MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Clarence River umpire Bruce Baxter will step on to the SCG for the Plan B Regional Big Bash final next month.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE: Clarence River umpire Bruce Baxter will step on to the SCG for the Plan B Regional Big Bash final next month. Matthew Elkerton

Valley umpire chosen for top country cricket decider

CRICKET: When Bruce Baxter stepped onto the surface of the SCG earlier this year for the first time, he felt tingles run up the nape of his neck.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Clarence River Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association vice- president - or so he thought.

Baxter will once again get a chance to umpire at Sydney's spiritual home of cricket, but this time he will be stepping up another notch as he is assigned to officiate the Plan B Regional Big Bash grand final.

The culminating fixture of one of country cricket's leading competitions, the final will feature the best players the regional centres have to offer.

Which is the reason NSW Cricket Umpires Scorers Association boss - and former Clarence Valley umpire - Darren Goodger said the best black and whites needed to stand too.

"When you are picking umpires for these big occasion games, you want to pick umpires who you are confident will get the job done for you,” Goodger said.

"We are very confident that Bruce is one of those types of umpires.

"He has been picked for the job because he is in the top handful of umpires in country cricket and he is really respected by the players and his colleagues for his composure and calmness under pressure.”

Last season Baxter officiated in the semi-final of the tournament and was involved in a hair-raising run-out decision which the umpire got "spot on”.

But moving into the final will be a much bigger occasion and one that Baxter thinks about fondly.

"Getting the gig a second year in a row is a bit lucky,” Baxter said.

"I know they like to share these appointments around a bit so I definitely wasn't expecting the call.

"But it is a real honour to grace the SCG again and to step up in such a high-profile match.”

The final Sixers Conference representatives for the Plan B Regional Bash finals are yet to be decided, with a round of fixtures taking place in Coffs Harbour on December 2-3.

Clarence River Cricket Association will be well represented with Brandon Honeybrook, Ben McMahon and Westlawn all-rounder Jacob Ellis all included in the Coffs Coast Chargers first XI.

Baxter will also umpire the Coffs Harbour matches along with Steve Millar and Lower Clarence's Rob Pye.