Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Umpiring role model helps Treloar blaze a trail
NSW umpire set to graduate to Sheffield Shield ranks after several years honing his craft, with former top official Simon Taufel proving an inspiration
Like so many aspiring young cricketers across the globe, Ben Treloar's resolve to pursue a career in the game came after identifying a role model who had blazed a trail to the international arena.
The difference for Treloar - then turning out for Auburn in Sydney's Shires Competition, where his talents with bat and ball did not quite do justice to his passion for cricket - was that his hero wasn't a superstar player but an umpire, Australia's Simon Taufel.
Almost 15 years after Treloar mothballed his playing kit in favour of on-field official's apparel, he will stand in his maiden Marsh Sheffield Shield match when South Australia plays New South Wales at Adelaide Oval from Saturday.
And as he prepared for the next step in an umpiring journey that has thus far taken him from NSW Premier Cricket to national and international age competitions, then from Rebel WBBL to the Marsh One Day Cup, the 38-year-old revealed a catalyst for his ascent.
"I guess that ambition can start when you’re first making your way and you see someone on TV you want to emulate, and for me that was Simon Taufel," Treloar said of the former umpire who made his Test debut two decades ago at age 29.
"I could see a young guy umpiring at the highest level and that provided some aspirations for me to umpire at the highest level of cricket I could reach.
"Since then, it's probably been a bit of natural progress.
"You just keep trying to get better every day and I'm just really grateful for the opportunities that Cricket Australia and the NSW Umpires' and Scorers' Association have provided.
"To be able to umpire continually high-level cricket has provided the experiences to develop and improve, which have culminated with this opportunity coming up in Adelaide."
It was Taufel, who retired from umpiring in 2012 after 74 Tests and more than 200 ODI and T20I appearances during which he won the ICC's highest umpire accolade in five consecutive years, that proved inspiration for Treloar to pursue higher honours.
But the budding umpire had initially found himself drawn to the role in adolescence although he acknowledges he might not have realised it at the time.
Treloar was just 16 when he accompanied his father to an evening course on cricket laws held in the Parramatta district of Sydney where he was playing, a competition where members of batting teams were often called upon to officiate in games due to the absence of formal umpires.
"I just wanted to know more about the game and understand how it was played and how the laws were applied," he told cricket.com.au this week.
"If I was batting in the top-order – which I did for a bit – but didn't spend a lot of time in the middle, I'd then be called on to do 10-over stints as a player-umpire where you basically umpire your own team.
"And after 10 overs of that, I was enjoying it so much I wouldn't come in for another 20 or 30 overs.
"I just really enjoyed the experience of getting out in the middle and being involved in the game for longer periods of time than I was able to as a player."
By the time he reached his early 20s, Treloar's interest in umpiring had grown to the point he undertook a five-night laws course with New South Wales Cricket Umpires' and Scorers' Association (NSWCUSA) and earned his umpiring accreditation.
For a year after that he combined his Saturday afternoon Premier Cricket playing commitments with Sunday umpiring stints as a member of the Sydney Shires Cricket Umpires' Association before making the choice in 2006 to concentrate solely on officialdom.
He stood during the 2017 under-19 series between Australia and Sri Lanka in Hobart, and was appointed to Cricket Australia's supplementary umpires panel the following summer when he was installed as fourth umpire in the women's Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval.
Treloar made his List-A debut in the South Australia-Tasmania Marsh One-Day Cup fixture at Karen Rolton Oval last summer, and was set for elevation from off-field official in KFC BBL|10 to a central umpire's role until a COVID19 outbreak in Sydney meant he was unable to attend matches.
Not that he found that unfortunate turn of events frustrating.
"It would have been great to be involved a bit more, but I'm just happy that the game kept going," he said.
"We're just a small part of it, and the bigger picture is the game continued and matches were played."
It's also just over a year since Treloar made the decision to turn his life's passion into his livelihood.
Having spent 15 years working in a factory as a furniture restorer and cabinetmaker before entering the NSW education system as a TAFE lecturer then secondary school teacher in woodwork skills, in late 2019 he took up a position as education officer with NSWCUSA.
"It's umpire education, working full-time in umpiring," he said of his new job.
"I love the teaching and I'm still doing it now - I'm educating umpires."
His own learning curve will take a sharp rise when he walks to the middle of Adelaide Oval with partner Michael Graham-Smith to officiate in his maiden Marsh Sheffield Shield game, two days after the pair took charge of the One Day Cup game between the same teams.
Treloar admitted he "can't wait" for Saturday to arrive and claimed he's not daunted by the prospect of adjudicating on Test stars Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and David Warner (NSW) as well as Travis Head (SA).
"I think you have to go into every match with the same attitude which is, for those playing, it's their Test match regardless of what grade it is or what level of cricket you're umpiring," he said.
"So in terms of the players involved, nothing will change with who's out there and we'll prepare as always and go out to perform our role to the best of our ability."
Treloar also continues a recent trend of younger additions to the nation's first-class umpiring ranks, with three of the past 10 to graduate to Shield ranks aged below 40 upon debut.
What will be sadly absent from his milestone match on Saturday is representatives of the network of family and friends who have supported him in his evolution from grassroots player and full-time teacher to first-class umpire.
Treloar's wife, Yvonne, and young son (Victor) will be at home in Sydney where the couple two weeks ago welcomed their first daughter, Antonia.
But he remains deeply appreciative of the sacrifices many have made from the time he attended that first course in cricket's laws as a 16-year-old to his arrival among the ranks of Australia's Sheffield Shield umpires, a cohort stretching back almost 130 years and numbering nigh on 400.
"It's the culmination of a long period of time, a lot of sacrifices and a lot of commitment towards reaching a goal so it's going to be really nice for all those supporters who have put in so much time and effort into my umpiring, and into me as well," Treloar said.
"They can enjoy it as much as I can because they've invested so much in me, and I'm really grateful that I'll be able to get out there and do the best I can do.
"There won't be any family there in person, but they'll be with me if you know what I mean.
"And I'll be really enjoying it, that's for sure."