Handberg’s good call
Friday, 12th October, 2018
By Tyler Hannigan
The 2018/19 cricket season will see a change in scenery for one of Broken Hill’s best players with Matthew Handberg set to take up umpiring.
Handberg, who played over a decade of senior cricket with the West Robins and represented Murray Districts/Barrier on a number of occasions, has decided to hang up the whites and break out the black slacks and sandshoes this summer.
“It’s something I’ve weighed up for a while now actually,” Handberg said of his decision to take up umpiring.
“I like the idea of still being involved with the sport but having a year off of having to commit to the trainings and other stuff that comes with playing the game.
“That’s part of the reason I’m doing it...and the idea of actually being able to contribute to Broken Hill cricket. Umpires in town are few and far between.”
At this stage, Handberg looks to be the only fulltime umpire for the Barrier District Cricket League (BDCL) with Jason Maalste stepping back into the playing ranks.
Maalste did a fantastic job last season as the sole umpire for A Grade but received unwarranted criticism from certain players and looks unlikely to return to the role this season.
With only one umpire at this stage, one A Grade game per round will be officiated by the participating teams as has been the case for a number of years. An exception to this could be T20 double headers with players or umpires from the early game backing up to do the late game.
B Grade will also likely have to umpire themselves, although with one game being played on Sunday in the early part of the season, A or B Grade players from Saturday could officiate the Sunday games.
Handberg is hoping that other past players, or even those like him who are still able to play but aren’t able to commit, come out and umpire even just for a few games.
“I know as a player that the last thing you want after fielding in the heat for 40 overs is to then go straight back out and umpire before or after you have a bat,” he said.
“I’m very much hoping so (that others put their hand up to help). Having gone to the BDCL AGM and saying that I was looking to umpire, then before you know it I was made Umpires Coordinator, so if people want to put their hands up then by all means.
“Ideally we’d have four umpires each weekend to cover all the games.”
With the season quickly approaching, Handberg admits that he hasn’t quite settled on an umpiring style.
“I’m really looking forward to it but haven’t worked on my umpiring technique yet,” he said.
“I’ve received a bit of guidance from my mate (former West cricketer) Andrew Henry who said I should be like the old South African umpire Rudi Koertzen with the slow finger raise from behind my back but I’m not sure yet.”
While Koertzen - nicknamed ‘Slow Death’ - is one option, Handberg could also look to the flamboyant New Zealander Billy Bowden who was well-known for his extravagant signals or fours and sixes as well as the crooked index finger when giving a batsman out.