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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Ruthven

Wilson urges cricket organisations to make umpiring more appealing

Recently retired cricket umpire Paul Wilson says cricketing organisations need to start making umpiring pathways “more attractive” for former players. 

Wilson was one of two Australian umpires to announce their retirement from Cricket Australia’s elite panel, the other being Bruce Oxenford - who spent 13 years on the ICC Elite panel and officiated 70 tests and 109 ODIs. 

Over the past 11 years, Wilson umpired as part of the ICC International Panel, officiating nine tests, 51 ODIs and 27 T20 Internationals. Domestically, Wilson has 88 BBL matches, including five finals under his belt.

The pair officiated for the final time during the Sheffield Shield match between Western Australia and Queensland at the WACA last week. 

Speaking to Sports Breakfast Wilson said it was a “special” moment to retire alongside Oxenford.

“Bruce has had an outstanding career, great person, outstanding person, great umpire,” he said. 

“He's been doing this for over 20 years but to be able to do it with him in this game, my first first-class game as an umpire was with Ox, at the same ground and was actually WA and NSW. 

“To be able to come back and finish here, and be with the same person I started it with, is quite unique. So it was a really special week. 

“The player’s guard of honour on last morning was pretty awesome and didn't expect that at all. But the whole four days for us was great. There's a little bit of reminiscing, good humour, and great relationships with the players.

“I'm going to thank both teams for the way they handled things and got on with the game and the way they respected our roles and what we've done was really special. 

Wilson got his start back in 2002 as part of Cricket Australia’s Project Panel - an initiative started by now-ICC Chief Executive Geoff Allardice to encourage former players to take up umpiring. 

The opportunity was designed to “fast track” and provide opportunities at domestic level, before promoting prospective umpires to the national panel.

Wilson says this is an initiative he would like to see reintroduced in the future. 

“It was a scheme which Shawn Craig took up after me and Shawn still going great on the domestic scene and it's unfortunate it sort of petered out a little bit since Craig,” he said.

“We're trying to hopefully resurrect this thing in the next few years and not just from a male perspective, but we need more female umpires and to get more female umpires involved, particularly ex-players.” 

“So who knows, look out in the next couple of years and hopefully we get a project well up and running again.” 

Wilson also said being contracted and commitment from Cricket Australia was what kept him around during his early days, believing something similar is needed now.

“I think there needs to be some sort of incentive or some sort of scheme involved where you can get players out of their systems used that they're currently in and get them involved in umpiring,” he said.

“So we've got to start looking at how we make that more attractive for former players to take it up.”

IMAGE: Getty Images


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