Umpire in running to score award

Making the hard calls and raising the finger

HAMISH CARDWELL
Last updated 08:07 24/01/2013
Vern Payne
Emma Allen

Blenheim man Vern Payne has been nominated for a nationwide competition to reward volunteer cricket umpires in New Zealand.

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A keen eye, cheeky sense of humour, and good people management skills have put a Marlborough man in the running for a nationwide competition to find New Zealand's favourite local cricket umpire.

Vern Payne began making the hard calls and raising the finger for the Marlborough senior A cricket league in 2011 after he and his wife moved here from Christchurch.

The 69-year-old has been involved in New Zealand cricket, mainly in Canterbury, for 50 years and has umpired for 25 years.

If he wins the competition, he will receive $1000, tickets to a Black Caps cricket game and one-on-one umpire training, all provided by eyewear company Specsavers.

Mr Payne said he was a bit overawed to be nominated for the award, especially since he had not been in the region for long.

"I want to get very involved in cricket in Marlborough, especially in terms of fundraising and getting more people involved."

He said there were not enough umpires in Marlborough and at times there were only two available when the minimum necessary was four.

Some people were put off getting involved because of the number of rules in cricket and the pressure placed on match officials, but umpiring had its upsides, Mr Payne said.

"You get the best possible view from behind the stumps and there is a lot of camaraderie in the game," he said.

A good umpire needed to know how to manage people and be consistent. A well-timed joke was a good way of keeping things calm when tempers were starting to flare, he said.

"It can defuse a situation when things get heated. A quick quip in a friendly way calms a situation. But I think the big thing is respect. If you can get it, you are half way there."

Mr Payne was out on the field six hours a day, two weekends in three, during the cricket season, and had no plans to give it up just yet. "I will keep umpiring until someone gives me the white stick. But I am turning 70 next week - I am no spring chicken," he said.

The winner of the competition will be announced in three weeks.

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- The Marlborough Express

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