exclusive: Richard Harrison interview

Posted by admin on October 13, 2008 was fortunate enough to talk to someone who has been involved in Zimbabwean cricket for two decades. Richard Harrison is a long standing umpire in Zimbabwe, a former Bulawayo Athletic Club player the current U16's A team coach at Falcon College - a position he has held since 1991! How long have you lived in Zimbabwe?

Richard Harrison: Since 1986 which is now more than half my life. I was born in the UK. You have umpired quite a few First Class and domestic One Day matches in Zimbabwe. What has been the highlight of your umpiring career to date?

Richard Harrison: To umpire my first International (albeit as Reserve Umpire for an ODI) and to stand in my first First Class match was very special at the time, but if I have to pick an actual highlight it has to be standing in the Zimbabwe A vs Sri Lanka 3 day tour match in 2004. It was quite an experience. Am I allowed to say that Mahela Jayawardene proved the most unpleasant cricketer I have ever experienced on a cricket field?! How did you feel after your first game, which featured stars including Heath Streak and Sean Ervine?

Richard Harrison: I was surprised how nervous I was at the start of the game but I was happy with how things went. Heath was actually the first batsman I gave out LBW in a Logan Cup match but I have known Heath since he was 12 and I have found both he and my good mate Syke Nkala have been very helpful giving a constructive player's view of my umpiring. How did you get into umpiring in Zimbabwe?

Richard Harrison: I realised I was never going to make a Test cricketer but enjoyed umpiring school cricket. I had just made enquiries about umpiring league matches in Bulawayo when Bob Brown, then Chairman of cricket at BAC, asked if I would consider playing for BAC which I did for 3 years but it only showed me how poor the standard of umpiring was so I took up regular umpiring in 1998 I think it was. How do you get assigned to matches? Does ZC approach you with regards to umpiring matches, or is it the role of the local associations like the Matabeleland Cricket Board to find umpires?

Richard Harrison: I have done little to no umpiring over the last couple of seasons in matches under the ZC umbrella so I am not really in a position to comment on the current situation. In the past local umpires' associations appointed to local league matches and nominated people for Logan Cup or international duties to be rubber stamped (or otherwise) by ZC. When did you start teaching at Falcon College, and how are you involved in the cricket programme there?

Richard Harrison: I began at Falcon in 1986. My position is U16 A coach which I have done since 1991. I am certainly by far the longest standing U16 coach in Zimbabwe! There has been a lot of talk about Corey van Rensburg being "the next big thing" in Zimbabwe cricket. Does he have what it takes to break into the national team in the coming years? Are there others coming through the schools system who could soon be in Zimbabwe colours?

Richard Harrison: Corey is a fine player who has struggled a little at first team level for no obvious reason but scored his maiden 1st team century just last Saturday (11/10) so hopefully that is the breakthrough he needs. I am not going to judge if or when he will make the national side! Yes, I do believe there are still good schools players in the ranks. We can just hope that they consider it worthwhile to stay in Zimbabwe and to continue to play when they leave school. The current situation is not always conducive to that. After the rebel saga four years ago, is cricket in Zimbabwe heading in the right direction? It seems that there is finally some degree of stability in the domestic club cricket and First Class structures, and the national team has been quite competitive in international matches.

Richard Harrison: People are very sensitive about the rights or wrongs of the current situation in Zimbabwe cricket/Cricket. I don't agree with everything I see going on but I certainly still believe in a positive future for cricket in this country and would love to continue to be involved.


Thank you to Richard Harrison for taking the time to talk to!