Currently in her 11th year as a schoolteacher, Sheridan becomes the first female South Australian to be appointed to a Cricket Australia umpiring panel, a remarkable achievement born of hard work, determination and a genuine love for the game of cricket.
Sheridan took up umpiring in 2015 to stay involved after bringing her Premier Cricket career as a wicketkeeper and opening bat to an end. Since then, she has built a list of achievements longer than a full day in the field at the height of summer; including being the first female to umpire Men’s First Grade, the first female to umpire a Premier Cricket Final and one half of the the first female duo to umpire a professional match in Australia, a WBBL clash at Adelaide Oval between the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Stars.
That game, played on December 23, 2018, began with Sheridan and NSW umpire Claire Polosak walking to the middle to commence proceedings, a ground-breaking moment that cricket had never seen in its storied and lengthy history. Sheridan recalls the occasion with pride, pointing to the chance to umpire with Polosak as an exciting opportunity.
“It was great because at the time, Claire was kind of way ahead of everyone, so she set an aspirational goal for me. I wanted to achieve some of the things that she had. It was the first time I had umpired with her, I knew her just a little bit before that, and since then we have umpired together quite a lot. She is wonderful to learn from.”
The firsts didn’t end there for Sheridan, as she and fellow South Australian umpire Mary Waldron joined together in 2019 to umpire a Premier Cricket fixture between Tea Tree Gully and Northern Districts, becoming the first female umpiring team in a first-grade contest. The moment was made even more special due to a strong friendship between Sheridan and Waldron, a remarkable person in her own right who has also played international football and cricket for her home nation of Ireland.
“Mary is one of my best mates. Being able to get out there with her was absolutely fantastic. Travis Head was playing in that game too, which made it extra cool. It all went really smoothly; we had a great day for it, and everyone was super respectful, which makes it a lot easier. They don’t treat us any differently.”
Despite being just Sheridan’s fifth season as an umpire, 2019 brought another incredible experience when she was asked to head to Scotland as part of an all-female umpiring team for the Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifying Tournament.
“That was awesome. That is where I made my international debut. I was lucky enough to debut with Claire, which wasn’t supposed to happen. A game got washed out and the next game I was rostered with Claire, so I made my international debut with her.”
“It was an all-female umpiring panel in Scotland, with a couple of Australians as well as Kim Cotton from New Zealand, Sue Redfern from England, Lauren Agenbag from South Africa and Jacqui Williams from the West Indies. It was such a great opportunity, as well as a steep learning curve.”
Not even a global pandemic could slow Sheridan down, as she entered both the WBBL hub in NSW and BBL hub in hometown Adelaide during the summer just passed. With many umpires and players unable to ply their trade for long stretches during the 2020/21 season, Sheridan is thankful for the chance to stay on the field, including a brief promotion to third umpiring duties at Adelaide Oval due to Covid protocols.
“It didn’t see a reduction to my amount of cricket because I was lucky enough to go into the WBBL hub and then the BBL hub. I really enjoyed the WBBL hub; I think it was well managed and thought out very thoroughly. We were wanting for nothing during that time.
“We had a few changes during the BBL due to Covid. Initially there were three national panel guys from Tassie who were going to stay in the Adelaide hub, and then one of them was going to go to Perth for a match and come back, but the Western Australian Government didn’t allow that and so he ended up staying over there. Someone from Brisbane was then coming down, but Brisbane had cases and so there was a quarantine procedure which meant I got to jump in for a couple of games.
“It was a great opportunity for sure. I went in thinking I would be fourth umpire the whole time, and I managed to get a couple of games in the [third umpire] box.”
Through it all, Sheridan remains a passionate supporter of cricket, albeit with a slightly different viewpoint on the game these days.
“I’ve just been watching the Women’s Test [India vs England] which has been great to see. I view cricket slightly differently now; I often look at the umpires and see what they are doing. Of course, I know quite a few of them now too, so it’s always nice to see how they are going.
“I still enjoy the game; I just have a different understanding of it now.”
24 June 2021