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Fear of failure: Umpires’ biggest challenge

Wednesday, January 1 2014

THE GREATEST pressure facing cricket umpires at all levels is the fear of failure.

And how they maintain their focus and control of a match will determine their success as they also grapple with the challenges of technology and increased scrutiny by the media and the public.

This was the advice given by well-known FIFA football referee Ramesh Ramdhan to a wide cross-section of local umpires at a two-day symposium which ended on Sunday and was organised by the TT Umpires and Scorers Association at the National Cricket Centre at Balmain, Couva.

Ramdhan was giving a presentation “Coping With Pressure” to the large gathering which included former and current umpires including Peter Nero, Joel Wilson, Clyde Cumberbatch, Clarence Shafarali , new umpires association president Parasram Singh, and up and coming Zahid Bassarath and Danesh Ramdhanie.

Ramdhanie said umpires must exude confidence and armed with a knowledge of the game should develop a mental toughness so they will never feel threatened by players or have a fear of criticism.

“Pressure is all in your mind. It is not caused by external elements. It’s you working against you. Your objective at all times is to maintain focus wherever you may be officiating. Managing your thoughts and emotions effectively will determine how you perform,” said Ramdhan.

He advised the umpires that they must live in the moment and not think about the last ball bowled or the last decision made, rightly or wrongly. He cautioned that deep thought must go into their decision making since reputations and careers depended on it.

Ramdhan said in his training as a world recognised football referee, officials studied worst case scenarios and he urged the umpires to embrace the challenges including the eye of the commentators and the public watching all over the world. He said the ability to officiate well is a combination of a thorough knowledge and understanding of the laws of the game; physical fitness which improves the mental condition of the umpire; and proper preparation for the upcoming match.

“You must draw from your experience and the experience of others, look at matches and create a mental databank,” said Ramdhan. He urged them to be “firm, fair and fearless” in the execution of their duties and to always maintain the integrity of the game.

“Cricket is not about you or the players. It is about the game. And whatever is needed to help you must be employed including some rituals which affect the psyche and are very important just like what some may consider lucky socks or shorts, or the reading of a particular Psalm before the fixture.”

He recalled the wellknown routine of world famous Italian football referee Pierliugi Collina, who reposed himself for a full ten minutes before coming out unto the pitch with his eyes burning so fiercely some say it could penetrate walls.

“Umpires are the caretakers of cricket. You must learn to enjoy every moment, relax and have fun but never put yourself in a compromising situation since it could mean problems later on.

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