The dream of being part of Cricket South Africa’s first-class umpiring panel has come true for former Warriors professional player Arno Jacobs, who has been promoted to officiate in 2017-18.
Jacobs, 40, who lives in Port Elizabeth, was among six umpires promoted to the panel by CSA this week.
Having had a father who was a cricket administrator, and brother Stefan, who played firstclass cricket, Jacobs was always in line to play a role in the sport from primary school onward.
“It pretty much came as a natural process for me to get into cricket because it was in the family and in my blood as well,” he said.
“Umpiring was a normal progression from my playing days that I could not run away from.”
In recent years, the determined Jacobs has risen from being an all-round cricketer for Eastern Province and the Warriors to a no-nonsense umpire following his retirement in 2013.
“It was a massive adjustment for me to go from being a player to officiating.
“As a cricketer, I had always thought I knew the laws of the game, but it proved otherwise when I started being an umpire.
“Adjusting to umpiring in terms of getting your knowledge base in place with regard to playing conditions and to the management of players on the field is something one needs to get used to, as it can be difficult when emotions get tense.
“The nice thing about having played the sport is that it puts you at an advantage in reading the game better and faster.
“It is, however, a bit tricky because you cannot be friends with anyone on the field.
“It is not really a social environment – you just need to do your job.”
He reflected on the standard of cricket in the country and how he hoped to fit into the system.
“Umpiring standards have improved in South Africa over the years and there have been a lot of training programmes, which were almost non-existent in the past.
“There is knowledge and information flowing around to ensure that the standards only get better.
“The playing standards at national level have also improved, with transformation having a positive impact.
“South Africa has remained among the top rankings of the ICC franchises, regardless of all that was said about transformation.
“Cricket in the country can only be heading in the right direction.”
Jacobs holds coaching clinics at the SA Home Loans Union Cricket Club and also visits Grey High, Humansdorp and Jeffreys Bay weekly in a personal capacity.
“Coaching is something I really enjoy. I believe I have what it takes to get through to children.
“Youngsters are like sponges, always keen to learn. Seeing them progress gives me a lot of satisfaction as their coach.”
The other new faces on the first-class panel are Thomas Mokorosi, Siphelele Gasa, Abdoellaah Steenkamp, Ryan Hendricks and Philip Vosloo.
Jacobs joins Westering High’s experienced Stephen Harris on the first-class panel.
Jacobs, who has aspirations of ultimately joining the ICC elite panel of umpires, said: “Joining the ICC is my ultimate goal.”