RECRUITING more umpires has been a key issue for many years.

But are leagues looking in the right places?

Richard Jones, county education officer for YCB ACO (Yorkshire Cricket Board Association of Cricket Officials), thinks that maybe a wider approach is needed and that some potential areas of recruitment aren’t given enough of a priority.

At the inaugural annual meeting of the Bradford Premier League Match Officials’ Association, Jones even had a title for his missive: Cricket umpiring isn’t just for old men.

He said: “I want to try and encourage youngsters, women, BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic), both male and female, to take up umpiring.

“If we just leave it to retiring players we will never ever have enough.”

Jones also umpires in the Bradford League, and revealed: “Players are playing longer nowadays.

“I did a game towards the end of the season and there was a 70-year-old spin bowler, who bowled 10 tidy overs.

“That is great for him, but he is not going anywhere, He won’t be playing in their first team or for Yorkshire, and all he is doing is blocking a space for a youngster.

“I know some players are scared of umpiring and say ‘I wouldn’t take the abuse that you guys take’ but we have to explore other avenues and attract the younger person.”

Jones added: “Umpiring is interactive and is the best place to watch cricket from and it is also a great thing to have on your CV.

“If you are a 14 or 15-year-old taking your GCSEs or later your A-Levels and 10 of you are up for a job interview and someone looks at your CVs and they all have seven GCSEs and two A-Levels but one is a cricket umpire in the Bradford League the interviewer will think ‘ooh!’

“Umpiring teaches you man management, it gives you responsibility and a bit of income because it could earn you £1,500 a year cricket umpiring, and that money could come in useful for anybody.

“It just helps to develop young people.”

Jones revealed: “We have limited our scope to retiring players. If someone holds their hands up and says ‘I want to be an umpire’, we include them, but the advertising to ‘become an umpire’ tends to be in the changing room or on the home webpage of the league.

“I would hope to get it into the local papers to attract people, I would like to see adverts in the fitness centres in January.

“Loads of people will be going there with their new year’s resolutions about getting fit and have maybe never thought about being an umpire.

“We now have a new outlet in that the coaches’ association have signed up with the ACO, and they (coaches) are looking out for those kids who might never be the greatest batter or bowler but might be a very good official and steer them down that route instead.

“So rather than have 15 kids, one of whom is never going to play cricket in his (or her) life and one of them isn’t that good and putting them both on the scrapheap, say to them ‘have you thought about umpiring?’, ‘have you thought about scoring?’

“Maybe we could get something in schools as well that says cricket officiating is not just for old men.”