On Saturday morning we went to see little Millie at her dance class and took her for a ’coffee and gingerman’ afterwards. Coffee is actually a chocolate baby chino, but her parents have always taken her out to places with them and she enjoys the grown up feeling of going for a coffee. 
Rain stopped play 
Proud grandad 
After taking her home to mummy and daddy we set off for Pontefract to pick up a consignment of pork pies for consumption at my Saturday evening gathering in Beverley. 
 
The pies were still in the oven when we arrived, so we went for a cup of tea and checked on the state of play around the grounds. I have promised our old friends at Appleby Frodingham that I’d pop in and see them during the season and this seemed like a good opportunity, as I’d be a bit closer to home afterwards. Sadly, and quite unusually however, their game was off, so we decided to go to Field Lane – as near as anywhere to Pontefract. 
 
By the time we got there, however, the weather was starting to close in, and we saw very little play before the players were forced off the field. This gave me a chance to have a chat with the umpires and some of the players from both teams. The rain cleared up after about half an hour, but despite the sterling efforts of Chris Froggett and his helpers, no further play was possible before the rain returned just after 7pm. 
 
We were so lucky with the weather last season that the frustrating consequences of rain were not foremost in our minds – but after ten matches of the current season it is a completely different picture. On Saturday I had feedback from three of our grounds about the consequences of the weather – concerns about being told to play in unsuitable conditions, frustrations about not being allowed to play, and lack of enthusiasm of a home team to ‘get the game on’ in a ‘losing’ position. None of these are new – after 40 years of umpiring I understand them only too well. I have heard complaints about lack of consistency – I understand where they are coming from but I also understand the difficulty of getting thirty plus umpires, and club officials, to look at all situations in a consistent way. 
 
What can we do though? Since Saturday night I have been talking to some of the umpires and our committee members. The umpires will be discussing ground, weather and light issues at their mid-season meeting – they will discuss feedback and look at guidance. At the same time, and to complement this, I want to issue some information to clubs. This will cover the responsibilities of the different parties, and will provide information about the official guidance to umpires. I think that the more information we can provide, the more understanding and good practice we can promote, the better we can work together and hopefully reduce frustrations. 
 
I hear cynics say that there will always be teams who will want to play in a given situation and teams who don’t, that you’ll never get everyone to look at things in the same way, etc – but if you just accept that and do nothing, we will never improve, frustrations will continue and – this is the bottom line – we potentially lose people to the game. I believe that it is my responsibility to listen to our clubs and try to take whatever action I can to improve matters. So I am focussing on communication – the final decision in these circumstances will always rest with the umpires, but if I can get everyone to understand the guidance a bit better, that might help! 
 
The consequence of all this on the field on Saturday was that Doncaster, who managed to achieve a DLS win, strengthened their position at the top of the table, and Treeton profited from the flexibility to reduce overs before the start – playing a 30-over match in which they beat Barnsley to jump up to fourth in the table. 
 
I managed to forget all about rain for a couple of hours on Saturday night. Our little gathering was reduced due to a health issue and a fire on a train, but half a dozen of us chewed the fat (and the excellent pork pies) over a variety of issues – and I had four pints of York Brewery Otherside IPA to celebrate a great win by the Rovers! 
 
The reduced amount of cricket meant that weekly bulletin did not take too long to do on Saturday morning – I decided to leave the statistical section for another week and hopefully update it after a full round of matches this Saturday. In the afternoon, we had our usual visitors for tea. It was the last time that there would be just the five of us as Lucy was scheduled to go into hospital, where their second child would be born, on the Tuesday morning. As it was Fathers’ Day, Gavin and I got to choose the menu – we went for a full roast (he is very partial to stuffing cake) and Bakewell tart (my favourite) which we washed down with a nice red. I did very well, being given a polo shirt, a lovely framed photo of Millie, a lemon tart – and a rather fruitily-worded Father’s Day card (which would have to be removed from sight if the apocryphal maiden aunt came to visit!). 
 
On Monday, I spent most of the day on the weather issues, eventually coming up with some draft guidance, which has subsequently been amended and is now back with the umpires’ association for agreement. On Tuesday morning I went out to do an errand from Gavin mid-morning, and returned to hear the news that George had been born just after 11am – and, of course, the news that we all really wanted – that mother and baby were doing well! A little brother for Millie, and a boy to carry the Pugh name into the next generation!! We went to see them on the evening, and I had my first little chat with him. Yesterday there was a consignment of new baby clothes to wash and dry and we went to visit George and his mummy again in the evening. I had another chat with him, during which he went to sleep, and when I kissed him good night there was a loud report from his nether regions – which I am sure he felt much better for! 
In between all this I finished off a consultation document on league restructuring, that can be discussed at the forthcoming captains’ meeting on 3 July, revised the weather document, and put something on our website about Sunday’s t20 finals. 
 
Today, I am going to meet Gareth Davis and Steve Ward to firm up some details on our new Participation Manager role. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to take advantage of some decent weather and do some drive weeding, and on Saturday we will be at the disposal of Gavin and Lucy to look after Millie, cook some tea, and whatever else may be needed. 
 
Then, on Sunday, we will be at Shaw Lane for the t20 finals day. This has become a highlight of the YSPL calendar, which this year has special significance for me in that it is the first time that our overseas players have been able to play. This is the culmination of much campaigning by some of us Premier League chairmen to allow clubs to play their normal Saturday teams in ECB competitions. 
 
We have three of the top four in the table in action, along with Cawthorne from the SYSCL, and the weather forecast is promising – so it promises to be another memorable day, and I hope that there will be a good attendance. Good luck to all – and may the best team win! 
 
Till next week, 
 
Roger 
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