Former Bathurst-Orange Inter-District Cricket Association umpire Tony Wilds is no stranger to standing in international women’s matches, but when he took part in the ICC East Asia Pacific Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifying Tournament there was something a little different.
Instead of watching the action unfold at one of Australia’s leading venues, Wilds’ umpiring duties took him to Sano, Japan from April 28 to May 5.
“I’ve obviously done some international women’s stuff in Australia over the last three or four years like Twenty20s and one-dayers when the various teams come out,” Wilds said.
“I’ve never been to anywhere like Japan in my life. I’ve been overseas once to New Zealand, so it was an incredible experience. Total shock to get it, it was an amazing thing to get, I had four days to get to Sydney then on to Japan.
“Some of these bottom nations have these tournaments and the winners go to the next stage and can eventually get into the tournament. I got a very late call-up.”
Japan, Vanuatu, Samoa and Papua New Guinea took part in the tournament, which was played in a round robin format on turf wickets. Papua New Guinea was the victor and will now progress to the Global Qualifier.
Wilds was impressed by what he saw unfold at the tournament.
“It was pretty interesting and there was also something I hadn’t encountered before and that was the language barrier. Most of them spoke a fair amount of English, but not so much the Japanese players,” he said.
“The standard of cricket around the world has just exploded. Samoa had a coach from New Zealand, PNG had a coach from Australia, so there’s obviously a good push in those places to lift the standard, which they’ve done remarkably well.
“I had a mentoring role as well, there were two other umpires there from PNG and Hong Kong who were part of East Asia Pacific umpiring panel.
“They were quite good, but I suppose Australia’s national panel leads the way a bit, so I was given the opportunity to umpire with them and mentor them as well.”