Well today saw one of the worst decisions in any game I've ever played. Since I have a very strict policy of not arguing with umpiring decisions, one can deduce that the umpire in question was me...
We were playing in the Sunday league at Nether Whitacre, quickly becoming something of a jinx ground for me after last year's game was called off after one of my least favourite car journey's ever. This year we played and the one important detail to record here was that I bowled two reasonable overs and took my first wicket of the season. Nice to get that out of the way, and pleasing that it was a well-set batsman on a large score. It was my second ball, a top-spinner, and I was hoping he'd pop it into the air, which he duly did to Rich, a first team player and a very solid pair of hands. Sadly the subsequent 10 balls went for a few runs, but the ground was a curious one with very short boundaries at either end and to one side, with a more normal boundary on the other. Ideally I'd have wanted to bowl from the end with sweeps and pulls going to the longer boundary, but I didn't. That's why even with only two balls I was significantly unhappy with I went for 2 runs per ball - the fours were just too easy.
Anyway, in the end they lost five wickets for a huge score and we were left chasing something ridiculous like 291 from 40 overs, and Chan (the captain) asked if I'd do the scoresheet. I said I'd scored 100 overs yesterday for the 3rds (our game was called off) and I'd rather not do any more today, so instead the fateful decision was made to have me umpire, with Waz at square leg. We started very fast, boundarys all over the place. In the third over came the first big decision for me.
Should I have given it out? Well that's really two questions. Was Chan out? Probably he was. But... Should an umpire give a batsman out without being sure? The laws are clear - he shouldn't. I wasn't sure, I sought additional information, I was still unsure. Not out.
Well the fielding team were understandably upset. What was less excusable was the volley of accusations that flew in my direction. In combination with some very abusive language I was called a cheat several times, which does not go down well with me. I am most definitely not a cheat, and anyone who knows me even half-well would know that. At one point the keeper suggested a change of umpire to which I said he doesn't get to choose the umpire, then it was put to me that I had ruined the game - in my view their attitude was ruining it - and "what example does that set to the youngsters". Well my answer was simple and immediate. "What example do you think you are setting. The way I was brought up was to never, ever, question the umpire." To be fair, he shut up after that, and after it became clear that I wasn't going anywhere they got on with the game.
At the time of the unpleasantness I was mentally noting which players where dishing out these accusations, anticipating the necessity of a letter to the league - and I'd have written it, too. Thankfully, one of their players did make a point of apologising to me later and shaking my hand, so for me the matter is settled.
My next decision was thankfully straightforward. Chan went back to an off-spinner, missed the ball and was hit on the back pad. Plumb. Out.
My third decision came after about 12 overs, when the off-spinner bowled a ball round the wicket that pitched in line and straightened, hit Rich on the pads and would, I thought, have gone on to hit the stumps. Immediately I gave it out and immediately I regretted it. My brain was a bit fried by the situation I'd been in, but all it would have taken would have been a second or two's reflection to spot that Rich was a long way down the track. It may have been the case that the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps, but there was way too much doubt about it. That one was a shocker, pure and simple. Straight away I absented myself from the field, I just couldn't put up with any more. The irony was that I was replaced by two guys who to the best of my knowledge have never given a team-mate out ever.
In the end I did end up scoring about half the innings, not the easiest of tasks with a different scoresheet layout to get used to and a scoreboard to maintain that wasn't the simplest. We dropped off the pace a bit and never recovered, losing by about 30 runs with only 3 wickets down. I'm quite happy that one's out of the way, and it's good to have claimed my first scalp of the season.
Just don't call me a cheat.