HISTORY is set to be made on Saturday when two women umpires take their places in the middle for Downend’s home West of England Premier League clash with Bedminster.
Yvonne Dolphin-Cooper (pictured left) and Anna Harris have been appointed to this Premier Division derby, along with the South Wales Premier League match between St Fagans and Pontarddulais the following weekend, in what is thought to be a first in English and Welsh cricket at a level that consistently features county professionals.
It is hoped that the two appointments will highlight the fact that a growing number of women are now umpiring, and to encourage even more women to consider officiating at all levels of the sport.
Yvonne, who lives near Weston-super-Mare, and Anna, a second year Cardiff-based medical student who also plays for Wales as a batsman, were both appointed to stand in last year’s Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy and are staking a claim to feature in the new The Hundred competition which will launch in July.
Yvonne, 64, is an experienced umpire well known on the WEPL circuit as well as for officiating in visually impaired cricket, including an international between England and India.
Anna, 22, has already stood in the Thames Valley League for three summers and also completed a season in Melbourne.
Les Clemenson, chairman of ECB ACO (English Cricket Board Association of Cricket Officials), said that this game demonstrates there are unlimited opportunities for women officials, scorers as well as umpires, in today’s cricket.
He said: “As well as being an integral part of the game and benefiting from the physical and social aspects of the sport, becoming a cricket official also helps individuals to develop as people.
“Our members tell us that their ability to manage people, events and inter-personal conflict, all critical skills needed, has helped them at work and outside of the sporting arena.
“With the huge increase in the number of women playing cricket today, we want to encourage anyone interested in becoming an official to get in touch. We have programmes from 14-year-olds onwards and many people are still actively involved into their 80s.”
The West of England Premier League, meanwhile, are delighted to be playing their part in this new cricketing chapter.
Vice chairperson Chris Fortune said: “WEPL are exceptionally proud of the upcoming historic game, achieved by Anna and Yvonne.
“As a league, we pride ourselves on being both a forward thinking and inclusive network, and our officials remain one of the most valued components within our community.
“Diversity is fundamentally key to the growth and progression of our sport, and we are in full support of the ECB ACO’s range of initiatives to recruit and develop a large pool of diverse officials nationwide.
“Congratulations to both of our on-field officials, and for all of their hard work and commitment to their roles over a number of years.
“Our thanks also go to Downend CC and Bedminster CC for facilitating this momentous day.”
For more information on becoming an umpire, visit https://www.ecb.co.uk/be-involved/officials