Over 100 delegates were in attendance (+50%
of WACO Membership) and many remarked on an excellent days work and
The Conference was held at the superb Museum of Welsh Cricket (part of the
SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff) with Dr Andrew Hignell (Curator & Glamorgan
Scorer/Statistician) acting as mine host.
The day turned out to be an action packed event which also incorporated the
Wales ACO AGM.
Conference organiser (Steve Davies, Regional Chairman) modelled the day's agenda
on that of the hugely successful National Conference held at Lords the previous
November, but with an added 'Welsh theme' running through the day.
The Conference centred around four guest speakers,
- Prof David Collins, who repeated his excellent Lords presentation on the
Psychology Of Officiating.
- Jeff Evans, Professional Umpire and famous son of the small Carmarthenshire
village of Drefach.
- Robert Croft, the former Glamorgan and England player and current Glamorgan
and England Lions spin bowling coach.
- the ‘mystery guest’ was revealed to be none other than Dr Frank Duckworth
Also supporting the event were,
- Dr Andrew Hignell, Glamorgan Scorer, Archivist and Curator of Museum
- Nick Cousins, Head of ACO,
- Tony Hemmings, Deputy Chairman of ECBACO
- Sid Poole, London & South East Regional Chairman
- Geoff Trett, National Scorers Appointments Officer
- Martin Gentle, ACO Membership Services Manager
- Peter Hybart CEO Cricket Wales
- Gavin Hawkey, Business Manager Cricket Wales
- Peter Williams, Wales ACO Regional Education Officer
Ahead of the AGM and Conference Dr Andrew took some lucky early bird
visitors on a tour of the Stadium which is hosting the 1st Ashes
Test Match in July.
The Chairman of Wales ACO reported to the meeting on the significant
progress and development made within Wales ACO over the previous year. Regional
and County Officers were now in post in many of the areas (equivalent to
Counties in other Regions). A number of umpire Lev 1 courses had been run
meaning an upturn in umpire numbers with a corresponding increase seen in ACO
membership within Wales.
Steve opened the Conference with a few words of welcome before handing over
to Tony Hemmings who gave a report on the creation of the MoU between The ECB
Nick Cousins delivered a 'State Of The Nation' presentation which was not only
informative but kept to the agreed timescale - which is a first for Nick!
Professor David Collins then delivered his superb presentation on the
Psychology of Officiating which was very well received by conference attendees.
Time was called at 12.45pm for Lunch on the first day, and we were all treated
to an excellent buffet.
The afternoon session commenced with the attendees being asked to do some work.
As Steve reminded the audience, "we get more than our fair share of rain
in Wales so it seems appropriate to run a CPD session on wet weather
Usually the likes of Dr Andrew Hignell or Peter Williams would be asked to
deliver a short presentation on D/L or similar, but this time Steve told those
assembled that he was going to 'have a go at it'! This announcement was, as you
can guess, received with all the enthusiasm and groans appropriate to Wales
losing to England at the Millennium Stadium!
However interest within the ranks
picked up immediately when he announced that he was going to engage the help of
a friend, who "knows a little bit about numbers" as Dr Frank Duckworth was invited to join
Steve at the podium!
Dr Frank Duckworth and Peter Williams - and the Ashes Trophy.
An audible gasp
broke out as this wonderful octogenarian took centre stage and delivered a
fantastic story of how Duckworth / Lewis came about.
On completion of his fantastic presentation and a rapturous round of applause
from a hugely appreciative audience, the meeting then split into its Scorer and
Umpire breakout sessions.
RSO Kevin Probert, accompanied by Frank Duckworth, Andrew Hignell, Geoff
Trett + existing ACO Scorer Members were joined by a number of South Wales
Premier League Club Scorers (prospective new member campaign) in the Media
Centre at the SWALEC Stadium for a session on scoring matters and DLS in
REO Peter Williams, delivered an interactive and extremely thought
provoking presentation to umpire members on the subject of Player Behaviour and Discipline.
Peter's approach to the subject was deliberately controversial in order to
provoke a reaction - which it did! It was really interesting to see emerging
views that varied (hard line approach v the more pragmatic approach). Jeff
Evans took a full part in this debate counselling all on the common sense
approach rather than purely sticking to the letter of the law - an interesting
learning point for all!
Nick Cousins, doing his Michael Parkinson impression, then conducted a couple
of interviews with Jeff Evans and Robert Croft.
Jeff Evans - never a shrinking
violet is our Jeff! He enthralled the audience with his story of how he became
a Professional Umpire and then gave us a hugely interesting glimpse into being
one. What was refreshing to hear was the degree of 'common sense' applied by
umpires to match situations, ensuring wherever possible that the game goes
forward in a sensible manner.
Jeff Evans and Nick Cousins
Robert Croft - this favourite son of
Wales from the small West Wales village of Hendy entertained the audience with
his humorous and in fact riotously funny stories and anecdotes which Robert has
compiled over the last few years based on some career highlights! His
impersonations of the likes of Sir Vivian Richards, Waqar Younis and Duncan
Fletcher have rightly earned Robert the accolade of being a highly accomplished
After Dinner speaker. Robert also showed his caring and more sensitive side
when talking about the game of cricket and the benefits of being involved in
such a great game.
Robert Croft in Full Flow!
Simon Cussons was recognised for his contribution to the Management
Services Committee with Hon Life Membership of the ECBACO.
Dr Andrew Hignell was recognised for
his membership of the ECBACO Board as well as providing the superb venue (the
Museum Of Welsh Cricket) for the Conference
- ICC Umpires Shirt from World Cup – was won by Richard Penney
Signed/autographed Wales Rugby Jersey 2015 squad – won by Billy Evans
Feedback from attendees
Just a couple of cars made
the long trip from North Wales this time. However, next time we’re ALL coming!
Excellent event and it has really helped to build bridges and excellent
relationships between umpiring and scoring colleagues across the whole of
Wales.- Richard Penny North
I would like to congratulate you on a first class event. I really
enjoyed the speakers especially Mr Duckworth and Robert Croft, who were
informative and funny. I’ve been to a Welsh ACO meeting’s before at LLandrindod
Wells, well, today’s event was like chalk and cheese. At the end I just wanted
to get into Welsh Cricket and am inspired to meet more of our southern
colleagues, because were all one team. Great effort, well done! - Dave Jones, North Wales ACO
we didn’t know what to expect, but the day turned out to be a hugely enjoyable
experience for all members attending – well worth the trek from West
Wales! - Allan Hansen Pembrokeshire ACO
Excellent meeting yesterday. Good
structure and balance of motivation and information. The
self-development element was a very good section to get people thinking outside
their comfort zone and to help them understand the reasons why behave / make
decision in a certain way. I took a lot from that. Having Jeff &
Crofty share experiences I thought was a good way to put the game and role of
the umpires into context, I am sure people will take a lot from that, I know I
did. The venue, organisation and food were all top class.
Gibbs South West Wales ACO (newly qualified Lev 1 Umpire)
Yesterday was a testament to
you and your superb organizational ability. What an enjoyable AGM, I thought
the Wiltshire AGM's were good and difficult to surpass but you done that with
ease and maintained your timetable. Its got my enthusiasm back and Jeff Evans
has certainly brought home to me the fact that you have to love the game, which
I do, and it does not matter what the level of cricket is.
There was not one part of the meeting that was
not interesting and enjoyable, even the coach trip was fun and full of
interesting stories and not all of them cricket related.
Thanks for both organising and chairing a
fantastic day. John Wiltshire (new WACO member just moved from
Many congratulations to all involved and especially yourself for
yesterday.It was an outstanding event. As you know being a cricket umpire
can be isolating at times and to all get together on what was
predominately a social occasion was fantastic. I can't remember the
last time I laughed so much whilst listening to Crofty reminiscing even if
there was a bit of artistic licence! Let’s hope it becomes a permanent
fixture in our list. – Robert Charlton, South East Wales ACO
A most enjoyable day! I thought all the guests were
interesting and entertaining and some of the debate was quite thought
provoking. It was good to
catch up with local colleagues but I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to
meet colleagues from out of my area, as it were, and put names to faces etc. All in all, an excellent concept and one which I think
should become a fixture in our calendar. Many
thanks once again for your efforts. – John Furnham SEWACO
thought it was an excellent event, and well justified me getting up early and
missing lunch at Newport Cricket Club! I enjoyed every part of the programme, which was varied and
allowed quite a bit of welcome moving around (well, for the scorers, anyway)!
The highlight for me was Frank Duckworth’s talk. Having read his (and Tony’s)
book, I’ve always wanted to hear him speak, and it was an excellent half an
hour or so. My thanks to everyone involved! - Philip Stallard Scorer & SEWACO
asked for feedback at yesterday’s conference and I will use only one word to
describe it. Brilliant! The
quality of the speakers, the use of top Welsh people, Jeff Evans and Robert
Croft, set the tone for an event that was, in my opinion, better than that at
Lord’s last year. Crofty with his stories, told with realistic voice
impersonation, was a riot. You and your wife deserve much praise for this, you
for the organisation and she for permitting you to take the vast amount of time
involved in being our Chairman. Thank God I asked you to become the Llanelli
Branch Chairman when I did. I
look forward to this conference becoming an annual event. Congratulations to you both.
– Derek Rees CPO SWWACO
Frank Duckworth – my presentation usually takes one
hour, so your challenge to cut it down to half of that time was a challenge!
Still, I got the impression that all present understood my story and I was
really pleased that I finished at the 29 minute point!
Martin Gentle - Probably one of the
best ACO Conferences I have been part of!
Steve Davies – When organising
events like this it’s always a worry – will it snow, will all the speakers turn
up, will all the delegates turn up, what have I forgotten! Well fortunately on
this occasion it all went according to plan!
Prof Collins was excellent, Jeff was brilliant (and couldn’t wait to
‘put something back into the ACO) whilst Crofty was – Crofty! (I’ve known
Robert since he was a young lad, in fact whilst a player at Swansea Cricket
Club he taught my son how to hold a bat. I first heard Rob speak at his Benefit
Dinner at St Helens some 20 years ago and even then you could tell he’d have a
second career someday – today he was just fantastic. PS: his services were
without charge – again another Welshman wanting to support Welsh cricket –
The highlight of the day however MUST
be that wonderful fellow Dr Frank
Duckworth- he stole the show with his infectious enthusiasm for cricket! As
he told us, and even to this very day, every time his wife is watching cricket
on the television and the cameras pan to the scoreboard Mrs Duckworth jumps out
of her seat to point at the D/L score and shouts, “that’s you that is”! A
lovely throw away one liner that encapsulates just what a lovely man we had the
pleasure of listening to!
Our only problem
with the day was the conundrum of "how to follow that" next time!
Finally my heartfelt
thanks to all who helped make the day a wonderful experience!