‘Brilliant’ experience for umpires Yvonne and Anna

UMPIRES Yvonne Dolphin-Cooper and Anna Harris reflected on an “absolutely brilliant” afternoon after the pair made history by taking their places in the middle for Downend’s West of England Premier League home clash with Bedminster.

It is thought to be the first time two women have stood together at the highest level of recreational club cricket in England and Wales.

And after officiating over a five-run derby success for Downend, they are now preparing to team up again on Saturday for a South Wales Premier League encounter between St Fagans and Pontarddulais in an initiative to highlight the fact that a growing number of women are now umpiring and to encourage even more girls and women to consider officiating at all levels of the sport.

Yvonne, aged 64, said: “The game was played in the best of spirits and we were made to feel very welcome from the moment we arrived.

“We were here to do a job and just got on with it. It’s been absolutely brilliant.”

Anna, 22, added: “We’ve stood together before but it’s been great to do this.

“There were a few loud appeals, a few close calls and probably more atmosphere than we are used to but that was all part of the fun.

“I hope we’ll receive an equally warm welcome when we’re the other side of the bridge next weekend.”

The game was a tremendous advert for Premier League cricket after it started on time despite days of heavy rain, and went right down to the final ball after swinging one way and then back again.

Downend captain Brandon Gilmour said: “We were aware before hand that history was being made and that it was a big day, but once we got under way we were concentrating on the match and didn’t notice who the umpires were.

“In that respect it was a normal game and the umpires just happened to be women. They controlled the match very well.”

Bedminster counterpart George Drissell added: “It’s great for the sport that we’re finally going in this direction, in all honesty it probably should have happened before.

“The umpires did well. They were here because they’ve come up through the different levels and proved themselves, and from a player’s point of view it was no different from any other game.”

Chris Fortune, vice chairperson of WEPL, added: “We’re tremendously proud of this inclusive day.

“Anna and Yvonne are true ambassadors for WEPL and today reinforces our initiative to be as diverse and welcoming as we possibly can as it results in a better cricketing world.”

Pictured, left to right, are Yvonne Dolphin-Cooper and Anna Harris. Image by Martin Bennett.

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