For many years umpires have been assessed by grading personnel from the boundary. This type of assessment has been particularly successful in Otago. New Zealand Cricket has introduced the concept this season, with some umpires coming through the ranks below first-class level cricket. Here, experienced assessor and Otago Regional Training Officer Allan Faithful discusses the process:
The aim of assessing umpires' is to observe the performance and potential of an umpire and fairly and concisely communicate and report any observations. It should be conveyed that it is a means to assist development and not a 'test' to pass or fail.
Pre-match contact by the assessor with both umpires should be made to confirm the assessment and obtain a profile of each umpire, thus building the assessor/umpire relationship.
The umpires should contact their colleague pre-match, discuss teamwork, establish some team goals, and set some individual goals. These goals or 'work-ons' offers the umpire a personal input into the assessing process.
The goals are discussed pre-match with the assessor to identify specific skills that can be focused on during the match, thus providing a platform for post-match feedback.
During the match, the assessor should observe the action on the field and the reaction of the umpires and players. Depending on the level, primarily observation of umpire teamwork, match and player management, relationships, attitude, confidence through body language and control, consistency in decision-making, and positive umpiring.
Logging events as they occur, with comments, provides for accurate recall for post-match discussions with captains, coaches and the umpires.
Discussion with coaches can assist with insight into the umpire's ability to develop a working relationship with the players. It may also reveal reaction to some decisions, but this should be forthcoming or tactfully obtained.
Post-match discussion with captains, be it together or each captain alone, can focus on communication, match and player management, coping with pressure and decision making. The captains should bring forward any concerns in these areas or be prompted through player reaction to an incident to bring forward any clarification of an incident.
Post-match discussion with the umpires may vary in approach. However, the assessor should deal openly, honestly and in a supportive way. He can offer tips and strategies but should firstly encourage the umpire to develop remedies or improvements, thus giving ownership of his/her development.
With both umpires together, the teamwork aspect can be covered, and this can start with them providing their assessment on how they went as a team and did they meet their pre-set goals. Discussion may also include how they think they could have done better and the assessor supporting any agreed remedies or improvements.
A One-on-One discussion with each umpire is probably preferable as this will allow for a broader, more relaxed de-brief. Again, the umpire can lead the conversation by assessing their performance. The assessor can report on achieving any goals set for the match. Utilising information gathered from coaches, captains and any observations, the assessor can support areas that went well and gain knowledge from the umpire on their perspective of any aspects of concern.
Assessor reporting should only contain what has been discussed, so there are no surprises when the umpire reads the report.
The umpire self-assessment report should also reflect what was discussed and any remedies for action; thus, the outcome of any strategies are documented in the following self-assessment.
Written by: Jeremy Busby (NZCUSA)