Friday, September 30, 2022

NZC: Stalwarts of the Game Pass

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It has been a sad couple of months for the umpiring fraternity in New Zealand with the falling of two giant Totara from our history.

Fred Goodall passed away on the 18th of October in Wellington, aged 83. Fred commenced umpiring in his native Greymouth as a 19-year-old before moving to Christchurch to attend university. On arriving there, he joined the then Canterbury Cricket Umpires Association. He quickly progressed through ranks, making his first-class debut in 1963 and then his test debut in 1965, the first of what ended up being 24 test matches, the last in 1988. Fred also had the distinction in 1973 of standing in the first-ever one day international played in New Zealand. Another 14 such appointments came his way. Fred retired from active umpiring in 1988, still very much right at the top

In the late 1980s, Fred moved to Wellington. In 1989 he started a role with New Zealand Cricket as the Umpire Trainer. In 1991, Fred designed and implemented the Regional Training Officer model that is still in use today. Fred’s experience as a school teacher of many years standing saw him introduce an attitude that training should be the front of any regional umpire gathering and not an add on to a business of the day type meeting. The RTO system will always be a legacy to Fred’s contribution to umpiring in many ways. In 1999 Her Majesty the Queen honoured Fred with Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport

Brian Aldridge passed away on the 9th of December in Christchurch, aged 81. Brian joined the then Canterbury Cricket Umpires Association in 1975, having played senior cricket for the Merivale-Papanui Club in the Christchurch Suburban Cricket Association competition. Also passing through the ranks quickly, Brian made his first-class debut in 1979 and then his test debut in 1986. Brian was standing at Lancaster Park with Fred at the other end on these debuts. In 1992 Brian was selected to attend and umpire in the ICC Cricket World Cup and was part of some exciting milestones in the history of international cricket. His first game was Australia v South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground, South Africa’s first game back in international cricket after the end of their isolation. Then later in the round-robin stage, Brian stood in the South Africa v West Indies match at Lancaster Park Christchurch. Significant in being the first-ever match between these two teams at any level of cricket. Brian, of course, went on the umpire the second semi-final between England and South Africa at the SCG and then the final itself at the Melbourne Cricket ground. The first and still only New Zealander to stand in a game of such significance. In 1993 Brian stood in test matches overseas as the ICC introduced the concept of neutral umpires in Test matches. His first such trip was to Colombo, Sri Lanka, in August 1993, where he found it was a little warmer there at that time of year than it had been in Christchurch when leaving home. Brian retired from active umpiring in 1995.

Like Fred, Brian’s legacy is just as significant off the field. In the 1980s, he was firstly Secretary and then President of the Canterbury Association. When they obtained an old run-down pavilion on Hagley Oval, Brian (a builder by trade) was project lead and manager as the members set about restoring what the oldest cricket pavilion still standing in New Zealand into a magnificent home for the local umpires and scorers is. In the mid-1990s, he was elected as President of NZCUSA. Then in 1997, he became New Zealand Cricket’s first-ever full-time umpire manager, a post he held until his retirement in 2008. Most of the umpires currently at the top level in New Zealand started their time in the Aldridge era, and his many innovations shaped the systems we all enjoy today. It does not end there, though. He also had a role fostering umpiring in the ICC East Asia Pacific region. The writer has personal experience of standing in New Zealand with umpires from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Japan and Indonesia as part of this programme.

In 2012 her Majesty the Queen honoured Brian with the Queens Services Medal for services to sport.

The whole of the umpiring and scoring fraternity offers to both Diana Goodall, Jan Aldridge and their families our deepest condolences for their loss. However, time has been called for both gentlemen and the stumps removed. It is time to retire to the pavilion with a job well done. Rest in peace, gentlemen. Your legacies will remain forever.

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