Baxter won't be stumped by SCG challenge
CRICKET: Clarence River umpire Bruce Baxter's impressive level of composure behind the stumps is one of the key reasons he has been appointed to the final of the Plan B Regional Bash for the second straight season.
It will be a great honour for Baxter when he steps out onto the Sydney Cricket Ground next month, but it is one he has earned according to NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association executive officer Darren Goodger.
The Plan B Regional Bash final is one of four pinnacles for country cricket umpires, along with the NSW Country Championships final, Sydney Grade cricket and appointment to the Australian Country Cricket Championships.
Baxter will actually tick off two on the list in the one weekend after he was also appointed to two days of grade cricket leading into the Plan B Regional Bash finals on Tuesday, February 5.
He is on a representative panel of 12 of the best country cricket umpires chosen from more than 600 who take an end in regional centres each week.
"Bruce came through an umpiring pathway exactly the same as players do from regional towns," Goodger said.
"He was first appointed to a Colts carnival in Coffs Harbour and the feedback we received from players, coaches and parents was that they were really impressed with his officiating. And it has grown from there."
This summer, Baxter has already officiated at the Northern NSW Country Championship at Inverell and the NSW Country Colts under-19s at Narrabri, and his continued high performance has resulted in his selection for the SCG.
"(Bruce) has had a consistently good season in the country programs and he is hugely respected by players, coaches and administrators," Goodger said.
"There is a genuine sense of security when you see his name attached to an appointment and as a selector you're picking people who you know are going to get the job done in a low-maintenance fashion.
"This is a significant appointment and a classic example of you don't get what you wish for, you get what you deserve."
While Baxter embodies several key traits of a good umpire, Goodger pinpointed his composure and "genuine feel for the game" as the key reasons for his continued success.
The Plan B Regional Finals will be held on the SCG on February 5, with local franchise Coffs Coast Chargers playing off against Central Coast Rush in the first semi-final. The winner of that match will face off against the winner of Central West Wranglers and ACT Aces in the final.
It is the first time these four teams have reached the finals stage in the four years of the competition.