Kathy Cross is fast becoming a role model for aspiring umpires around the world.
Having already umpired in two Women’s World Cups, Cross is heading to India at the end of the month for the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup.
She became the second woman to ever officiate a New Zealand men’s major association one-day game and will umpire the Twenty20 games between the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars and New Zealand White Ferns at the Junction Oval in Melbourne next week.
Cross loves cricket and started playing when she was 33-years-old, for Naenae Women’s Cricket Club.
However, as her playing days came to an end, Cross recognised that there was an aspect of the game that would allow her to give something back to the sport she loves.
“In women’s cricket, we didn’t have officials. We umpired our own matches back then,” she explained.
“So when I decided I wasn’t going to play anymore, a friend of mine suggested that I might want to become an umpire.”
From there, it’s all happened quite rapidly for Cross, who says that the 2000 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand (her first) is a highlight of her career.
“I’d only just started umpiring a season or two before it.
“A colleague of mine said that I should make a goal towards that.
“I thought, yeah I can do that, no skin off my nose if I don’t get it. And then when I was selected to officiate, I was pretty stoked. ”
Another achievement for Cross was being the only female umpire to be selected in the Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in 2011.
In addition to this, she was selected to officiate in the third place play-off, an honour which means she ranked as one of the top four umpires of the tournament.
“I was gobsmacked. My view was that I was good enough to get there and that was awesome.”
Despite her success, Kathy has her feet firmly on the ground.
“I don’t look at other people and what they are doing. I always aspire to people that are higher than me but I don’t try and emulate them. I just want to be who I am.”
Cross says that she owes a lot of her success to Bill Sommer and Terry Knight.
“They were both first-class umpires and then became training officers.
“Being the only woman in that area, I just felt they gave me equal opportunity. They still support me, even to this day.”
Cross would love for her story to be used as encouragement for more females to become involved in umpiring.
“There aren’t many of us around, it’s a predominantly male domain. I would love to see more women become involved in the umpiring ranks.”
The advice she has for aspiring umpires is that you can never be over-prepared for a game and has already started preparing for next week’s games between Australia and New Zealand.
“I’ve been studying a few playing conditions each day, for example the right format and the weather I’ll be officiating in.”
She also explains how every match requires the same attention to detail.
“Every game deserves its own merits. The laws don’t change regardless of what level.
“We don’t have the benefit of television replay, so it all comes back to the human elements, what we see and what we hear.”
Cross describes her decision making as a process of elimination.
“It all comes back to our knowledge of the laws and then recalling and going through the process of that particular law.”
All this preparation puts Cross in a great position to umpire the games in Melbourne next week.
“I always look forward to these games. It’s always a really good contest between the New Zealand woman and the Australian woman.”
Despite believing that it might be out of her reach, Cross has an ultimate goal that she would love to achieve before she leaves the world of umpiring, which hopefully isn’t for a while.
“I would love to do a game at Lords with the women. That would be the pinnacle of my umpiring career.”
Given what she has already accomplished, nothing is out of reach for Kathy Cross.
If you want to become an umpire, visit http://www.cricket.com.au/get-involved/umpiring
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 18 January, 2013 11:18AM AEST