Date: 22nd Jul 2018
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Date: 13th July 2017


Davy no longer to the locker

There should be no shortage of spectators at Cricket Path on Saturday when New Brighton visit Formby for a match involving two teams who have so far experienced contrasting seasons in the Liverpool Gin Liverpool Competition.

Both teams will probably have very fine cricketers on show and the game will be as well contested as ever in the ECB Premier League. The umpires, however, will be probably content enough if their work is barely noticed except by those who understand how vital good umpiring is to any game of cricket. And Saturday’s match will be umpired by one of the very best in the business.

But Dave Jones is retiring at the end of this season. After 40 years and over 1500 matches, nearly 700 of them in the Liverpool Competition, he will take off his white coat in September and is adamant that he will not don it again. “I’m 75 and I’m knackered,” he said with the clarity and concision cricketers have come to respect and appreciate.

Jones began umpiring at Liverpool CC but was quickly taken on to the panel when the Merseyside Cricket Umpires Association (MCUA) became responsible for the appointment of officials. He has been one of the guiding influences in the MCUA and one of its wisest heads.

In 1995, he umpired the National Village Final 1995 at Lord’s and he also officiated at a benefit match for Imran Khan’s hospital in which Sachin Tendulkar, Waqar Younis, Mohammed Azharuddin played. Those are just a couple of the highlights in Jones’s career, although he regards watching Wasim Akram bowl for Lancashire’s second team when he was returning from injury as the best thing he has seen. “It was just the ultimate,” he said.

Yet while the big days feature prominently in Jones’s recollections, his most important contribution to the game has probably been the impact he has had on generations of Liverpool Competition cricketers, hundreds of whom have enjoyed their sport more because it has been officiated by one of the coolest heads and best man-managers in recreational cricket.

Four decades’ officiating at the top level of club cricket also make Jones very well qualified to comment on the prickly topic of players’ behaviour, an area in which the one-way critics are also quick to deride the present generation.

“The game is now noisier but I don’t think the behaviour is any worse because of that,” he said. “None of today’s players behave as badly as a few of them used to a good while ago and those who do misbehave know that the Liverpool Competition’s committee will do something about it and that’s to the Competition’s great credit. But it’s often down to the umpires to be able to deal with these things and it’s a question of man management.”

If he was offered the chance to end his career by officiating during one duel between two cricketers, Jones would choose to watch John Hitchmough batting against the Ormskirk left-armer Phil Unsworth, although he would not object too much if Unsworth was replaced by Abey Kuruvilla at his best.  

“I was at Liverpool when John arrived from Wavertree and I very much involved with his development,” said Jones. “He practised and practised and he didn’t know how good he was. I also loved watching Phil bowl and I’d be happy to see those two pitted against each other.”

Yet in September it will all be over and Jones will have to find something else to do with his Saturdays. “I cannot stand watching cricket because I have to be out in the middle with all these great players,” said the man who has spent nearly three continuous years of his life umpiring cricket matches.


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