The Spenser Wilson Halifax Cricket League has bucked local and national trends in its recruitment of umpires for the 2017 season.
While many leagues are losing officials hand over fist, the Halifax League has seen an incredible 36 per cent increase in numbers over the winter months, raising the number of its listed umpires from 49 to 67.
League spokesman Paul Whiteley said: “The league’s Umpires Association has done a magnificent job in the close season, particularly its president Ray Taylor and appointments secretary Andrew Mitchell.
“The recruitment process commenced immediately the season closed in 2016 and with some subtle advertising and contact methods the enquiries to join the panel started to come in.
“One major training course was held, coupled with smaller refresher ones for umpires coming back into the fold.
“An interesting fact was that the main course was held outside the league’s area but, of all the trainees, 70 per cent were future Halifax League umpires.”
Asked why the recruitment process had been such a success Whiteley said: ‘It was a combination of factors. Potential recruits were canvassed by telephone and the workings of the league fully explained to them.
“Major plus points were that the league has always remained faithful to the 45-overs per innings format and that the match appointments system is fully transparent, with the majority of appointments for the whole season being available as early as March.
“In addition the Umpires Association is an umpire friendly body looking after all its members. That may seem an obvious comment but there are no favourites, proven by the fact that its appointment secretary officiated in more lower division and second team matches last season than any others.”
The geographical cover of the Halifax League’s umpires now stretches from Keighley to Meltham and Batley to Todmorden.
However, the league is not resting on its laurels and would be pleased to receive enquiries from any person that may be interested in umpiring in this modern and forward thinking league by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.