Pius Nkosi capped off another memorable year for him in his rapidly developing umpiring career by claiming the 2015/16 Umpire of the Season Award at the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Union Awards Evening recently, adding to his list of achievements as he aims to reach umpiring’s upper echelons.
The Westville Boys’ High School teacher’s name was etched into the trophy for the second year running after his efforts on the local club and school cricket scenes as well as at various national weeks.
“I’m honoured to have won the award for the second year in a row,” says Nkosi.
“I wasn’t thinking about the award at all during the season, instead I was focused on giving my best every time I was on the field, but it is nice to have been recognized for my efforts,” he adds.
Nkosi, who started his umpiring as part of his extra-curricular responsibilities as a school teacher, gave up his enjoyment of playing the game in order pursue a potential career as the ‘man in the middle’.
“I played cricket but didn’t have much to offer as a player and so I thought ‘why not get involved in umpiring and give back to the game that gave me so much?’.
“I had been umpiring every Saturday at school and, after joining the KZN Cricket Umpires Association, I became involved in club cricket.
“I was lucky enough to go to the U13 National Week two years in a row, then the U15 Week and then onto Coke Week.”
Having done his time at the various age group inter-provincial weeks around the country in recent years, Nkosi’s big break came at the back end of the recent 2015/16 season when he stood at the Coca-Cola Schools T20 National Finals in Potchefstroom in March before making his debut at the recent Momentum National Club Championships in Pretoria at the end of April.
“Being part of Club Champs this year is the highlight of my career!
“To be there with all the top clubs and umpires in the country was incredible and to be exposed to that level of cricket and constantly be put under that sort of pressure was great.”
While many may not appreciate the demands – both physical and mental – of the job, Nkosi is leaving nothing to chance and spends many hours a week honing the various elements of the game while also turning to some prominent figures in South African umpiring circles for guidance and mentorship.
“Aside from preparing for the physical demands of standing in the field for a full day, often a few days at a time, I also see a dietician and a psychologist to help me prepare as best I can for each and every game that I stand in.
“Sagren Naidoo and Dennis Smith have been two people from KZN who have played a big role in my career and then Shaun George has been an incredible mentor for me as I work towards trying to achieve my goal of getting onto the National Panel.
“One particular piece of advice Shaun passed on to me was ‘Always be prepared because when an opportunity comes your way, you need to grab it with both hands!’ and that is something I always try to follow as I look to go all the way to the top!” explains a passionate Nkosi.
The evening also recognized Nkosi’s fellow teacher and umpiring colleague, Barry Oosthuyzen who received the Most Improved Umpire of the Season Award, while National Panel member Babalo ‘Babs’ Gcuma continues to fly the province’s flag high on the domestic circuit after becoming the first ever black umpire from KZN to make it onto Cricket South Africa’s National First-Class Panel of Umpires in August 2014.