Cricket Umpires Australia


Increased umpiring opportunities in new look pathway

11 August 2015

Simon Lightbody and David Shepard

Cricket Australia (CA) has unveiled a rejuvenised umpire pathway, which will provide additional opportunities in line with the new competition formats being introduced in season 2015/16.

With the advent of the WBBL and the increase of Toyota Future League fixtures, a formal CA Development Panel has been established. Appointed as the two project umpires in season 2014/15, Claire Polosak (NSW) and David Shepard (VIC) will again continue this position within the Development Panel, joining Simon Lightbody (NSW), Damien Mealey (QLD) and Tony Wilds (NSW).

The Development Panel will be appointed to WBBL and Toyota Futures League fixtures across the country and will be joined by locally selected State Umpire Panel members to officiate some of the best talent coming through their own playing pathways.

Meanwhile, the introduction of two new teams in the men’s Under 19 and Under 17 National Championships provides two additional opportunities for the ‘next level’ to show their wares on the national stage. Appointed by Cricket Australia, the Under 19 Male National Championship umpires will travel to Adelaide in late November. The Under 17 Male National Championships, whereby appointments are nominated by states and ratified by Cricket Australia, will commence in Brisbane late in September. 

These appointments complement the 12-person National Umpire Panel (NUP), announced in May.

Appointed as the first ever female Project Umpire and now selected for the Development Panel, Claire Polosak is a trailblazer for females in cricket officiating. The first woman to be appointed to a panel of this level in Australian cricket history, Polosak took up umpiring at age 15, officiating in the local competition during the school holidays in the Goulburn area.

Her inaugural season as a Project Umpire in 2014/15 included both a WT20 and Sydney Grade Cricket First Grade debuts. Polosak also travelled to New Zealand to officiate in an Under-21 national tournament, where she was one of six women who umpired over the week. This was the first time in history a solely female umpiring panel officiated a domestic tournament, whilst the Panel was also supported by former ICC Elite Panel member and current New Zealand Cricket Umpiring Coach Tony Hill.

Polosak encourages other females to consider umpiring as it is not only the ‘best seat in the house’, but also a great opportunity to be fully involved in the game. She highlights the transferable skills within umpiring that assists her in day-to-day life, including communication skills, decision making, person management and conflict resolution.

Polosak joins fellow Project Panel umpire, David Shepard, on the Development Panel.

In season 1994/95, Shepard made his First Grade debut. He played one First Class game for Victoria and six List A matches in the 1998/99 season before requiring surgery for osteitis pubis. In December 2011 Shepard pulled stumps on his playing career which spanned 193 First Grade games.

Like many former players, Shepard wanted to continue to stay involved in cricket once he retired. He was encouraged to try umpiring for the second half of the 2011/2012 and he has enjoyed it since day one. Acknowledging there was an opportunity in front of him if he was prepared to make the commitment and do the hard work required, Shepard found that umpiring allowed him to stay connected to the game and be challenged both mentally and physically.

In season 2013/14, Shepard became part of the Cricket Victoria State Umpire Panel and umpired his first WNCL and WT20 matches in that season. In season 2014/15 he was selected to umpire at the National Male Under 17 Championship in Adelaide. Overall, Shepard has umpired in three WNCL matches; four WT20 matches; 40 Victorian Premier League matches, including 26 1st XI matches.

Queenslander Damien Mealey brings a wealth of experience to the Development Panel group. A former member of the National Umpire Panel, Mealey made his List A debut in a one-day domestic fixture between Queensland and New South Wales at the Gabba in October 2010. His First Class debut then came in February 2012 in Hobart, in a game featuring Tasmania and New South Wales.

To date, Mealey has 14 First Class fixtures; 14 (and a further five Third Umpire) one-day domestic games and 19 twenty20 domestic (and a further nine Third Umpire) matches to his name.

In June 2009 and June 2011, Mealey was appointed to the international women’s series in Brisbane featuring the Southern Stars and New Zealand. He was also selected to stand in the twenty20 component when Australia again hosted New Zealand in 2012 and then England in February 2014.

At a local scene, Mealey regularly gives back to the Queensland Grade competition, attending central and regional training sessions, as well as mentoring younger umpires.

Developing his craft and although still residing in Canberra, Simon Lightbody is a dedicated servant to the game, travelling to Sydney each week to officiate in the Sydney Grade Cricket competition. Lightbody has been a regular feature at Cricket Australia Underage Championships, starting his pathway during the 2008/09 Under 17 tournament in Melbourne. He has since been appointed to five Under 19 National Championships, the most recent last year in Adelaide.  

Lightbody has stood in ten Futures League fixtures between Canberra and Sydney, as well as a further three WNCL and ten WT20 matches. He has been exposed to various levels of the international scene, including a TV Umpire appointment at a PM’s XI games in Canberra which featured an unbeaten century from England’s Ian Bell. He was appointed in the Under 19 Series in Townsville in April 2012, which included teams from Australia, England, India and New Zealand.  Most recently, Lightbody was appointed to the only four-day fixture between Australia under 19 and England Under 19, held at the WACA in April this year.

The 2014 National Officiating Scholarship recipient Tony Wilds began his umpiring career in Bathurst in country New South Wales. He spent four years umpiring in the Bathurst/Orange region, during which time he was appointed to the New South Wales Country Representative Panel. Similar to fellow Panel member Simon Lightbody, Wilds is another dedicated country based official, having travelled and stood in over 100 First Grade games for the Sydney Grade competition over the past six seasons. For the majority of this time Wilds has also been on the New South Wales State Panel.

Season 2014/15 was a breakout year for Wilds. An integral part of the team appointed to the Matador One-Day Cup competition, Wilds made his List A debut at Allan Border Field in October 2014. He stood in two games throughout this campaign, and had a further match in the box. He then changed his attention to the Southern Stars twenty20 and one-day international series against the West Indies, held at venues across the country.

Wilds’ greatest moment in his umpiring career then came in February 2015, where he made his First Class debut in Newcastle in a fixture between New South Wales and Western Australia.

For the first time, the National Umpire Panel and Development Panel will join together at the annual pre-season seminar, this season to be held late September in Brisbane at the National Cricket Centre.

National Umpire Panel

  • Gerard Abood |NSW
  • Ashley Barrow |VIC
  • Shawn Craig |VIC
  • Gregory Davidson |NSW
  • Simon Fry |SA
  • Phillip Gillespie |VIC
  • Michael Graham-Smith |TAS
  • Geoffrey Joshua |VIC
  • Michael Martell |WA
  • Samuel Nogajski |TAS
  • John Ward |VIC
  • Paul Wilson |NSW

Development Panel

  • Simon Lightbody | NSW
  • Damien Mealey | QLD
  • Claire Polosak |NSW
  • David Shepard |VIC
  • Tony Wilds | NSW

CA Under 19 Male National Championships | Adelaide | 30 November – 10 December

  • Murray Branch |QLD
  • Stephen Brne |VIC
  • James Hewitt |WA
  • Anthony Hobson |NSW
  • Dale Ireland |VIC
  • Nathan Johnstone |WA
  • Donovan Koch |QLD
  • David Shepard VIC
  • David Taylor |NSW
  • Ben Treloar |NSW

CA Under 18 Female National Championships | Canberra | 13 January – 19 January

  • Appointments to be confirmed

CA Under 17 Male National Championships | Brisbane | 28 September – 8 October

  • Cory Black | SA
  • Hennie Botes | WA
  • Daryl Brigham | VIC
  • Darren Close | TAS
  • Andrew Crozier | ACT
  • Ben Farrell | QLD
  • Keiran Knight | NSW
  • Marc Nickl | NSW
  • Trent Steenholdt | WA
  • Harvey Wolff | TAS


CA Under 15 Female National Championships | Hobart | 25 November – 1 December

  • Appointments to be confirmed