MARK Ryan says while he enjoyed his BDCA first XI umpiring experience at the weekend, it has given him a fresh perspective on the pressure those officiating must feel when the stakes are turned up at the business end of a season.
Ryan was among the former players and volunteers who returned to the field last weekend as umpires, helping to fill the void after the Bendigo District Cricket Umpires Association went on strike.
Ryan, the games record-holder at Bendigo, took charge of the Huntly-North Epsom v Bendigo game alongside Paul Wicks.
While Ryan is no stranger to umpiring having done so at junior level for 15 years and women's cricket in recent seasons, the step-up to first XI brought with it a new level of pressure.
"It was a good experience and certainly very interesting watching the game from a different perspective to that of a competitor," Ryan said on Wednesday.
"As a former player, when you're bowling you're just looking to rap the batsman on the pads or get a nick.
"But when you're umpiring you're obviously looking for a number of things; there's the front foot as well as the back foot in relation to the side crease, looking to see where the ball has pitched, have they hit it, has it carried, is there a noise, is there a deflection...
"There's a lot that goes into every ball that you need to take into consideration, so it's certainly challenging in that regard because you're trying to get everything right.
"Predominantly my approach was if I'm going to give someone out then I have to be 100 per cent sure.
"I've been umpiring juniors for the past 15 years, but there's a lot more pressure that comes with an A Grade game to get things right because the players are much more competitive and there's a lot more on the line.
"The players from both teams were great... they were competitive, they challenged some things, but at the end of the day they moved on because they knew we were out there trying to do our best."
Across the five first XI games at the weekend none went right down to the wire, which Ryan says was a blessing for the stand-in umpires.
"Imagine when it comes down to playing off for a position in the finals, or it's a final, or a close game or there's rain that is a factor and the pressure that comes with that," Ryan said.
"Most of the games officiated at the weekend were reasonably one-sided and it was a home and away game, but if you've got seasons on the line in a tight game then it would be a totally different story for a stand-in when every decision has that extra bit of scrutiny on it."
The BDCUA strike, which related to the amendment of rules regarding the tribunal process, comes in a season where it has twice publicly addressed the issue of player behavior in the BDCA.
In November BDCUA president Larry Wust wrote to all clubs urging "patience and understanding" towards its umpires in the wake of losing a large chunk of experience over the past year.
And in December BDCUA co-ordinator Peter Williams described the treatment of umpires by players as being at an unacceptable level.
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