Howzat, an umpire award

By Iain Hyndman

The Wanganui cricket fraternity finally has a tool to potentially reward the unsung heroes of lower level matches.

A nationwide search has been launched to find New Zealand's favourite local umpire and Central Districts has been asked to nominate their tireless volunteers who donate countless hours each weekend to allow youngsters to aspire to greater heights.

Specsavers and NZ Cricket have joined forces to find the most popular amateur umpire.

New Zealand international cricket umpire and ICC Emirates Elite Panel Umpire Billy Bowden says he knows first-hand the time and energy that goes into being a local cricket umpire.

"It's an amazing privilege to be involved with the young cricketers that are coming through the ranks. This competition is all about recognising those umpires that go the extra mile and I know there are plenty out there," Bowden said.

However, Cricket Wanganui administrator Dilan Raj said amateur umpires were thin on the ground with just one or two regulars available at senior level.

"At senior level many are player umpires, but there are quite a few who donate their time freely at junior and school level, many of them teachers," Raj said.

"These guys are out there week after week gladly giving their time and any rewards would be well-earned."

The competition calls for people to nominate their favourite local amateur cricket umpire and will run through to January 28, 2013.

Six finalists will be selected from around the country and from this group the national winner will be announced. Plenty of exciting prizes are up for grabs including tickets to this summer's Black Caps versus England series, $1000 spending money and a one-on-one training with a top New Zealand umpire. All those who nominate someone via the Specsavers New Zealand Facebook page will receive a voucher for $50 off any pair of Specsavers glasses.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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