Mary Waldron is part of the Ireland squad for the WWT20 Qualifiers in the Netherlands
Women's T20 World Cup

Ireland's Mary Waldron: umpire and player

WT20Q, interview

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Mary Waldron has represented Ireland at both football and cricket, but another sporting occupation separate from playing has attracted her interest in recent years.

Ahead of the ICC Women's World T20 Qualifier in the Netherlands, the 34-year old, who will keep wicket for Ireland in the tournament, spoke about the roots of her umpiring ambition, her experience as a cricketing official and how viewing aspects of the sport from a different standpoint has shaped her game. 

"I initially got into umpiring in my first season playing cricket in Tasmania," Waldron explained.

"I had to do the basic course, then when I got back to Ireland I was manager of our under 15 boys' side and I had to umpire. I enjoyed it so when I went back to Australia the following year I asked them to train me up. They did and I love it.

"I enjoy the challenge of having a good game [as an umpire]. You’re never going to get it perfect, but I like the challenge of trying to get it right. I haven’t had any horrific ones. I've had players not 100 per cent agree with me, but I’m waiting for that lbw shout where they turn round and say, ‘I smashed that one'."

Waldron is expected to don the wicket-keeping gloves in the tournament
Waldron is expected to don the wicket-keeping gloves in the tournament

Pursuing a career in umpiring after Waldron calls time on playing is certainly on the cards, and she cites the progressive climate surrounding female officials in the game and how other notable female representatives in the sport have broken barriers to ensure that equality prevails in the future.

She describes her connection with Claire Polosak, the Australian umpire who became the first woman to officiate a men's domestic fixture in Australia, and Kathy Cross, a pioneering female umpire who retired recently having stood in hundreds of high-profile matches in a career spanning almost 20 years.  

Kathy Cross is a pioneering figure in umpiring
Kathy Cross is a pioneering figure in umpiring

"I would like it to be [a career]. It’s one of those things as a woman where you don’t know if it can be a career just yet as it's constantly evolving and more opportunities could be given to female officials. I would love it to be a career and it's something I certainly would pursue.

"I’ve spoken to Kathy and Claire at previous tournaments and they’ve been very generous with their time, explaining what they’ve gone through and it’s easier for me because they’ve knocked down some of the walls. And obviously Claire does work with Cricket Australia and I do a lot of umpiring in Australia, so she’s a good support network for me over there too."

Waldron also believes her experience of umpiring has changed her perspective regarding certain aspects of playing the game. 

"I feel like umpiring has helped," she said. "I’ve watched a lot of cricket now, and a lot of men’s Division One at home. I see with our team that we tend to get annoyed when we aren’t playing perfect shots, and I look at the guys and I know they’re great cricketers but they’re not playing beautiful shots every ball, but grinding away at an innings. So it’s changed my mindset a little on batting. It’s just bits and bobs, but I definitely think it has helped my play."

For the time being though, Waldron's focus will be purely on playing, as Ireland begin their WT20Q campaign against Thailand on 7 July, before fixtures against Scotland and Uganda on July 8 and July 10 respectively.

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