Baxter in the grade spotlight for Sydney debut
CRICKET: Clarence River District umpire Bruce Baxter has made a habit of ticking off his bucket list this summer and the seasoned black and white is set to add another notch to his growing belt as he stands in his first Sydney grade cricket clash this weekend.
In what is a dream appointment for Baxter, he will stand opposite former Clarence umpire Darren Goodger when Manly host Camden-Cabramatta at Manly Oval.
It is a fitting clash for Baxter's metropolitan debut with Manly Oval proving a scene of many childhood memories and a history of playing representative cricket for Camden.
"I guess it has a spiritual connection to me on both sides of the field,” he said.
"A lot of the country people used to venture to Manly for their holidays and my family were just the same. If the surf was not up, I would be at Manly Oval watching the cricketers.”
No nerves for seasoned veteran
While it is a big occasion for the umpire he said nerves were far from his mind as he focussed on getting accustomed to the different nuances of Sydney grade cricket.
"I am not a nervous type,” he said. "There was a bit last year when I walked on to the SCG for the first time, but you have a job to do and need to do it to the best of your ability.
"It is definitely a step up from the local cricket and for me it will be a bit of a different preparation than what I usually do.”
A perfectionist at the crease Baxter ensured he read all of the 28-page playing conditions dossier to ensure he is up to speed on any differences and what to do in all possible situations.
Crisis for first week back on local pitches
Baxter is one of six umpires away from the grounds this weekend leading to a minor crisis for the Clarence River District Umpires and Scorers Association.
With only umpiring stalwarts Terry Hickson, Jeff Hackett and Steve Millar available each Premier League clash will only have one standing official.
"It is the first time in many, many years that we will not have an umpire at each end,” Baxter said. "It is just a freak weekend.”