Once again, the rain played a part in determining the result of some of Saturday’s NWCL matches.

One Premiership game never started; others were abandoned as a heavy shower played havoc with ground conditions as puddles formed. That creates problems for the umpires. Once a game has started, they are in sole control of ground, weather and light and decisions must be made as to if conditions are safe for play to continue. All grounds in the NWCL should have drying-up equipment, some have more mopping-up equipment than others, but there should be something available to use.

There will always be a club who wants to play and one who does not and it’s up to the umpires to decide if it is safe to do so, no matter what the state of the game is. It puts them in an awkward position at times because they are going to please one team and not the other, but players, in the end, have to accept their decision.

Usually, umpires will have a chat with the groundsman and a chat with both captains as there is a local rule that says once a game has started the game can only be called off before close of play after consultation and with the concurrence of both captains. If one captain wants to wait a bit longer, then the umpires usually allow this but there comes a point where waiting is of no use, especially if mopping-up equipment is not available. However, locally, both captains have to agree.

If it is before a game starts, then the responsibility is the captains’. They can contact each other saying there is a problem with the ground. Pictures are often taken for the away captain to look at and if he thinks it is a bit too early to call a game off, then he can request a ground inspection which he either does himself or asks a local umpire to do. This has happened a few times this season and works quite well if done soon enough to stop umpires from travelling, although there have been a few late call-offs - too late to stop the umpires from setting off. Maybe a time limit should be set for such decisions to be made given the spread out nature of grounds in the league. Just a thought.