It’s a world first — words that are already liberally scattered across Kathy Cross’s umpiring C.V.
For the first time, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has selected four women as match officials for the upcoming ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier, which will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, from 28 November to 5 December 2015 — and Kathy (Kathleen) Cross is among them.
Our most experienced female umpire will be joined by Australia’s Claire Polosak, England’s Sue Redfern and the West Indies’ Jacqueline Williams, watching over eight international sides: Bangladesh, China, Ireland, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, Thailand and Zimbabwe, all fighting it out for just two available spots in the ICC World Twenty20 that will take place in India at the end of this season, the women's tournament (which will feature the New Zealand WHITE FERNS) to be staged alongside the men’s event from 11 March to 3 April 2016.
Like New Zealand Cricket, the ICC is wholly committed to the development and encouragement of women in cricket, and anticipates that the high profile appointments will inspire more women to become involved in officiating and participating in the game.
The quartet will be joined by fellow umpires Allan Haggo and Nigel Morrison with Graeme Labrooy as match referee.
Taumarunui-born Cross is a familiar presence in top level New Zealand cricket and most recently stood in the Georgie Pie Super Smash game between the Devon Hotel Central Stags and Mighty Ape Wellington Firebirds at Saxton Oval.
It was only the second time a female umpire has done so in domestic T20 history, and Cross was the first in the world to achieve it in 2006/07; and in the WHITE FERNS’ home series against Sri Lanka, which finished on Sunday, also at Saxton Oval.
Cross has also stood at men's Ford Trophy level and became the first woman to be named on an ICC umpires’ panel when she was added to the ICC Associate and Affiliate panel of umpires in 2014.
She had previously umpired in the ICC Women’s World Cups in 2000, 2009 and 2013, the Women’s World Cup Qualifier in 2011, and the Women's World Twenty20 Qualifier in 2013.
In recent years, Cross has also worked in men’s international senior events, including the ICC World Cricket League Championship Divisions 3 and 5.
“Each tournament brings something new for women’s cricket and this latest development hopefully shows that the quality of umpiring is getting better and better, as the calibre of teams is certainly improving,” Cross remarked.
“I've enjoyed the experience of officiating in different parts of the world, but I have been alone, as a woman, in the middle for quite some time. So, it’s great for all of us to have this opportunity in Thailand this week at such an important tournament. I think that the selection of four women can set down a pathway for more people to come through the system.”
Cross, of Ngāti Maniapoto descent, played the game herself, as a wicketkeeper, before switching to umpiring in 1998.