“I played in a World Cup and for me now to officiate in a World Cup is a very special honour,” says Redfern
Sue Redfern knows all about what it means to compete at a World Cup, but she will be making history this summer as she umpires for the first time in the pinnacle women’s event, which will run in England from 24 June to 23 July.
The 39-year-old was part of the England team that reached the semi-finals of the tournament back in 1997 when she was just 19.
And as she prepares for her first World Cup as an umpire, she will become the first person to have played and then officiated at the global showpiece.
Redfern admits it’s been a whirlwind rise, having only taken her first umpiring qualification four years ago.
She explained: “I followed each level and used each season to gain experience and performed well to progress to the next level.
“It is part education and part performing on the field to progress. The ECB had been supportive in terms of giving me opportunities.
“The ICC has been great as well and it gave me the chance to do the ICC Women's World Tweny20 Qualifier in Bangkok and that was my first taste of international cricket. I have only been officiating since 2014, so it has all happened quite quickly.
“It is very special. My background is in cricket, I used to be an international player. I played in a World Cup and for me now to officiate in a World Cup is a very special honour.
“The fact that it is a home World Cup is very special and is the cherry on the top really. The chance to stand at grounds in this country with local support and to have the chance to raise the profile of female umpiring. It is a great opportunity and a dream come true.”
Redfern is one of four female umpires standing at the tournament, along with New Zealander Kathy Cross, Australian Claire Polosak and West Indian Jacqueline Williams.
Williams and Redfern had made history last May when the two were both officials for an ICC men’s fixture between Oman and Nigeria, the first time this had happened.
For Williams, it’s a dream come true to be involved in the tournament, and a testament to the work she has put in to be part of the occasion.
She explained: “I am very excited. It is an honour to be part of such an event. The role of women’s cricket is growing and for me to be invited to be part of it, I am delighted.
“I have put in a lot of hard work to be here. It is very humbling. I was told in April and I was finding it hard to contain my excitement, I was overjoyed because this is one of my dreams to be here.
“I was a player for Jamaica for five years. Funnily enough when I was player somebody asked me about becoming an umpire and I said: ‘are you crazy?’
“But after I stopped playing, I thought that this game has taught me so much and I wanted to be a part of it and around it. And I thought there was more to the game I could offer and more I can learn.
“After some encouragement I decided to take the exam. I was successful and I started officiating at Under-14 level.
“It has been a challenge but this is what I like and it’s a lot of hard work. I’m in a fortunate position and hopefully others can become umpires too. It’s been 10 years since I stepped out in that white coat.
“Umpiring is not a walk in the park but it can be very enjoyable and it is something that you have to be able to understand that the critics are going to come and you must use that as a driving force as well. You have to accept that sometimes you haven’t done the game justice but tomorrow make sure that it doesn’t happen again and be the best you can be for the game.”