Sydney: There was a small but important piece of history made in an otherwise low-key warm-up game at the Drummoyne Oval when Claire Polosak became the first women to umpire an England men’s cricket match.
“It was fantastic. It is always a good opportunity to umpire players at the top of their game and they were English gentlemen,” she said of Eoin Morgan’s side, the nicest thing an Australian has uttered about England in months.
Polosak has already broken ground in Australia by becoming the first women to umpire in a men’s one-day game when she stood in a match between New South Wales and a Cricket Australia XI in October, and her involvement in the England match was the next stage on the ladder through the professional ranks. The 29-year-old has never played the game but was introduced to it by her father and has worked her way up the umpiring ranks from grade cricket.
She is employed full-time as a female umpire engagement officer for New South Wales Cricket trying to attract more women to the job. Polosak said she has faced discrimination with male players trying to intimidate her by appealing louder at her end when she started but has also received apologies from cricketers for using bad language.
“I find when they do swear they say, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to do that’,” she said. “I remember years ago I was at square-leg and a player near me let one rip, for want of a better word. His face went white and he was absolutely mortified. Generally speaking in Sydney Premier Cricket, grade cricket, I’ve come through at the same speed as some of the players and I’m not new to them. I’m just another umpire. Our state umpire manager firmly believes the players don’t see me as a female umpire any more, I stick the hat on and I’m an umpire.
“When I first started, I had a friend driving past when I was umpiring and she stopped to watch for a little while. She said the players were appealing a lot louder at my end than the other end. But as they’ve got used to me, they know it is not going to work.”