I just want to get it right, says top mainland umpire
Sun Jianxin loves the way New Zealand umpire Billy Bowden gives a batsman out, raising a crooked index finger. But China's top umpire has no plans to emulate the quirky Bowden and instead is just keen on getting it right.
'I'm a bit nervous. We don't get much of an opportunity to stand in games featuring top international cricketers and I will be more concerned about giving the right decision than following in the footsteps of Billy Bowden,' Sun said.
Beijing-born Sun, 44, was speaking before standing in his first top-class fixture - the Woodworm All Stars against the Rest of the World team in Hong Kong's first international Twenty20 game on Friday.
Standing with local umpire Roger Nissim, Sun wasn't overawed by the occasion and didn't let nerves get to him as he was called upon to give a decision in just the second delivery of the match, when England's Peter Trego edged Indian left-arm seamer R.P. Singh. It was a feathered edge, but Sun had seen enough to raise his finger - up straight.
An Asian Cricket Council Level II umpire - he has one more grade to reach before reaching the pinnacle - Sun says the lack of opportunities on the mainland is holding back progress of the game for both players as well as umpires.
'We need more matches to be played in China. There are not many chances to stand in a game and it is only through experience that we can learn,' said Sun, echoing the feeling of mainland players and coaches.
A PE teacher, Sun became hooked on the game after the Asian Cricket Council began an intensive development course, reaching out to coach coaches and match officials in the run-up to the Asian Games in Guangzhou last November, where cricket (Twenty20) made its debut.
'I umpired at three matches at the Asian Games, two men's and one women's game. It was a great experience and I hope we get more chances like that to stand in international games,' Sun said.
With help from the Hong Kong Cricket Association - its general manager Danny Lai translated the laws of the game into Putonghua - Sun and other umpires from the mainland have made big strides in the past few years.
'We are very thankful to Hong Kong for giving us all the help and for inviting me for the first time this year. This experience will help me,' said Sun, who earlier this year took his level II umpiring exams in Hong Kong, and passed with flying colours.
Sun will get his chance to be in action today, standing in the first game of the day, an exhibition match between the China women's team and a Hong Kong women's side, and also in the match between the China men's national team and a Hong Kong development side.
Sun does not want to be the next Billy Bowden. He only wants to stand out.