Nelson’s Errol Millar has finished 36 seasons as a cricket umpire. Photo: Barry Whitnall/Shuttersport.

Cricket umpire retires after 36 seasons

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After 36 seasons and about 900 days out in the middle, Nelson cricket umpire Errol Millar is calling an end to his marathon innings.

His final match was washed out on the weekend, bringing an end to a storied career.

Errol was elected a life member of the Nelson Cricket umpires and scorer’s association in 2015, is a grade five umpire (one grade below international level) and has stood in hundreds of cricket matches ranging from school boy to first class.

“I’ve probably overstayed my welcome,” he jokes.

Errol began his career in 1983 at 37 after moving to Nelson from Waiarapa.

Wanting to remain involved in the game after an injury ended his playing time, he became an umpire.

“The best place to watch a game of cricket is out in the middle.”

He recalls the most memorable innings he witnessed occurred in the late eighties by Reg Williams playing for Wanderers against Wakatu at Victory Square.

“He went absolutely crazy.”

Reg bludgeoned about 140 and it didn’t matter who bowled at him, they all went over the rope.

“There were bowlers who just didn’t want the ball.”

He says he has had the pleasure of watching some “very polished players” over the years.
“I had Chris Cairns in a Shield Trophy game in Marlborough and that was an education, he was probably the tightest bowler I ever saw.”

Errol also stood in a match featuring the former Black Cap’s father and fellow international, Lance.

“To see what he could do with the bat and ball is something I won’t forget.”

It hasn’t all been glamorous times for the 71-year-old however, having been on the receiving end of some cracking straight drives from batsmen.

“Once I copped a deflection off the bowler and it cleaned me out at about 100mph, and I wasn’t wearing a box.”

Errol also had his knuckle broken last season it was the first time.

“I wore one directly from the batsman. It came back so quick and all I got was my hand in front of my face and it smashed my hand.

“Perhaps that was a sign that I was getting a bit old and slow.”

Errol says his philosophy for umpiring is to go unnoticed.

“I try not to stand out but just get out there and do the job.”

Unlike international umpires, Errol is not afforded the luxury of multi-angled replays to make a decision.

“We only get one look, just a couple hundredths of a second to make a call.”

He says the key to umpiring, like batting, is to keep your eye on the ball.

“If you move your eyes slightly that could be the difference between getting a decision right or wrong.”

To stand in the stifling heat or miserable cold for seven hours a day requires passion and dedication, of which Errol has in spades.

He says Nelson Cricket is going to have to invest in recruiting some new umpires or eventually they will end up with only player umpires.

He says in the last 10-15 years, there have only been three or four new umpires come on board, with many more leaving.

“When you are doing it on your own it can be a long lonely day.”

Errol’s final game at Victory Square was washed out on the weekend meaning his last official game was Nelson College vs Wanderers at Brightwater on March 17.

He was scheduled to officiate the 50 over final this Saturday but after missing a few games this season, decided to step aside.

“The ones that have done the most games this season should be rewarded.”

Post-retirement, Errol says Saturdays will still be sport-orientated.

“I think I will dust off the old fly rod and spend some more time up the river.”