Home » Rising Aussie earns key role in World Cup opener | cricket.com.au

Rising Aussie earns key role in World Cup opener | cricket.com.au

For the past 15 years, Sam Nogajski reckons he’s had every decision he’s ever made scrutinised.

That scrutiny is only going to ramp up from today as the 45-year-old high school maths teacher heads to the Caribbean and United States for his first senior men’s ICC World Cup.

Nogajski, who has previously umpired in World Cup qualifiers, women’s World Cups and Under-19 men’s World Cups, has been selected as one of four Australian match officials for 2024 men’s T20 World Cup.

There will be no easing into the tournament either for the Australian umpire of the year for the past two summers, selected as the TV official for the tournament opener in Dallas between co-hosts USA and their North American rivals Canada on June 1.

But amid his excitement for his men’s World Cup debut, he understands the pressure of knowing that millions of people will be watching around the world and riding his every move will be nothing like he’s experienced before.

As a member of Cricket Australia’s International Panel of umpires who are nominated to the ICC for men’s international matches (mostly on home soil), Nogajski has stood in 23 men’s T20 internationals and 17 ODIs since his debut in 2017.

And despite standing in five of Australia’s six white-ball matches against West Indies last summer, he said his World Cup appointment still came as “a little bit of a shock”.

“I guess I’ve put forward a couple of consistent seasons the last two years and during that time you try and do the best you can with local ODIs and T20s and hopefully the ICC like what they see,” Nogajski told reporters ahead of his departure on Friday.

“As soon as the season ended, I was lucky enough to get a phone call from the ICC saying that I’d made the cut this year.

Nogajski (left) entering the SCG alongside Gerard Abood for last season’s BBL|13 Final // Getty

“To be going over to the Caribbean and the US is ridiculously exciting – I’m naturally nervous as I am always before games as it is, but that’s a productive nervousness.”

The Tasmanian initially fell into umpiring when he was about 18, before his love of it brought him back full-time five years later.

Cricket has been part of his life for a “very long time”, playing as an allrounder for Clarence in Tasmania’s Premier Cricket competition when he was younger.

“I love the sport, I always have,” Nogajski said. “Even when I’m not umpiring, I’m usually watching cricket to be fair.

“I injured myself when I was around 18 and had to have 12 months off sport.

“So I took up umpiring for a one-off year, very fortuitous, and absolutely loved it.

“I went back to playing … and then after about five years I realised that actually the hunger to go back and do the umpiring (was greater) and the reality of the fact I was a better umpire than I was player.

“I’ve probably been umpiring now for about two decades. I’ve been on the National Panel for the last 12 years, and within the National Panel, as you work your way up through the ranks, the top four guys in our National Panel qualify for the International Panel.

“For the last seven years, I’ve been on that International Panel, and just been trying to take any opportunities that might come up, (such as) World Cup qualifiers or local ODIs or local T20s.”

During his rise through the ranks of Australian umpiring, two main factors have earnt Nogajski the respect of players: “Decision making is their number one and also how we manage a match, how we speak to them, how we get along with them, how we relate to them.

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“Since 2009, I think I’ve had every decision that I’ve ever made assessed by either a match referee or an umpire high performance manager.

“But there are also umpire coaches and umpire selectors that would be observing how we perform both on and off the field.

“We are assessed over a long period of time and through the resources that we have with the umpire coaches hoping to identify areas that we can continuously improve on and just keep trying to work hard and get better.”

As he embarks on the biggest opportunity of his career to date, The Hutchins School educator of 16 years can draw on his experience during domestic cricket’s biggest moments having stood in the past six Marsh Sheffield Shield finals (as well as the TV umpire in 2016-17) and five of the past six KFC BBL finals.

His message for others who love the sport like he does, is to “stay involved”.

“It’s such a privileged position to give back through match officiating,” he said.

“Ever since I started doing it, I’ve absolutely loved it.

Nogajski signals wide during a 50-over World Cup qualifying match between Zimbabwe and West Indies last year // Getty

“It’s exciting, it’s challenging, every game is different, and it can be funny at times.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding for me. I’ve met so many people that I wouldn’t have normally that share a common interest in cricket and I’ve been allowed to travel the world.

“For those youngsters out there that love the game, it’s a wonderful way to stay involved and also to earn a little bit of money at the same time.”

Nogajski will make his standing umpiring men’s World Cup debut on June 7 when Canada face Ireland in New York, where he will be involved in another four matches before rounding out the group stage with two games in St Vincent.

The ICC will then select a group of umpires to officiate the Super Eight stage and semi-finals and final.

Nogajski will be joined at the World Cup by experienced Australian umpires Rod Tucker and Paul Reiffel and match referee David Boon.

2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup

Australia’s squad: Mitch Marsh (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Australia’s Group B fixtures

June 6: v Oman, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 10.30am AEST

June 9: v England, Kensington Oval, Barbados, 3am AEST

June 12: v Namibia, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua, 10.30am AEST

June 16: v Scotland, Daren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia, 10.30am AEST

Super Eights, finals to follow if Australia qualify

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