Sheffield Shield 2023-24 – Female umpires Polosak and Sheridan to break new ground in Sheffield Shield

Claire Polosak and Eloise Sheridan will break new ground in Australian cricket with the pair set to become the first female umpires to officiate in the Sheffield Shield after being appointed to stand in two games in November.

Both umpires have stood in men’s Marsh Cup fixtures and men’s BBL matches in Australia but no female umpire has previously stood on-field for a Shield match. This follows England’s Sue Redfern becoming the first female umpire to stand in an LV= Insurance County Championship match between Glamorgan and Derbyshire in Cardiff in September.

Polosak will partner Sam Nogajski at the WACA Ground when Western Australia take on South Australia on November 15, while Sheridan will umpire Victoria’s match against Queensland at the MCG alongside Gerard Abood from November 16.

Polosak was the first woman to officiate in a men’s ODI in 2019 and has also stood in 12 men’s T20Is however all have been matches between associate nations. She was the first female umpire to officiate in a men’s Test match as the fourth umpire in the third Test of India’s tour of Australia in January 2021.

“I am very much looking forward to standing in the Sheffield Shield match at the WACA Ground,” Polosak said.

“Just like players, umpires are always working towards opportunities at higher honours, and this is undoubtedly another step forward on the pathway for umpires. Thank you to Cricket Australia, Cricket NSW and the NSW Cricket Umpires’ and Scorers’ Association for their support.

“I’d especially like to extend my appreciation to the countless umpiring colleagues that I have had the pleasure to stand with. I have learned from every single one of them and this appointment is standing on their shoulders.”

Sheridan made her women’s Test debut in the 2022 Ashes and umpired in the Women’s ODI World Cup in 2022 and the Women’s T20 World Cup in 2023.

“I am excited to be making my men’s first-class debut and honoured to be doing so in the same round as Claire,” Sheridan said.

“This is a significant moment for umpiring in Australia, and hopefully we can continue to break down barriers for those who come after us. It also provides a great opportunity for others to recognise the important role that umpires play in the game and it might inspire a few budding umpires to join the team.

“I am proud that my hard work has resulted in this opportunity and excited to see what the future holds in my umpiring career. I am really grateful to the support from Cricket Australia and SACA along the way, as well as my family and friends.”

Cricket Australia’s Umpiring Chairman of Selectors Damien Mealey was effusive in his praise of the pair.

“It is a testament to the strong CA umpire pathway that both Claire and Eloise have progressed through our elite domestic competitions before officiating in international women’s T20, ODI and Test matches,” Mealey said.

“More recently, both attended the Commonwealth Games and represented their states and Australia proudly with exemplary performances.

“As pioneers in women’s officiating, they have set and maintained a high standard and thoroughly deserve this accolade of becoming Australian cricket’s next first-class umpires.”

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo

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