The time to concentrate is w hen the ball is in play . When a passage of play commences, the focus of attention should be broad, taking in a range of issues, for example:
- The readiness of the batsman.
- If appropriate, the locations of the fieldsmen.
- An awareness of attempts to distract the batsman by the wicket keeper or fieldsmen.
- Any plan or trap set by the fielding team to exploit a batsman’s weakness.
The umpire needs to be aware of such aspects and have them all under a broad field of observation.
As the bowler moves in so the umpire’s focus of attention narrows, the batsman is ready, the field is in the correct place, there is no attempt to distract the batsman, so now the umpire’s attention has progressively narrowed exclusively to the position of the bowler’s feet at point of delivery.
Immediately the ball is released the focus of attention moves quickly to the flight of the ball, and remains fixed on the ball. Some umpires may prefer to let the ball come into view rather than make a conscious effort to pick up the ball in flight.
Where next to focus attention is dependant upon the outcome of what the batsman does. If the ball is allowed to pass, the focus remains on the ball all the way into the wicket keeper’s gloves, or if missed by the wicket keeper, the focus broadens to take in the fieldsman and the batsmen running for byes.
If the ball is edged behind the wicket, the focus is on the ball until it is in the hands of the slip fieldsmen or wicket keeper, or if it passes them, the focus broadens to take in the fieldsman and the batsmen running.
If the batsman plays the ball to other parts of the field the focus broadens to take in the fieldsman and batsmen as necessary.
In the event of a potential run-out the focus will quickly narrow again from the fieldsman and the batsman running to the crease, the ball hitting the wicket or being taken by the wicket keeper or a fieldsman and the position of the batsman in relation to the popping crease.
If the ball hits the pads, the focus must be on recall and evaluation of all 5 components of LBW to decide the outcome of the inevitable appeal and then, if appropriate, quickly broaden to take in the fieldsmen and the batsmen in the event of leg byes. As soon as the ball is dead, the umpires should take the opportunity to relax, both physically and mentally. This routine is repeated for every ball throughout the match. To develop a successful routine takes practice, patience and persistence. In summary, the routine is as follows:
- As a passage of play commences, a wide field of observation with broad range of focus.
- As the bowler moves in, observation and focus narrows progressively to the position of the bowler’s feet at the point of delivery.
- After the bowler releases the ball, focus remains on the ball in flight or letting the ball come into your line of vision.
- After the batsman plays the ball, focus either remains on the ball or, if appropriate, broadens to take in the fieldsmen as well as the batsmen.
- If a run-out is on, focus progressively narrows to the batting crease, the putting down of the wicket and the position of the batsman. · When the ball becomes dead, broaden focus totally and relax, relax and relax.
The ability to concentrate can be acquired through the development of a set routine by practicing the routine at local club training sessions, and then consistently implementing it under match conditions and monitoring and evaluating how well it is done on a continuous basis.