What does a cricket umpire do?
Every summer weekend Lucas dons his black-and-white garb and stands in 40ºC heat to umpire for a metropolitan turf cricket association. "I judge on the laws of cricket," he says, clearly and concisely.
What's a typical working day involve?
Before Lucas leaves the house he checks to see that he's got equipment like tape for measuring the pitch length, a mallet for banging in the stumps and ball counters. On arrival at the ground he'll check the condition of the pitch. "I'll check that it's dry and flat, with a good covering of short grass and that the curators have rolled the pitch properly," he says. He'll also check the ground for sprinkler heads and other potential hazards. He then sets up the stumps.
"Approximately half an hour before the start of play I'll get the two captains together and have the toss to decide who's going to bat and bowl first," Lucas says. Five minutes before the start of play, Lucas calls the cricketers onto the field. "I'll signal to the scorers and check that the other umpire and rest of the players are ready, then call 'play'."
He then officiates on decisions like no balls, lbw (leg before wicket) and run outs. At the end of the day's play he'll call "time" and check that the scorebooks used throughout the day correspond with each other. "Occasionally I might have to report a player, a captain, or a whole side for unfair play or behaviour," Lucas says.
How much time does umpiring take up each week?
Lucas umpires Saturday and Sunday from October to March. Each day's play lasts about six or seven hours and the "laws of cricket" decree that he's at the ground an hour before play. "Depending on whether you're umpiring sub-district or district you generally get paid around $80 to $150 a day. There'd be very few umpires or officials for any sport in the world that would be full-time. It's mainly weekend work, which means that you can hold down a full-time job," Lucas explains.
What are some of the pros and cons of the job?
"A real low is when you make a bad decision," Lucas says, "Like when you have to turn down appeals for lbws that are really close. You feel like the bad guy judging out on an unlucky piece of play. But it's a major high when you know you've gotten a difficult decision right, despite all the pressure." He also comments that the major highlight is "watching cricket from the best spot on the ground". Lucas's career highlights are winning the most improved umpire award and umpiring finals matches.
What sort of skills and qualities do you need?
"You've got to have a level head and not buckle under the players' appeals. And you have to be able to concentrate for an entire day, often in extreme heat," Lucas says. He mentions that being consistent with your decisions is essential and that having reasonable eyesight, hearing and fitness, and a sense of humour helps. "But you have to truly love the sport you're umpiring," Lucas emphasises. "You can't just be doing it for the money."
Are there any tips for getting a job as a cricket umpire?
"Just give it a go," he says enthusiastically. "There are so many leagues that have no umpires so just stand in and do a match for free. Then if you like it contact a metropolitan or country turf association where they pay umpires." Lucas sees umpiring as a real career path and aims to eventually umpire first-class matches.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).