Monday, February 1, 2021

significant debut in 144 years of Test Cricket

Jim Lillywhite was a slow left-armer with a high and accurate delivery, a hard-hitting lower-order batsman and a sound fielder. Five of his  close relations had played for Sussex – his partner was John Sheddon Swift, who was a wicket-keeper, not easy to imagine who they are !!

This morning the 3rd Test between India and Australia got underway at SCG.  Situated in Moore Park in the city's east, the Sydney Cricket Ground is one of the world's most famous cricketing venues. For a stadium in a major centre, it has a relatively limited capacity (a little over 40,000) but this has the direct benefit of ensuring that spectators are close to the action from virtually any point in the ground. Its limited capacity is, in fact, essentially the result of the extension over recent years of seating to most parts of a stadium now devoid of its long famous hill and instead dominated by the Brewongle, Churchill, O'Reilly, Noble and Doug Walters Stands. The green-roofed Ladies pavilion remains, still one of cricket's most famous landmarks.

Close to a century and half ago,  in Feb 1882,   Australia beat England by five wickets.  Spofforth and A. C. Bannerman were absent from the home team, but it was nevertheless a very strong one.  .. .. and today’s post is about a debutant – not Pucovski or Saini !!

Have experienced this at Chepauk .. .. most of us would get into the stadium early morning 3 or even 4 hours before the match.  In the morning, some players would come and warm-up – we would get delighted when Indian players wave to the spectators. Toss would make us go bonkers on the various possibilities. Then silence would descend .. .. a few minutes before the scheduled start, suddenly D stand would come alive – for they would have spotted the Umpires walking inside the pavilion with their hats !  .. .. .. and rest of the stadium would start cheering. Fielding Captain would enter the field, most likely their fast bowler would run in, take a few measures from the stumps marking their line-up; meantime the Openers would spring in (if it is Krish Cheeka – he would walk to the right side of his partner, staring at the Sun and chanting Aditya Hridayam !)

The rules of the game 2.1 :  Before the match, two umpires shall be appointed, one for each end, to control the match as required by the Laws, with absolute impartiality.  The umpires shall be present on the ground and report to the Executive of the ground at least 45 minutes before the scheduled start of each day’s play.

The debutant is special – it is Claire Polosak who is the first woman to officiate in a men's Test in its 144-year history.  Polosak, 32, is the reserve umpire at the third Test between Australia and India at the SCG.  Yes, for the first time in 144 years of Test-match cricket, a woman - Australia's Claire Polosak - has officiated in the longest format of the game, as the fourth or reserve umpire, in today’s  third Test between Australia and India,  at the SCG. on Thursday.

It is far from being the first time Polosak, 32, has led the way for women umpires. In April last year, she officiated in the final match of the World Cricket League Division 2 between Namibia and Oman. Earlier, in December 2018, she and Eloise Sheridan became the first women to officiate on the field together during a professional match in Australia when the Adelaide Strikers faced the Melbourne Stars in the WBBL. She was also the first woman to stand in an Australian men's domestic fixture in 2017 during the JLT Cup. In 2016, New Zealand's Kathy Cross and Polosak became the first women umpires to officiate at a T20 World Cup when they were at the Women's T20 World Cup in India. Polosak, who hails from New South Wales, was also part of the umpiring panel at the Women's T20 World Cup in Australia last year in February-March.



Polosak is part of Cricket Australia's supplementary umpire panel and the ICC development umpire panel. Her international umpiring career began in 2015 with appointment to the ICC women's T20 qualifying tournament in Thailand, where she stood in eight matches including the final. In addition to her experience in the men's game, Polosak has officiated in 17 women's ODIs, with an additional three as third umpire, and 33 Women's T20Is, with an additional five as third umpire.

Travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an all-Australian panel of officials, including match referees, for the four-Test series.  When she received a phone call from her umpiring idol Simon Taufel to tell her she'd been appointed to a JLT game, Polosak did a "bit of a jig" before calling husband Evan to tell him the news.  Claire Polosak never played cricket and failed the umpires' exam "a few times" but has risen the ranks.

The two men at the start, were the Umpires in that Test at Sydney in 1882.  Jim Lillywhite was a slow left-armer with a high and accurate delivery, a hard-hitting lower-order batsman and a sound fielder. He came from a notable cricketing family - five close relations had played for Sussex - and between 1862 and 1881 he appeared in all of Sussex's matches. He toured Australia six times, captaining England in the inaugural Test of 1876-77.   He also toured America in 1868 and for some years was secretary of the United South of England XI as well as being a more than capable umpire.  The other was John Sheddon Swift, from Melbourne Victoria who was a Wicketkeeper who played 1st class Cricket.  It was Test no. 6

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

7.1.2021.

  

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