Women umpires are not so frequently heard of or even seen on the field. It is usually the men who umpire official matches.
Breaking the stereotype and creating history, Australia's Claire Polosak became the first female match official in a men's Test match when she took up the fourth umpire's role in the third Test between India and Australia on Thursday, January 7.
The 32-year old is one of the youngest women umpires in cricket. She is the first one to achieve this in the 144 years of test cricket matches being played.
A resident of New South Wales, Australia, she had earlier officiated the final and became the first woman to stand in a men’s One Day International (ODI) match, during ICC's Division 2 league between Namibia and Oman played at Windhoek in 2019.
Claire, who started umpiring at the age of 15, showed great courage during the Test match when she reprimanded David Warner even before a ball was bowled.
“I did see early on in the telecast where she had the courage to tell Dave Warner before the match started to get off the pitch and do his shadow batting from behind the rope. That showed a lot of courage and a lot of fortitude for someone in their first experience as a fourth umpire and a Test match,” former international umpire Simon Taufel said in an interview for Channel 7.
“She has a tremendous amount of experience at the international level and today, we see her debut in the ICC men’s match officials team for the first time. When I spoke to Claire a couple of days ago about this about the opportunity, she was relishing it,” he added.
Claire is not, however, new to the spotlight. In January 2017, she was one of four female umpires named by the ICC to stand in matches in the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier. A year later, in 2018, she was named as one of the twelve on-field umpires for the 2018 ICC Women’s World Twenty20.
In the recently concluded Women’s World T20 in Australia, Claire was a part of the umpiring team who officiated the matches.
As per ICC rules for Test matches, the fourth umpire is appointed by the home cricket board from their nominees to the International Panel of ICC Umpires.
The duties of a fourth umpire typically include bringing the new ball, carrying drinks for the umpires to the field, checking the batteries in the light meter, observing the pitch during the lunch and tea intervals to make sure there is no interference, and bringing new bails.
The fourth umpire can also take over the third umpire's position if something happens to one of the on-field umpires and has to be replaced by the third umpire.
Last year in May, The International Cricket Council (ICC) had named Janani Narayanan and Vrinda Rathi of India in the International Panel of ICC Development Umpires. They joined 10 other women match officials from across the world, including Claire.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)