A cricket umpire from Haslemere who is believed to be the oldest umpire in the UK is still going strong in his 90th year.

Eric Simpson, who umpires matches in the I’Anson Cricket League, celebrated his 89th birthday on Monday, June 3.

Simpson was in the thick of the action on Saturday, June 1, when he umpired the I’Anson League Division 1 match between Tilford and Grayshott. And the I’Anson umpire says he still enjoys making all the big calls.

“I love the camaraderie of umpiring,” said Simpson. “I get to umpire at some beautiful grounds – I’m very lucky. The clubs are all very friendly and will buy me a drink after the game. As an umpire you are a very important part of the game.”

Simpson turned to umpiring after a long and successful playing career in the amateur game, which included turning out for Haslemere, Ebernoe, Petworth and Liphook cricket clubs.

Among the highlights of Simpson’s playing career were bowling Australian opening batter Rick McCosker for a duck and taking all ten wickets in an innings.

“Rick McCosker was playing for a team of former players and I bowled him with the first ball of the game when he inside edged the ball onto his stumps,” said Simpson.

“I was a right-arm seam bowler. I usually opened the bowling. I had a reasonable amount of pace, and I was very accurate. My style of bowling was quite similar to Brian Statham.

“A lot of the youngsters now try to bowl too fast and bowl too many wides. Accuracy is important.

“I was also a pretty handy batter and was comfortable batting anywhere from one to six. I was a genuine all-rounder. I loved playing but I had to stop because of injury when I was 60 – so I took up umpiring.”

Simpson umpired friendly matches for many years before making the move into umpiring league cricket.

“I started umpiring league cricket in 2016,” said Simpson. “I was told the league were looking for umpires and was asked if I would be interested in doing it – and it’s gone on from there.

“I umpire in the I’Anson League on Saturdays and also during the week in the I’Anson midweek competitions. I also umpire in the Gurkha Cricket League on Sundays.

“When I got my Association of Cricket Officials (ACO) qualifications I was told I was the oldest umpire in the ACO.

“I want to still be umpiring when I’m 90 – and past that if my health allows it.”