The Pembrokeshire Association of Cricket Umpires and Scorers have issued a critical warning over the potential lack of officials for the 2020 season.

In a letter sent out to club secretaries' today, group Chairman Dave Brandon said the "shoestring by which we were barely able to fulfil our obligation to the county has snapped."

Pleas ignored:

"Over the past two years, I have made impassioned requests to clubs and the membership to address the acute shortage of umpires for Saturday league fixtures," said Brandon.

"These requests have sadly fallen on deaf ears. On current figures we will not be able to provide any umpires for Division Two cricket this coming season, and it is highly likely that on some weeks not all Division One games will have an umpire.

"Some teams therefore are going to have to umpire themselves and that will inevitably bring disquiet and controversy."

Brandon added that clubs with umpires on the circuit will be allocated appointments first.

Course of action:

And yet, in recent years numerous Pembrokeshire people have attended training courses for umpires. However, for various reasons this has not led them to them signing up on the local 'circuit' and Brandon says the time has come to address the matter head on.

There is a last chance for those interested in cutting the deficiency ahead of the season. On Sunday, February 16th, there is an umpires' course in Whitland.

"We encourage anyone with an interest in the well being of Pembrokeshire cricket to sign up and join our ranks," said Brandon.

"This really is the last throw of the dice - if the current trends continue, then within two or three seasons clubs at all levels will be umpiring themselves and they will have no one to blame.

"We are almost at rock bottom and some drastic action may well be needed."

The stark reality:

This has been coming. Umpire numbers have dwindled in Pembrokeshire cricket for some time now but a potential situation whereby our top Division 1 sides will have to officiate themselves hammers things home.

Final day of the season, and the silverware comes down to an LBW call in the final over. You get the drift.

You cannot blame individuals for opting to play rather than officiate. That is their right and you're a long time retired but obviously the issue has arisen by too few joining the circuit once they are retired.

Some leagues, notably in Oxford, tackled the problem by punishing teams who didn't produce officials with points deductions. It seemingly worked but with some clubs down the bare bones just for playing numbers, it would be beyond risky to enforce such sanctions here.

At the other end of the scale, those who keep on umpiring in Pembrokeshire haver perhaps gone under appreciated. Many are prepared to criticise a difficult role that they've never done themselves. It has made the concept of signing up an even more difficult one to sell.

But regardless of the reasons we're here, the stark reality is this. We have a situation that threatens to further devalue local cricket and worse case scenario, nudge more of our better performers towards South Wales Premier cricket.

Course details and registration can be found at the ECB ACO website. Follow the links to courses and scroll down to Whitland to enrol.