By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
WANTED! More men and women to swell the ranks of the Devon Association of Cricket Officials for the time when recreational cricket resumes.
The association – known in the sport as DACO – supplies officials at all levels of the game from schools and youth fixtures up to the Premier Division of the Tolchards Devon Cricket League.
DACO officials have gone up the ladder to the National Panel of Umpires, which is where appointments are made for the new National League (formerly Minor Counties), County 2ndXI competitions and the University Premier League.
Devon officials Roger Tolchard, Steve Lavis, Nigel Piddock, Paul Smith and Ray Allen are all National Panel members.
Women’s cricket is a growth area thanks to initiatives such as the softball Wine-n-Wickets scheme, which has encouraged lady players to clubs and prompted the creation of hardball teams playing league cricket.
Chris Shelton, the chairman and training officer for DACO, said although ladies are playing the game in greater numbers than ever before only a trickle of women are training as umpires and scorers.
Shelton said in this age of inclusion in sport, cricket has to start catching up with rugby and football, where female match officials are commonplace.
Devon is part of the ECB’s New Wave project, which is an initiative to boost participation in cricket among officials and players.
““As the new chairman of DACO, I am charged with increasing the number of lady officials we have representing our organisation,” said Shelton.
“The ideas is new initiatives such as Dynamos, All Stars and, in particular the Young Cricket Officials 2020, will help increase the number of young officials, particularly girls and young ladies.”
Shelton said only one lady official stands in Tolchards Devon League games. He wants to increase female participation as soon as possible.
“At the moment we have Marilyn McQueen, who is extremely well qualified and will get more experience this year on the DCL Premier panel,” said Shelton.
“Marilyn has already been given appointments for the new women’s 100 Competition, which shows the opportunities available.”
Shelton said two lady recruits attended one of the three training courses for new officials at the Exeter Court Motel earlier this year.
“Both passed their stage one qualification and have gone back to their clubs to gain more experience in the roles the wish to play,” said Shelton.
“When they are ready to take the next step to stage two and become panel umpires, the training will be available to them.”
The bulk of the candidates taking part in stage one training where past and present male cricketers looking to extend their careers.
Among those who passed stage one and stage two were former Devon cricket captain Matt Thompson, Plympton player and chairman Jon Goulder and Hatherleigh’s veteran seam bowler Richard Tidball.
A stage one umpiring course at Bovey Tracey in late May has been cancelled as a consequence of the coronavirus outbreak and no training dates are available at the moment.
However, Shelton is taking enquires from anyone interested in donning the white coat to get them ready for the time cricket resumes.
Anyone interested should drop Shelton an email to firstname.lastname@example.org call him on 07505 064775.