Trailblazer Gibbons 'proud of her journey'

From ‘being the only Female in the room’ when she first started to today mentoring the next wave of Female Umpires, it has been quite the journey for Ashlee Gibbons.

Her umpiring journey began back in 2012 in WA Premier Cricket, with her dad Michael playing a pivotal role during her early days. 

“I started back in 2012 when I was at University and looking for a bit of extra cash”, Gibbons said. 

“My dad was starting to go back and do pre-season training for umpiring, and he suggested that I come along and give it a shot, and I guess the rest is history. 

“He has been incredible for me, from umpiring together in my early days and really showing me the ropes to where we both are now, I couldn’t have done without him.” 

Their relationship now is closer than ever, with Michael and Ashlee still calling each other every Saturday after their umpiring appointments wrap up for the day.  

“Dad and I always call each other after every day’s play for a debrief of what happened during our game, “she explains.

“It’s nice to have him in my corner, especially because he has experienced a lot of the same situations that I have out in the middle.”

Experienced umpires Claire Polosak and Nathan Johnstone, who both have made their name across domestic and international cricket, have also been mentors for Gibbons during her umpiring journey.

In recent seasons, Ashlee has become one of the leading female umpires in the country, becoming a regular at Women’s National Cricket League and Women’s Big Bash League level.  

“She has been a pioneer for many years and continues to deservedly reap the rewards for her professionalism, enthusiasm and commitment, “WA Cricket High Performance Umpire Coach and Talent Specialist James Hewitt said.

“Working with Ashlee as her coach is an absolute pleasure, she is forever challenging herself and others around her to improve, myself included.”

Her on-field excellence and commitment to her craft were rewarded with an international debut last September, in a match between Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu in an ICC T20 Women’s World Cup Qualifier. 

An occasion she looks back on fondly. 

“Receiving my international umpiring debut was amazing, I remember the day I was told I was going to be officiating the match, it was a proud moment, “Gibbons recalls. 

I would have never guessed that umpiring would take me as far as Vanuatu, but I’m incredibly fortunate and grateful for that opportunity and it’s something I will never forget." 

While Gibbons is pleased with her own journey to the top level, watching and mentoring the next generation of Female Umpires also brings great satisfaction. 

“I remember the first umpiring session that I attended, and I was the only Female in the room,” Gibbons said. 

“Fast forward to today and there are so many young Females involved in the game, which is great to see and be a part of."

Gibbons is lucky enough to have a front row seat to the best Female players in the world, and she says the strides female cricket has made since she has been involved has been seismic. 

“The standard of women’s cricket today is outstanding and I appreciate having the best seat in the house to watch them play.”

Now, as she progresses her own umpiring career, she wants the generation next to have the same life-changing experiences she has enjoyed.  

“I would love to see as many females involved in cricket as we possibly can, it has been a wonderful journey for me, I have met so many great people and it has taken me to places that I never thought possible, so I encourage any young female wanting to be apart of something new to give it a go.” 

As for what’s next for Gibbons, she hopes to return to the field in 2024-25, after taking some time off last summer for the birth of her second son.  

‘’After having some time away from the game, you realise how much you miss it, so I am looking forward to getting out in the middle again next summer.” 

To find out more about umpiring in Western Australia, visit the WA Cricket Umpiring webpage: