WE have been very lucky with the weather and it is not very often we have had to umpire with a thunderstorm brewing.

In my umpiring career only on a couple of occasions have we had to leave the field due to thunder and lightning.

A few weeks back we had a storm that went alongside the club's ground.

Umpires now have strict guidelines to follow. Of paramount importance is the safety of all the people who are out on the field.

An umpire will decide if the lightning threat is imminent and whether he or she should advise his colleague and players to leave the field for a safer place.

In order to restart the game both umpires must agree the threat has passed and it is safe to resume.

They must err on the side of caution and must prioritise safety over and above optimisation of play, irrespective of the state of the match.

Play should be suspended and shelter sought in a safe place – which is not under trees.

It is generally safe to return to the field of play a minimum of 30 minutes after the final flash of lightning or clap of thunder has been seen or heard.

It might be possible to start or resume play earlier that 30 minutes, but only if it is clear and it has been agreed by both umpires that the storm has moved on and there is no threat of lightning.

The decision remains in the hands of the umpires. Players may not agree as they think they should be out there as soon as the lightning stops, but guidelines have to be followed.

Last season I had to stop a game from starting on time due to there being a big flash of lightning as we were about to take the field.

We started 10 minutes later as there were no more flashes.

Players stood around looking bemused until I explained the directives the ECB had given to umpires. We had to make sure there was no more lightning.

If it had been raining hard at the same time, it would not have been a problem as we would have had to delay the start due to the rain.

As the umpires are sole judges of ground, weather and light, the new law which came into effect this season now only requires one umpire to decide conditions are not ideal for play to continue.

Players definitely have no say. However, for the game to resume both umpires must be in full agreement conditions are safe for all participants.