Warwickshire opening batsman Ian Westwood has started planning for a possible future career as a county umpire by standing in Birmingham & District Premier League matches this season.
The 34 year-old left-hander made good use of an unwanted three months absence from the first team to gain his first experience of umpiring which may help to keep him in the game when his playing days are over.
Westwood started by umpiring second team matches at Moseley, his first club, but recently progressed to first team cricket. He is being assessed by Alan Seville, a former top Football League referee, and intends to follow up by going on umpiring courses this winter.
“I tend to chat to umpires when I am fielding at square leg and umpiring is something that I have been considering for a while,” Westwood said.
“When I play in the first team it tends to be only red ball cricket which leaves a bit of a gap. With not playing white ball cricket I have got more time than others to do other stuff.
“I spoke to Lynsey Williams, our PCA Personal Development and Welfare Manager, and she put me in touch with Chris Kelly, the ECB’s Umpires’ Manager.
“He came to see me and suggested that I get as much experience as I could while I was still playing which is what I have done.
“I started off umpiring Moseley’s second team and then the league got in touch and asked me to do some first team games. I have done Aston Manor v Fordhouses and Stratford v Shifnal so far and I have enjoyed it.
“There’s more to it from a technical aspect than I thought, things like how you signal fours and things like that which I hadn’t really considered. But I am being assessed by Alan Seville so you receive some constructive feedback.
“I have had no major issues in the games I have done so far and the players seem to have responded well to having a current player standing.
“At the moment I haven’t done any exams so I have been given special dispensation to get involved. There are various levels and courses you can take so I will look at doing some of those this winter.”
Westwood still has a year left on his contract at Edgbaston so has no immediate plans to retire but hopes that starting umpiring now will help smooth the transition into a possible new career in cricket.
“It’s getting more and more competitive to get into umpiring. The idea is that when I finish playing it’s an option rather than trying to go into it from a standing start,” Westwood said.
“By that time I will have done 20 or so games and got some qualifications and experience.”