Lords so it is the ambition of every umpire to officiate there.

I tried to put the trip out of my mind but as the day approached I found it very difficult to find out any information about the game. Scotland are of course between coaches at the moment and it was only shortly before the match that Toby Bailey was appointed as coach for the match. Eventually I knew what plane to catch on the Monday morning and that it was coloured clothing, but I did not even know who my colleague was. I took a big stock of coloured clothing with me, hoping that something would be compatible with what he brought.

As the day approached, I looked anxiously at the weather forecast which got steadily worse. Imagine getting such a game and then being washed out! As we neared Central London on Monday lunchtime there was a heavy period of rain, but when we got to Lords a womens match had already resumed – a tribute to the quick drying newly relaid outfield. Whilst the players practised on the nursery ground I got copies of the new blue laws books from the shop – each one with a bag from Lords. I then managed to persuade a security guard to let me have a look at the media centre – you get a magnificent view from up there and feel you are on top of the players on the field.

We were staying at the Danubius hotel right beside Lords and did not have too late a night despite the presence of Kenny Godsman and some of the MCC players, including Gregor Maiden and Jamie Kerr, in the bar. I had spent a couple of hours studying the ODI regs and made a summary of them and this did come in very useful on the day. It was however raining hard outside.

I woke very early, unable to contain my expectations, breakfasted and arrived at the ground before 8.30am for a 10.30 start - the ODI regs do say to be there 2 hours before the start and there was plenty to do. I met my colleague Chris Watts – although he also comes from Norfolk he is no relation of Fraser. He is a county second eleven umpire, is about to retire from the police and hopes he might be able to defy the English tradition of ex-first class players and aspires to the first class list. We got on well together and he did say at the end he was impressed by my standard.

The day was very dank and cloudy and not at all warm. The groundsman, Mick Hunt, made the usual groundsman’s noises, said the women had damaged his Test Match pitches and wanted them covered with mats. This was no problem.

Chris had different clothing, coloured rather than black – fortunately the authorities were supremely unconcerned about this. We met the captains at the toss, discussed the rules and we agreed ODI rules including 2 balls per innings.

Scotland were fielding but right up to the start it looked as though it might rain. However at 10.25 the bell was rung and we walked through the Long Room and onto the outfield. The scoreboards had our names up and there was an announcer to announce us. Everything was done like a Test Match although there were only about 150 spectators.

Every umpire at Lords wants to go to the nursery end to be able to look at the pavilion. I was prepared to toss for it but Chris gave me the choice so I got the view. The pitch was right over by the grandstand with only about a 43 yard boundary. The ground felt cockpit like, it is not large and the stands rise very high. It was immediately obvious the game was not going to be easy. In the cloudy and damp conditions the ball cut and swung quite a lot. Iain Wardlaw was able to bring the ball up the hill and wickets fell regularly. I had to give one of the openers out caught behind and there were a couple of close lbw appeals. Scotland were very slow with their overs but MCC were all out for 149 in under 38 overs and Matthew Cross took 5 catches. Gregor Maiden top scored with 27.

In defiance of the regs, we had lunch immediately, a hearty feed - how any one bowls after that, I don’t know. We went out again and the opening bowler had no ball trouble. He was difficult to umpire with a skip of his front foot. Calum MacLeod who had survived an injury scare the previous night took full advantage and after 3.5 overs Scotland had scored 37. The bowler got his revenge by bowling MacLeod next ball but it seemed like a quick finish.

However Scotland kept losing wickets. Andrew Umeed was out to a very smart stumping by Jamie Kerr, a decision Andrew did not like but the scorers square to the wicket said it was a very good decision by me. I also had 2 lbws and Scotland declined to 90 for 7, well behind the D/L par score on the board. However Majid Haq led a slow revival and even though the ninth wicket fell at 137 the tension continued to mount as Ally Evans sometimes somehow kept the ball out. It took 46.1 overs but Scotland eventually edged home by one wicket, Majid hitting a winning 4 to become the highest scorer of the match with 28 not out.

There were the usual Lords scorecards with our names as the umpires at the foot. We each got a couple and I intend framing one. There was a reception after the match at which the drink flowed freely and all the players and ourselves got medallions given to everyone this year to celebrate 200 years of the ground.

We left for Heathrow and eventually got home on the stroke of midnight. What a 41 hours!

I was of course delighted with the day and already in retrospect seems better than it did at the time. It is always more challenging to umpire a low scoring struggle than a run feast and there were lots of things to think about. The two balls was a new thing for me - I think each of us forgot to give the ball back three times at the start of an over. We had the weather to worry about; we were off for a short time due to a shower but there were no D/L adjustments.

I was of course concerned at my own performance but Toby Bailey was very generous in his assessment of me. He is going to give me video footage of my decisions so I may well be more self critical.

I am only sorry that there was no Scottish scorer at the game, apparently for cost reasons. I personally think scorers should get the chance and that it should be a different one each time. Maybe in 4 years' time a scorer should accompany my equivalent to everybody’s favourite cricket ground.

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