Cricket Australia (CA) has unveiled a groundbreaking moment for the sport by announcing the first-ever female on-field match officials for the Marsh Sheffield Shield: Claire Polosak and Eloise Sheridan. The duo, already noted figures in the umpiring community, are set to continue their history-making run in two separate fixtures, taking centre stage in Australia’s premier first-class cricket competition.
Claire Polosak is no stranger to carving out milestones. The New South Wales native first gained attention in 2017 when she became the first woman to officiate a men’s domestic fixture in Australia. She followed this up by being the first woman to stand in a men’s One Day International in 2019. Her accolades also include being the first female umpire in a men’s Test match as the fourth umpire during India’s tour of Australia in January 2021.
Her counterpart, Eloise Sheridan, has made her strides through the South Australian umpiring system. Her most notable recent achievement was her debut as an on-field umpire during the 2022 Ashes series. Sheridan, too, has had her moment on the international stage, having umpired in the ICC Women’s World Cup.
Polosak will be teaming up with Sam Nogajski at the WACA Ground when Western Australia take on South Australia on November 15. Meanwhile, Sheridan will take her place next to Gerard Abood at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) when Victoria faces off against Queensland starting November 16.
Both umpires have an extensive track record, including roles in women’s international fixtures, the Marsh One-Day Cup, and the KFC Big Bash League. They were also the on-field umpires for the Final of the Women’s Big Bash League in 2020. That particular match marked the first time two female umpires officiated together in an Australian domestic final.
Cricket Australia’s Umpiring Chairman of Selectors, Damien Mealey, applauded their ascent, calling it a “testament to the strong CA umpire pathway.” Mealey commended both Polosak and Sheridan for setting and maintaining high standards and pointed out that their selection is well-deserved.
Both Polosak and Sheridan have expressed excitement for their upcoming roles in the Marsh Sheffield Shield. In particular, Sheridan emphasised the significance of this moment, stating, “This is a significant moment for umpiring in Australia, and hopefully we can continue to break down barriers for those who come after us.”
Indeed, the selections of Polosak and Sheridan are not just milestones for them as individuals, but for the sport as a whole. They represent a significant leap towards inclusivity and diversity, challenging traditional norms and opening doors for future female umpires.
There’s a broader message here about cricket being a game where everyone can find their place, whether as a player or an official. As these two women step onto the field, they’re not just making calls; they’re making history. Their careers and achievements will serve as an inspiration, potentially encouraging other women to pursue roles in officiating, and lending more diversity to the faces that govern this beloved sport.
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Cricket Australia makes history with female on-field officials Claire Polosak & Eloise Sheridan in the Marsh Sheffield Shield, breaking barriers & promoting inclusivity. 🏏🚺🌟 #TheIndianSun #Umpire @CricketAus https://t.co/nuLdePLaRO
— The Indian Sun (@The_Indian_Sun) October 18, 2023