Shortages in umpire numbers continue to plague all country sports and cricket is no different.
Attracting former players to umpiring is a key strategy in lifting numbers and Ashley Jennings is one example of how that is working.
Jennings is umpiring division one in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) after a long career playing the game.
His career started in Adelaide, playing lower grades of premier cricket and in a one-day competition that featured former Test players Rick Darling and Wayne Phillips.
Jennings had a 17-year hiatus from the game, spending 10 of those years doing off-road racing, winning South Australian state titles along the way.
His move to Warrnambool brought with it a return to cricket, playing five seasons at Merrivale and one at Woodford. He retired from the game in 2016-17.
“Halfway through my last season I knew I had had enough of playing,” Jennings said.
“I saw ads for umpires needed and I had done umpiring as a player in lower grades and I enjoyed that so I thought I would give it a go.
“This is my second season and I love it. You have to concentrate all day, 90 overs, 540 balls, you have stay focused, it’s never boring.
“The calls when the bat and pad are close together are the hardest and it’s tricky when the ball is spinning a bit.”
There is a self-imposed restriction of Jennings’ umpiring duties, with games featuring Woodford off limits.
Jennings’ son Alex is an established member of the Eels’ division one team.
The Jennings father-and-son combination did get to play together before dad’s retirement.
“We played some division three games together when Alex was 13 or 14, but he pretty quickly went past me,” Jennings said with a laugh.
With at least one Hampden league team having already started pre-season, the ever-increasing demands on local footballers continues to have an impact on cricket player numbers.
This photo (above) from January 1997 puts forward a sound argument that football in the winter and cricket in the summer is a good combination.
The photo shows a young Jonathan Brown batting for Wesley-CBC against Koroit. The bowler was another handy footballer, Neale Dobson, as was the wicketkeeper, Quinton Gleeson.
Brown, of course, went onto become a Brisbane Lions legend while Dobson and Gleeson were stars for Koroit.
For the record, Brown opened the batting this day and made 23.
WDCA team of the week
Nick Butters (Woodford) 90; Cam Williams (Russells Creek) 71; Andy McIntosh (Brierly-Christ Church) 56; Sam McCosh (Wesley-CBC) 50; Damith Ginimala Dewage (Dennington) 52 & 2-16; Nathan Murphy (Brierly-Christ Church) 22 & 3-17; Jack Sunderland (West Warrnambool) 42 & 4-23; Mitch Bowman (Wesley-CBC) 4-22; James Dalton (Wesley-CBC) 4-20; Weranga Bulathwala (East Warrnambool) 4-14; Glenn Moore (Russells Creek) 4-15.
GCA team of the week
Matt Boyle (Mailors Flat) 108*; Chris Arthur (Wangoom) 99; Ben O'Sullivan (Wangoom) 67; Liam Balcombe (Yambuk) 63; Daniel Boyle (Mailors Flat) 55; Oscar Sanderson (Killarney) 4-33; David West (Hawkesdale) 5-23 & 2-73; Joseph Whitton (Woolsthorpe) 4-59; Bailey Kelp (Purnim) 3-29; Lachie Glare (Hawkesdale) 3-29 & 2-14; Daniel Jones (Killarney) 3-38.
SWC team of the week
Steven Fisher (Camperdown) 104; Shane Slater (Mortlake) 60; Simon Densley (Noorat) 49; Simon Baker (Bookaar) 42; Shane Stephens (Camperdown) 46; Liam Geary (Terang) 32 & 4-8; Lahiru Fernando (Pomborneit) 3-18 & 17; Bayley Thompson (Heytesbury) 5-15; Simon Richardson (Camperdown) 5-16; Gus Bourke (Noorat) 3-27; Jack Lehmann (Mortlake) 3-7.
Dennington’s Brayden Beks has taken the role of all-rounder to a new level.
Playing for the Dogs’ division two team on Saturday, Beks had a go at all three cricketing disciplines.
Beks batted at number four, making 33, and then came on first change when the Dogs hit the bowling crease.
He claimed the first wicket of the innings before taking over wicketkeeping duties when the regular man behind the stumps had to leave early. Beks did well with the gloves, completing a stumping and taking a diving catch.
The Winslow Recreation Reserve may be a long way from the MCG, but that doesn’t mean cricketers at the ground are not looked after.
The reserve is the home ground of Grassmere Cricket Association (GCA) team Mailors Flat.
The playing surface is in great condition and there is also comforts for players waiting to bat or spectators to the games.
The mini grandstand at the ground is a popular vantage point to keep an eye on what is happening on the field.
It was a huge day behind the stumps for Wesley-CBC wicketkeeper Liam Couch on Saturday.
Couch took five catches as the Beavers bowled East Warrnambool-YCW out for a score of 55.