WELL, the 2018 cricket season is at an end and I know our fixtures secretary will be glad so he can have a well-earned rest.

It has been quite demanding for him to try to get two umpires at each match.

The Bolton League is not on its own in this respect.

Many leagues have had to bow to the need for player umpires in lower-division matches and it looks as if the Bolton League might have to do the same if we do not get some new umpires.

It is a pity players who finish their playing career do not take up the white coat as it is still very rewarding and certainly one of the best places to be part of a match.

However, you do not need to be an ex-player to umpire – anyone interested in cricket can take it up.

We are running courses in the winter with one booked at Astley Bridge Cricket Club, starting on January 8.

If anyone is interested in taking the course they can contact me or David Heap to find out more details and how to register.

To be a qualified umpire, no examination is needed, so the excuse that people had not sat an exam since leaving school is now no longer a valid one.

It is interesting the number of players who say they have played the game for so long they do not need a full course.

They should just ask some of the players who have done a course, as they have found there are many laws they did not know properly.

Yes, players know the basics, but a game of cricket can throw up all sorts of unusual circumstances about which you have to make a decision according to the laws of the game.

So come on everyone, your umpires' association and league need you, even if you are not able to commit to a full season.

Any help will make our fixtures secretary happy for the coming season.

It is time for clubs to start looking at this now while the season is still fresh in their minds.

Umpire shortage seems to be worldwide. I have just come back from attending the New Zealand Cricket Umpires and Scorers Conference and one of the seminars was dedicated to umpiring on your own and the discussions which are to be held with the captains before the match about the role of a stand-in umpire or player umpire.

It has certainly given me a few ideas to introduce next season if we have a shortage.

Winter well and look forward to the next season.