Man in the middle - Mark Hawthorne
Robin Walsh (Sunday Life)
The weekend after umpiring Ireland’s game against England in Dublin last year Mark Hawthorne had a somewhat less glamorous commitment. It was Saintfield Seconds against Holywood Seconds in the lower reaches of the NCU league - and he enjoyed it as much.
“You really do get the same satisfaction”, says the 49 year-old Newtownards man. “The same basic laws pertain and the same level of concentration is required. It was a great day at Sainfield.”
It will be a slightly different atmosphere when Hawthorne and fellow umpire Richard Kettleworth from Yorkshire walk to the middle at Stormont next Saturday under the gaze of thousands at the ground and the live cameras of Sky Sports.
And preparation will be different. Hawthorne and Kettleworth will spend the eve of the game together and at the ground they will have formal meetings with the Ireland and Australian captains and coaches.
He says : “We will go through every aspect of the game, every nuance of the conditions of play. This is particularly important if we have the stop-start situation that pertained in the England game but let’s home that piece of homework will be irrelevant. We will discuss every possible eventuality and when we go to the middle I will have my notes tucked in a pocket.”
The highly respected Hawthorne has stood in five ODIs as a member of the European Elite Panel of Umpires, two of them against Pakistan at Stormont last year. In August he will be off to Australia for the ICC Under 19 World Cup with Richard Smith, a fellow member of the NI Association of Umpires and Scorers.