UKAF ACO member Ian Hopkins was delighted to have been asked to officiate the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Games in Birmingham during August.
Here is Ian’s report ……
You may or may not be aware that from 21 to 25 August, as a representative of Lincolnshire ACO and UK Armed Forces ACO, I was involved as an umpire in the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) World Games 2023, held in Birmingham.
I was initially selected to officiate in four matches: India Men v Australia as Match Referee, and England Women v Australia, Australia Men v Pakistan and India Women v England as an on-field umpire. At the conclusion of the Group matches I was further selected as an on-field umpire for the Men’s semi-final, Bangladesh v India.
I’ve been umpiring cricket since 2007 and have been involved with Blind/Visually Impaired Cricket since 2012. In 2011 I’d done a combined L1A/L2 umpires’ course at Pirbright and during discussion Mike Cornwell, one of the two course facilitators, casually mentioned that one way to get to grips with working with runners was to do blind cricket, because totally blind batters must have runners. That winter, in the ECB ACO magazine, Blind Cricket England & Wales ran an article asking for new umpires and I contacted them to say I was keen to volunteer. Interestingly my first match was with Mike, at Leamington Spa. I was introduced to the international format in 2016. In many respects, with the smaller ball, it is a totally different game, much more like what we in the VI community call “red ball” cricket. Opportunities to umpire international matches were few, simply because they just weren’t being played, but I kept my hand in by attending England training sessions, including a weekend in early August this year at the ECB National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough, and I made my debut as an international cricket umpire in the IBSA World Games 2023.
Over a week it was an amazing experience, umpiring as I was with umpires from different parts of the country, and indeed the world since Australia, India and Pakistan all sent an umpire to the Games. The level of experience was vast, with one of our number having recently umpired the ECB National Club Championship at Lord’s and another being a National Panel umpire. I learnt a great deal both on and off the field, and I am immensely looking forward to applying that learning in future games. The experience can only make me a better umpire in all formats of the game, and it will stand me in good stead as I seek to progress in the game.
If anybody is interested in finding out more about Blind/Visually Impaired Cricket, or even umpiring this format of the game, I can be contacted through all the usual channels.
(Picture is of Ian as one of the umpires for the India v Bangladesh fixture)