October 18, 2002

Bowden enjoys his taste of overseas exposure

New Zealand umpire Brent 'Billy' Bowden has joined the list of people wanting to see the players' dispute resolved as soon as possible.

Just back from South Africa, where he was an International Cricket Council (ICC) appointment to the three South Africa-Bangladesh One-Day Internationals, Bowden was looking to a week of activity at New Zealand Cricket's (NZC) High Performance Centre at Lincoln University to build his preparation for the summer next week.

However, he learned from New Zealand exchange umpire to South Africa this year Gary Baxter when he met him in South Africa, that the players had withdrawn their services until their dispute with NZC had been resolved.

"I hope it is going to be settled soon. It doesn't only affect the players, but sponsors, umpires, the whole package.

"It is unfortunate but standing in cricket games is important to umpires. I always like to stand in club cricket because that is where it all starts, but in order to get extra time in the middle I am standing in some school games.

"The Academy programme at Lincoln University is always good for getting your eye in and also to have a look at some of the newer players on the scene and who is coming up.

"The best part of umpiring is umpiring out in the middle," he said.

Should things not be resolved sooner rather than later, then Bowden would be looking at overseas opportunities just to get some time in the middle.

"I would have to talk to Brian Aldridge [the national umpiring manager] about that," he said.

Bowden, who is on the ICC international panel of umpires, the level below the elite group, enjoyed his experience in South Africa, mainly because it reinforced his desire to keep trying for a position on the elite panel.

"It was a good start, I learnt a lot. There is always something you can learn and I wanted to see how I felt about being away from home in unfamiliar conditions and how I coped with the pressures.

"It confirmed for me that this is what I want to do," he said.

Bowden stood in matches at Potchefstroom, Benoni and Kimberley. He enjoyed all three grounds although he said Potchefstroom was the most enjoyable because of the facilities, outfield and outlook there.

Benoni, which is being used for World Cup games, would be a high-scoring venue with its short boundaries while Kimberley had been another enjoyable experience especially for the manner of its grass banks around the ground.

The one-day series had been one-way traffic for the South Africans with the Bangladeshis struggling to make an impact. But he said the international cricket new boys needed the exposure to improve.

"South Africa played hard cricket, but not to their full potential. They were sorting out players for the World Cup.

"Herschelle Gibbs was in fantastic form and if he gets going, especially during the first 15 overs of games if South Africa bat first in their World Cup games, he will cause some real problems.

"Shaun Pollock was there and abouts with his bowling while Mark Boucher was another key man. Those three are critical for South Africa in the World Cup. They have to fire for South Africa," he said.

Bowden said that Lance Klusener was clearly suffering in the confidence department and was possibly a victim of sides having worked him out.

"He likes the ball coming onto the bat, but they [Bangladesh] cramped him up, and added to that he didn't have a lot of time in the middle. He had no chance to really fire," he said.

Bowden said the atmosphere was building in South Africa for the Cup and he was in no doubt it would be a fantastic tournament.

"The grounds are all prepared and there will be no problems with the weather. It is a big event for them and they won't be letting this one slip," he said.

Meanwhile, the appointments for India's tour of New Zealand have been made. Asoka de Silva of Sri Lanka and Daryl Harper of Australia will stand in both Test matches. De Silva will stand in the first four ODIs, once with Bowden and three times with Doug Cowie while Harper will stand in the last three, twice with Bowden and once with Cowie.

The full appointments are:

December 4: Super Max International at Jade Stadium, Christchurch - Dave Quested, Evan Watkin, Gary Baxter (TV umpire); Dec 6-8: Tour match v Central Districts at McLean Park, Napier - Brent Bowden, Doug Cowie; Dec 12-16: 1st Test at Basin Reserve, Wellington - Asoka de Silva, Daryl Harper, Brent Bowden (TV); Dec 19-23: 2nd Test at WestpacTrust Park, Hamilton - Asoka de Silva, Daryl Harper, Doug Cowie (TV); Dec 26: 1st ODI at Eden Park, Auckland - Brent Bowden, Asoka de Silva, Doug Cowie (TV); Dec 29: 2nd ODI at McLean Park, Napier - Doug Cowie, Asoka de Silva, Brent Bowden (TV); January 1: 3rd ODI at Jade Stadium, Christchurch - Doug Cowie, Asoka de Silva, AL Hill (TV); Jan 4: 4th ODI at John Davies Oval, Queenstown - Doug Cowie, Asoka de Silva, AL Hill (TV); Jan 8: 5th ODI at WestpacTrust Stadium, Wellington - Brent Bowden, Daryl Harper, Doug Cowie (TV); Jan 11: 6th ODI at Eden Park, Auckland - Brent Bowden, Daryl Harper, Tony Hill (TV); Jan 14: 7th ODI at WestpacTrust Park, Hamilton - Doug Cowie, Daryl Harper, Brent Bowden (TV).