Saturday saw some reasonable fine weather and on Sunday it felt like summer and the cricket season had finally arrived as local clubs entered the first round of the Lancashire Knockout competition.

One thing a game needs is officials which means two umpires and two scorers. They work as a team and it makes it so much easier if there are the required match officials.

Leagues often struggle for two umpires, especially where matches are played on both Saturday and Sundays. The North West Cricket League has recruited a few new umpires over the winter and they were looking forward to standing out in the middle. Some of them have found the pressure put on them by excessive appealing a bit off-putting. Umpires are entitled to have a bit of thinking time before making a decision, but to the batting side it may look as if pressure put on the umpire has led to giving a batter out. Some players think the louder and longer they appeal will force an umpire into giving a decision they want - for example, out!

I remember in my early days as an umpire having quite a battle with a professional who appealed almost every ball, especially if the ball hit the pads. My answer was not out and I did tell him his appealing was excessive. His reply was: “I am entitled to appeal” and my reply was: “And I am entitled to say not out and it be accepted.”

Since the new laws were re-written, excessive appealing is one of the criteria for a level ng1 behaviour offence which results in a team warning and if it occurs again, then five penalty runs are awarded .

Scorers also play their part and over the winter quite a few clubs have acquired new young scorers and yet some still find it hard to make sure they have a scorer. One match over the weekend had no official scorers until a young lad stepped in and did a really good job, so well done to him. There are plenty of experienced scorers within the league to offer advice should it be needed. We are very fortunate in that, and our scorers often meet to refresh the new updates on Play Cricket for electronic scoring.