Mon | Apr 19, 2021

Howzat! - Umpire Jacqueline Williams blazes trail in male-dominated craft

Published:Monday | March 8, 2021 | 12:11 AMLennox Aldred/Gleaner Writer
Jamaican umpire Jacqueline Williams signals a wide during a Regional Super50 Cup match.

Gender parity within sports is ever-increasing, with several women being more and more involved at varying levels, both locally and internationally. Cricket has been a gentleman’s game for centuries; however, more and more females are carving out a...

Gender parity within sports is ever-increasing, with several women being more and more involved at varying levels, both locally and internationally.

Cricket has been a gentleman’s game for centuries; however, more and more females are carving out a niche in the sport, with an increase in the number of players, officials and administrators.

One such female, who is making her mark in the sport of cricket, is Jamaican umpire Jacqueline Williams, who has been blazing the trail as one of the most respected officials in the game.

The Westmorland native, who became the first female umpire to stand in a domestic 50-over game in the West Indies during the match between Trinidad and Tobago and ICC Americas in the 2015–16 Regional Super50 tournament, is now one of only 12 women match officials on the International Cricket Council’s list.

For Williams, growing up and watching her grandfather listening to cricket with his transistor radio led her to get into the game, which she also ended up playing for some time.

It was her long-time coach, Wilbert Parkes, who encouraged her to start umpiring, and she has since stayed the course and is enjoying every moment, despite the challenges in the male-dominated sport.

“I tend not to focus on the fact that it is a male-dominated arena. I know that I have done the hard work and prepared just as much as my male colleagues, and I consider myself to be an umpire and not a female umpire,” expressed Williams.

The 45-year-old Williams has an impressive record thus far as an official, standing in five One-Day and six T20 Internationals to go with her 32 Women’s ODIs and 14 Women’s T20 matches.

MEMORABLE MOMENT

Her most memorable moment, according to her, would come in January 2020, when she was named as the third umpire for the first T20I between the West Indies and Ireland, becoming the first woman to officiate as the third umpire in a men’s international cricket match.

Williams highlighted that it was a constant struggle to balance her passion for umpiring and carving out a livelihood before she was elevated to the international panel as a full-time umpire.

She recounts a story where she was fired from her previous job, as her employer thought that her umpiring duties were a ‘joke ting’.

With as much as six local females now learning and administering the craft, Williams is urging the public and private sectors to support the women as they do their male counterparts.

“When you are working nine-to-five and trying to pursue umpiring, it is very difficult. A lot of us women don’t get the support, and that is an area in which we can do much better and encourage the females, and give the same amount of support that is shown to the males,” added Williams.

Williams, who recently returned from the just-concluded Regional Super50 Cup, says she is keen to be a part of more international assignments to come, but for now the sky is the limit.

“I tend to deal with umpiring like a cricketer who is at the crease, looking at each ball at a time. I try not to look too far ahead, but I just want to ensure however long I am in the game, that I am giving 100 per cent and I can do justice to the game,” Williams said.

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