With countless hours of hard work over the past eleven years of his umpiring career behind him, Babalo ‘Babs’ Gcuma was rewarded handsomely for his persistence a few weeks ago when he became the first black umpire from KwaZulu –Natal to be promoted to Cricket South Africa’s National First-Class Panel of Umpires.
Gcuma’s promotion is one which has brought him immense satisfaction and an opportunity he is looking forward to making the most of.
“It has been a long wait and lot of hard work along the way but it really is exciting for me to see the hard work I have already put in is starting to bear fruit!” explained Gcuma.
“A lot more hard work starts now because it’s obviously a higher level than what I have been involved with for the past seven years but I’m very excited!” he added.
Gcuma’s umpiring career started in 2002 when he wrote his first umpires exam in the off-season before hanging up his boots midway through the 2002/3 season and turning to umpiring to continue his involvement in the game.
“I realized I wasn’t going to play for the Dolphins so umpiring meant I could still be involved with the game and so I stopped playing for African Warriors and decided to explore umpiring a bit more.
“Since then it has been a lot of hard work with national tournaments and then, for the past seven years, with provincial cricket after I was selected for the Emerging Panel.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Gcuma though, with the journey having tested his staying power and will to succeed regularly.
“There were some pretty lonely periods in those seven years on the Emerging Panel but I knew that with a lot more hard work things would start happening for me and so to be selected for the National Panel is very rewarding.
The challenge of a higher standard of cricket is one Gcuma is looking forward to while the prospect of officiating on television is not a daunting one for the Durbanite.
“There are a lot more quality players at franchise level and the standard of cricket there compared to the provincial level is like chalk and cheese.
“There are obviously South African players in the franchise mix, which will be a big challenge, but I’m really looking forward to this!
“I’ve already had a bit of TV time with the Global Softech Sixes a couple of weeks ago at Centurion – which was a really good experience – and with me being on the National Panel now, I’ll be doing a lot more franchise matches so hopefully I’ll get a bit more TV time there too,” chuckled Gcuma.