Back injury leaves batsman's future in doubt June 25, 2007

Arnberger considers umpiring move

Cricinfo staff

Jason Arnberger wants to play on but knows his career might be over © Getty Images

Jason Arnberger, the Victoria opener, could become an umpire as soon as next season. Arnberger missed all of 2006-07 with a persistent back injury and is waiting to hear from surgeons whether his playing days are over.

Arnberger was not given a Cricket Victoria contract for 2007-08 and although he would like to play on, he realises that is no certainty. His problem relates to a joint where his pelvis joins his spine and while doctors have been deciding on his future, he has been doing part-time work as a delivery man and has started an umpiring course.

"It's a career that has interested me for a while now," Arnberger told The Age. "Although I would love to play the game for a couple more years, I know there's a chance I may never play again, so I am seriously considering the move."

If a return to batting is ruled out, Arnberger will speak to Cricket Victoria about a possible full-time umpiring position. Arnberger believes the calibre of umpiring in Australia has fallen away in the last decade but he hopes that decline can be arrested. "I think it can improve," he said. "I think that the standard has dropped off a little bit since I came to Victoria. And they're struggling to get the numbers at the moment, so the more better candidates they can get, the better."

He has discussed his possible move with Paul Reiffel, his former Victoria team-mate who now regularly officiates in first-class matches, and Paul Wilson, the fast bowler who played one Test for Australia and is now umpiring in Western Australia. "They have told me they enjoy it," Arnberger said.

"I think it's a bit more difficult when you get up to four-day cricket and the pressure builds up but I certainly want to give it a go. And umpiring at grade level appeals to me, too, because I know a lot of the players and feel as though I will be able to stay in the game a lot longer."

A significant number of umpires in England's domestic cricket have played at first-class level and although it is less common in Australia, there has been a gradual increase in recent years. Two of the three who officiated in this year's Pura Cup final - Rod Tucker and Bruce Oxenford - were former state players.

Arnberger, 34, was keen to have been a part of Victoria's campaign last season after a strong 2005-06 in which he was the Bushrangers' second leading Pura Cup run-scorer, with 721 at 45.06. His first three seasons were with New South Wales but he moved to Victoria in 1997-98 and quickly became a regular at the top of the order, currently sitting seventh on the state's all-time run list.