AS a consequence of what is happening at Yorkshire County Cricket Club and beyond, umpires in local league cricket could be even more under the spotlight next season.

That is the fear expressed by Neil Johnson, chairman of the Bradford League Match Officials’ Association (BPLMOA).

Making his address at their inaugural annual meeting at Cleckheaton Sports Club, Johnson said: “For the future, we have all seen and read the current problems within the game we love, and even more so connected to our beloved county.

“I have no doubt that over the next season the spotlight will be on us as umpires and how we handle ourselves and the players on the pitch.

“My message to you is simple – carry on without fear, favour or prejudice, hold your head up high, deal with people as you wish to be dealt with yourself.

“We are all human and we all make mistakes at times. If you do, be honest. No-one will ever agree about lbw decisions and we don’t have the benefit of reviews (unless you are at New Farnley, where there is live streaming).”

Johnson also admitted: “The last two seasons have been the most testing times that I think any of us have had during our careers, playing, umpiring, scoring or watching a game – leagues disrupted, matched cancelled at an hour’s notice, no Priestley Cup, Shield or Jack Hampshire competitions – I mean even two World Wars didn’t manage to stop two of those.

“Through the hard work of the league management board, with a little bit of help from yourselves, we had some cricket last year, albeit not the same as other years, but then what was?

“For this, I wish to thank you all for your commitment, assistance and patience you have both Nigel (A Thornton) and myself in relation to the appointments, and also from the management board, clubs and players, who without your assistance it would have been a hurdle too far.”

On 2021, he said: “We did get a full season, and all the competitions, winners, losers and even promotion and relegation (although some may say that we should have gone another year before we returned to that).

“Teas started to appear at most grounds and, more importantly, drinks in the bar after the game.”

On the issue of umpires being more in the spotlight, a lively discussion then followed over what constituted acceptable banter and what should be considered over the top.

BPLMOA president Glyn Pearson stated: “It is zero tolerance, and umpires should make that clear at the toss.”

Thornton claimed: “We cannot cover second XI cricket,” admitting the need for more umpires to come on board.

“2020 had its challenges, as did this season. Our numbers were reduced and hopefully we will get more umpires. We tried to keep travelling down and last year we managed to cover all first-team games, even with last-minute changes.”

The meeting then had a consensus over what do if clubs failed to submit match marks for umpires, which happens far too regularly, with points deductions being seen as a bigger deterrent than fines.

League secretary Chris Leathley said: “The relationship between umpires, captains and players needs to improve. Yours is the only impartial view at a match.”

BPLMOA officers elected – Chairman, Neil Johnson; administrator, Nigel A Thornton; welfare and safeguarding officer, Helen McGuire; appointments officers, Johnson and Thornton; umpire development officer, Martin Casey; participation officer, Steve Malone.