x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

German stands tall in the world

An official from the non-conventional cricketing nation is doing his best to make the country proud among the sporting fraternity.

Paul Baldwin takes his position during the UAE-Kenya match on the first day of the ICC World Twenty20 qualifier at the Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Paul Baldwin takes his position during the UAE-Kenya match on the first day of the ICC World Twenty20 qualifier at the Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi.

A few years from now, India and South Africa could be engaged in another battle for the world cricket supremacy or Australia and England could be locking horns in a tense battle for the Ashes. In the middle will be the men in black and white who will have the potential to change the course of the all-important series. And one of them could be a German. "Well that is the beauty of the way the ICC (International Cricket Council) has structured panel for the umpires and referees that gives opportunities to everyone," says Paul Baldwin. His name raises eyebrows wherever he goes considering Germany is not even in the top 48 countries that form the list of Associate and Affiliate countries under the banner of the world governing body and are involved in the relegation and promotion battles across seven divisions of what is called the World Cricket League (WCL). Germany even sits second behind France in the ICC Europe region and out of the WCL.

"We once made it to the fifth division of the WCL but got relegated," informs Baldwin adding there are 52 clubs in the country and play matches over the weekend. "We get a bit of the ICC funding. I am not aware how much but they [the ICC] are doing their best. Hopefully in the next 15-20 years we might make it to the top levels," says the 36-year-old. A former player himself who made his international umpiring debut in 2006, he has officiated in 18 ODIs and six twenty20 games as a member of the Associate and Affiliate International Panel of the ICC. Baldwin has been the lone torch-bearer for Deutscheland, raising his hand many times in the middle of many tournaments comprising two Under 19 World Cups and two ICC Twenty20 Qualifiers, including the one currently on in the UAE.

He also formed and chaired the umpiring association of his country and has made it to the Reserve list on the umpiring panel of the England and Wales Cricket Board. That recent appointment two months ago will see him more on the English wickets and hopefully fast-track his international career. For him to break into the next level, the International Panel, he will have to be recommended by a member board - England in this case. The same process is necessary for him to make it to the Elite Panel, the cream of umpires for big games. "I am happy that I have got to officiate in so many big events and would love to see my country's cricketers come up as well. "Cricket in our country is mainly played by the subcontinental expatriates but the game is catching up amongst the nationals. "Unfortunately we don't have the numbers that can help us get government support. For that to happen, we need 10,000 members. We are about 2,000-odd in strength currently." So what drove the public relations consultant to chart unknown waters. "It is the same as so many others; the love for the game". kshyam@thenational.ae