North West umpire Roly Black reflects on World Cup final experience
North West Cricket Union and Ireland umpire Roly Black gave his thoughts after officiating in Saturday’s ICC Under-19 World Cup final in the Caribbean, where India beat England by four wickets.
The former Bready bowler became the first Irish umpire to ‘stand’ in an ICC World Cup final and described the experience as ‘something that will stay with me for a very long time.’
Black was one of four Irish umpires to be awarded a full time contract in 2019 and the following year he certainly caught the eye of the world governing body. He was selected to officiate at the 2020 Under-19 tournament in South Africa and impressed so much that he was appointed to stand in both semi-finals.
Yesterday’s final was another step up and it will come as little surprise to anyone that Roly again drew lavish praise for his handling of the high-profile game watched ‘live’ by millions around the world.
Speaking earlier today, the North West man reflected modestly on the biggest day of his career to date.
“I was delighted and felt privileged to be appointed to stand in the men’s Under-19 World Cup final and was under no illusion of the magnitude of what this appointment means to Irish officiating generally,” he said.
“I would be lying if I said there weren’t a few butterflies as I left for the ground yesterday morning or as I stood lined up for the anthems.
“I try and stick to my normal routines and processes which are embedded into my game however so nothing changed from that perspective, and I always try to stay as calm and composed as possible no matter what game is involved.
“In the five weeks I have been away from home I have seen a lot of cricket balls bowled so I had plenty of cricket under my belt heading into yesterday’s final. Obviously I was fully aware of the scrutiny that this match would bring around the world but I didn’t let myself think too much about that.
“During the game you cannot let your focus drift. I just tried to keep it as simple as possible, concentrate on every ball and take every delivery on its merit.
“As I head home in the next couple of days I’ll have time to reflect on having had the opportunity to stand at an iconic stadium like the Sir Vivian Richards and in the company of some of cricket’s all-time greats.
“Along with being able to watch some of the sport’s future stars in the biggest game of their lives so far, it has been a special experience and one that will stay with me for a very long time.
North West Umpires and Scorers Chair Vinny O’Hara extended his congratulations to Roly on what he called “an outstanding and deserved honour.”
“Roly is a superb ambassador for the North West and Irish umpires in general and we are very proud of his achievements to date," admitted O'Hara
“He is only too willing to pass on his knowledge and experience to his colleagues here and I know I’m not the only one to have phoned him for advice before and after domestic matches.
“His greatest strength is that he brings that same level of professionalism whether he is umpiring a World Cup final or a 4th XI game in our local league.
“Nobody works harder on umpiring or deserves it more and I don’t think this is the last we’ve heard of Roly Black on that type of stage.”