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Half of cricket umpires in UK face verbal abuse says research

Debdoot Das
1.19K   //    06 Nov 2016, 14:39 IST
Some of the umpires say that they have been abused physically too 

More than half of cricket umpires in UK who took part in a research seen by the BBC say they have been subjected to verbal abuse while officiating in games.

The data has been collected from hundreds of umpires by the University of Portsmouth and more than 50 percent of them have said that they have been victims of abuse and even aggressive confrontations. They also said that the swearing has increased recently.

One of the umpires, who has been officiating in Derbyshire for the last few years said he regularly faces such abuses."I've had a person spit at me… how would you feel if someone spat at you? I think it's the most deplorable and disgusting thing you could ever think of,” he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

"I've been sworn at… that's a regular thing, every match."

There were 763 umpires who took part in the survey and vast majority of them were people plying their trade at the recreational level. Half of the total numbers said abuses were hurled at them almost every couple of games or a couple of times a season.

Also Read: Top 5 umpires in ICC Elite Panel 2016-17

Last year, a total of five matches had to be abandoned in the United Kingdom because of violence which broke out during the game.  

Over 40 percent of the umpires in the research said they were thinking whether to continue doing the job or not.

"What we are noticing is there is an underlying trend here and particularly in cricket, given the spirit of cricket, there is an issue and something that needs to be addressed,” Tom Webb, who is a senior lecturer in sports management at the University of Portsmouth and one of the academics behind the research, said.


Also, nearly 3 percent of the umpires said they have been physically abused while officiating.

"We didn't expect to see any umpires in cricket saying they had been physically abused. So that is concerning," Webb said.

Umpire Chris Brownhill who hails from Kingswinford said he was officiating in a friendly when a fighting started.

"All hell broke out," he said. "One of our boys said a comment he shouldn't have then the batsman peeled off his pads and came charging towards our fielder."I managed to restrain him for a little bit before people were descending into a brawl."

In another incident, a Sheffield cricketer was banned for 12 years this year in July for assaulting another player during an outing.

The MCC—lawmakers of the sport—are also trying new on-field sanctions to eradicate such problems. The sanctions include giving away penalty runs and allowing umpires to dismiss players.

MCC head of laws Fraser Stewart said they have not decided yet if the trials would be made into laws.

 "It's something we trialled this year and we're just getting the feedback which initially seems quite positive."

Nick Cousins, head of the England and Wales Cricket Board Association of Cricket Officials (ACO), said: "The game cannot afford to lose these people.

"If we are being told that large numbers of them are considering giving up the game because of increasing amounts of player abuse, then the one thing we can't do is nothing.

"We'll continue to work hard to improve player behaviour to ensure that players and umpires have a good experience when they take part in the game."

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