'Cricket mad' Sheffield teenager becomes one of England's youngest umpires and gets advice from Richard Kettleborough
A 'cricket mad' Sheffield teenager has become one of England's youngest umpires.
Fleur Orford, who is 17 years old and an A-level student at King Ecbert School, took a break from studying to oversee her first seniors match last weekend.
The game was was contested between Sheffield Collegiate's fifth XI and Sheffield Super Kings’ second string at Dronfield Woodhouse, with the Super Kings winning by four wickets.
“I have only seen one female umpire before and she was quite old and I think it was only because her husband is an umpire that she does it,” said Fleur.
“For me, it’s a nice escape from school and A-levels, I just find it so captivating – I could watch any game of cricket and love it.”
So, what’s it like being Sheffield’s youngest cricket umpire and one of very few female umpires in England?
"It’s quite a weird feeling because you are stood with normally a middle-aged man at the other side of the pitch,” Fleur said.
"You don’t feel at first like you belong but obviously if you act in the right way people on the pitch will know you are in charge and they will respond and take what you say for being correct.
"They won’t second guess your decisions if you are confident in what you are saying, even if you don’t look like the typical umpire.”
After successfully completing the umpiring course, Fleur, who was first introduced to the sport at school, was given tips from none other than former International Cricket Council umpire of the year Richard Kettleborough.
"It was really interesting,” she said, “he lives locally and he was always down at Abbeydale. He’s just got so many amazing stories.”
"They make us do a lot of cricket at our school because Joe Root came here.
Fleur’s dad John added: "She’s cricket mad. It’s taking off for her.
"I’m impressed, I love my cricket too and 40-odd years ago I was in the same situation playing as a junior so it’s a nice turnaround.
"For me, it’s just brilliant seeing her doing something she absolutely loves. I’m just chauffeur and bag-carrier but I’m happy to do it.”
Fleur added: “At the moment I really, really enjoy it. If it stays as something that I enjoy then I’ll keep doing it.”