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Howzat umpire! Joel Wilson makes his name in the ODI

Sunday, March 30, 2014
Umpire Joel Wilson and WICB Pres Dave Cameron. photo: ashley allen

Joel Wilson is the latest and newest of T&T’s international cricket umpires following on the footsteps of famous sons of the soil Ralph Gosein, Clyde Cumberbatch and, more recently, Peter Nero. According to Wikipedia, an umpire (from the Old French “nompere,” meaning not a peer—that is, not a member of one of the teams; impartial) is a person who has the authority to make judgments on the cricket field, according to the laws of cricket. With today’s increasing popularity of the T20 (Twenty-Twenty) format of the game, umpires like Wilson and Nero are seen worldwide by millions of viewers as they are called upon to make split-second decisions determining the fate of batsmen, bowlers and fielders during the course of a game. Getting it wrong is an umpire’s worst nightmare, but thankfully, due to technology, there’s the opportunity, via replays and appeals, to get it right.

Like his fellow Trinidadian Nero, Wilson has yet to officiate in the longest version of the game, a Test match, but is hoping the privilege will come in due course as he makes his name in the ODI (One Day International) and T20 formats. Umpires are indeed a special lot—underappreciated, you might say. Unlike the players who are present for just parts of a game, umpires have to stand for the entire duration. From Santa Cruz, the articulate, 47-year-old Wilson, after putting in his dues on the local and regional circuits and completing the necessary certifications, officiated in his first ODI game, Windies versus India at Sabina Park, Jamaica, in June 2011. His first T20 was Canada versus Netherlands in March of 2012 in Dubai. He is currently an executive member of the T&T Cricket Umpires and Scorers Council, chairman of the North Zone Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association, and a member of the National Training and Examination Committee and the Constitution Committee, T&T Cricket Umpires and Scorers Council.


Where were you born and where did you grow up?
Born in Siparia, Trinidad. Spent the first 11 years of my life there and then came to San Juan, and now Santa Cruz for the last 12 years.


What do you rate as the most satisfying and memorable occasion?
Standing in the Cricket World Cup Qualifiers Final in New Zealand, on February 1, with Michael Gough. First major world finals.


What advice would you give to someone contemplating a vocation/career such as yours?
Be certain that you love the game; be prepared to work hard and take nothing for granted. 


What inspires you to do what you do?
My love for the game and the support I receive from family and friends. Enjoying the game I love from the best seat in the house.


What are some of the challenges you face in your role as a cricket umpire at the regional and international level? 
The lack of opportunities for umpires in the West Indies; not enough cricket regionally. The absence of support mechanisms for regional and international umpires in the West Indies. It’s still not a professional sport in the region, so we can’t be considered professionals in our field.


What schools/institutions did you attend?

Siparia Boys’ Primary and Belmont Boys’ Secondary. I achieved my postgraduate diploma through the Chartered Institute of Marketers, London, England.


What advice would you give to the young people of T&T?
Trust in God, work hard and enjoy what you do. Nothing worth having in life comes easy, and we will be rewarded for hard work.


What motto do you live by and what is your recipe for success?
My motto is: “I am not giving in.” My recipe for success is my faith that the Lord is in charge of my destiny and all I must do is believe and work as hard as I can. 


Which countries have you been to, officiating as an umpire? 
Besides almost every island in the Caribbean where cricket is played—England, Bangladesh, Dubai and New Zealand.


Who were your heroes growing up, and why?  
My cricket hero was Augustine Logie…I loved his cool disposition even in the face of trouble. Outside of cricket, Martin Luther King Junior. [I admired] his peaceful disposition even in the midst of unacceptable situations.


Who/what inspired you to become a cricket umpire? 
It happened by accident. I attended a session at the Oval in January 1995, through the invitation of a friend, believing we were just talking cricket. It turned out to be about the laws of cricket and umpiring. I subsequently fell in love with it, and the rest is history.


Of all your accolades, prizes and awards, which do you rate as extremely special?
The North Zone Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association—Most Promising Umpire in 1999. It kept me in umpiring when I was about to give up. I didn’t think I was capable; but someone or some group felt I did, and they kept me in it.


What goals and or ambitions do you still have? 
I am working towards becoming the best umpire I can become, and to reach as far as I can on the international scene; and making my zone, country and region proud of the quality we can produce.


What are your plans for the future? 
Well, at present I am involved in the regional four-day competition, and later in the year I hope to be involved in CPL 2 and the visits of the New Zealand and Bangladesh international teams to the West Indies.


What did you do before becoming an international cricket umpire?
I was marketing manager and a part-time lecturer in public relations and marketing at the Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies; and a part-time lecturer at Sital College.


Describe yourself in two words, one beginning with J, the other with W…your initials. 
Jovial and warm.


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